Three-part breathing is one of the foundations of yoga. It’s often referred to as yogic breathing. I sometimes encourage people to try to maintain this breath work throughout their practice. Ideally, we should be practicing yogic breathing automatically during our practice, and even sometimes off the mat. Three-part breathing is the one pranayama routine that can be practiced by all.
I like to place one hand on my heart, and one on my low belly. When I inhale, I imagine, and feel, my low belly fill with air. Then the upper belly, and the lungs. Upon exhaling, I imagine all the air being squeezed out of the lungs, then upper belly, and finally pushing out all the remaining stale breath from the low belly.
It is said that your breath should sound like waves during three-part breathing. I find this very soothing to listen to, on both the inhale and exhale.
Swami Satchidananda, integralyoga.org explained the multiple benefits of yogic breathing. He said it was a great way to increase your prana. (For more prana, or life force, boosts, I recommend yoga outdoors.)
“…if you breathe enough and charge your body with more oxygen, your entire body becomes lively. You don’t feel a bit of sluggishness anywhere,” Satchidananda explained to female prisoners in New Jersey. “In the yogic way of breathing…In the lab, it has been tested and shown that in your normal breathing, you take in only about 500 cubic centimeters of air and you breathe out the same amount of carbon dioxide. But in the real yogic breathing, you take in 3,700 cubic centimeters of air,” he noted.