Now that you can sit comfortably and observe the breath in your body, it’s time to invite it to change. In yoga, this is called the three-part breath.
First, bring your attention to your chest. Feel the chest rise on your inhale, and fall on your exhale. You can envision a balloon in the chest that’s filling up with air as you breathe in, and that’s deflating slightly as you breathe out.
Practice focusing on the breath in you r chest. If it’s helpful, you can even place a hand there, just to remind you. Feel the chest pressing up into the hand, and moving away from the hand slightly. Try not to force.
Next, see if you can expand the idea of the balloon from the breath into the solar plexus, or rib cage area. So as you inhale the breath fills the chest, and it flows down to the rib cage. As you exhale, the breath moves up, from the rib cage to the chest—that balloon deflating. Again, if it’s helpful to place the hands on the chest and the rib cage you can do so, feeling the breath move in, and move out.
Just practicing these two parts together. That balloon inflating as the breath comes in, and deflating slightly as the breath goes out. Just visualize the balloon, and be careful not to force the breath.
Finally, inflate that balloon from the chest, down into the rib cage, and then into the belly, allowing the belly to really inflate with that breath. As you exhale, draw the navel toward the spine, squeezing the breath out up to the rib cage and up to the rib cage, adding the third of the three parts to the three part breath. Just imagine that balloon rising and falling, inflating and deflating.
If you feel comfortable you can start to imagine the balloon not just at the front of the body, but also at the sides of the waist, the ribs and the chest, and into the back body as well -- all 360 degrees.
Practice this for just a few moments every day, and you’ll find that you can breathe more deeply and fully any time you like.