Definition - What does Dirga mean?
Dirga is the Sanskrit name of a pranayama practice that is often referred to in English as the “three-part breath.” Dirga is considered one of the easier breathing exercises to master, and is valued for its ability to increase awareness of the breath, expand the lung capacity and boost oxygen intake. It has no contraindications and as such it may be beneficial for students of all levels.
Dirga means “complete” and can also mean “slow” or “deep” or “long,” all of which are appropriate descriptors of this method of breathing.
Yogapedia explains Dirga
In dirga, the process is as follows, taking the breath into the torso in three stages:
Breathe into the belly, expanding it out
Breathe into the ribcage
Breathe into the upper chest and shoulders
Exhale out in the same pattern, starting with the upper chest, then the ribcage, then the belly
Repeat the process, keeping your breath slow and calm.
Some may find it helpful to rest their hands on their belly, then ribcage, then upper chest as they breathe to feel the breath move in each area.
As with all pranayama practice, dirga is traditionally considered to be more powerful than asana practice. It is also accessible by the vast majority of students, even those with injuries or who are unwell. It allows the practitioner to explore the more subtle aspects of yoga, and can also help boost stamina and focus.