Complete Breath

Definition - What does Complete Breath mean?

The complete breath is deep abdominal breathing employed in yoga that involves filling the lungs completely using the entire respiratory system. It is a form of diaphragmatic breathing and is the most basic of yogic breathing exercises.

The complete breath is best practiced in a comfortable seated position with an erect spine. Begin by relaxing the abdomen. Place one hand on the belly and the other on the chest. Inhale deeply, allowing the shoulders to relax down the back and the belly to push out against the hand. This is the diaphragm pulling down on the lungs as they fill completely with air. The chest expands passively as the breath fills it. The hand on the chest will rise slightly as the chest expands; however, the shoulders stay put. On the exhale, mindfully contract the belly and slowly empty all the air out from the lungs.

Yogapedia explains Complete Breath

In Sanskrit, the complete breath is called dirga swasam pranayama. Practicing the complete breath in yoga is believed to balance the body's life force energy known as prana. In turn, balancing prana promotes physical, spiritual and mental health.

The complete breath is part of yogic breathing exercises called pranayama. Practicing pranayama is part of the Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras.

Practicing the complete breath has numerous benefits:

  • Engages the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS)
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Improves focus and concentration
  • Relaxes body and mind
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Relieves insomnia
  • Builds stamina
  • Soothes the respiratory system

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