THE LEVELS OF BREATHING
In pranyama there are three levels of breathing. The high breath, the middle breath and the low breath. The high breath takes place in the top of the lungs, is very shallow and often the shoulders rise and fall with each breath. People under stress or with breathing problems often breathe in this area of the lungs. The middle breath happens in the middle of the lungs and is not as shallow as the high breath. However, it is still comparatively shallow. With the middle breath, the chest expands sideways and there may be some shoulder involvement. The low breath is deep and the abdomen expands with each breath. It is possible to have any one level of breathing in the absence of the other two.
THE COMPLETE BREATH
A complete breath incorporates all three levels of breathing, filling the lungs to capacity and exhaling fully. Sit upright in a comfortable position. Your shoulders should be relaxed and neutral and your chest open. Inhale slowly, from the abdomen, until your lungs are filled to capacity. Pause for three seconds, then exhale slowly. Do not force the exhale, let the air drift out naturally, but do contract the abs at the end to expel all the air. Repeat three to five times, pausing for three seconds between each inhale and exhale.