Guided Chair Yoga with Dirga Breath

By Angie Parris-Raney, LMT
[Meditate & Move ]

Dirga pranayama in Sanskrit is a deep-breathing technique that engages the full capacity of the lungs and increases the supply of oxygen to the body, thus reducing stress and anxiety, while bringing more health, vitality, and well-being to the entire body-mind physiology. This brings about a state of profound relaxation and serenity, preparing the mind to meditate. This can also be used at any time to calm the mind during times of stress and anxiety.



1. Begin by sitting with your spine erect and your shoulders relaxed. Place your left hand on your lower abdomen, a few inches below your belly button, and your right hand on the outer right edge of your rib cage. Take a deep breath in and out through your nose. Do this a few times. Now, with the next in breath, focus on the natural rise of your belly, followed by the expansion of your rib cage. Feel the belly expand, then the ribs. As you exhale, feel the contraction in your ribs and then your belly, feeling the navel pull inward. Do this a couple more times.

2. Bring your left hand up to rest on the center of your chest, just below your collarbone. As you inhale, fill your belly, then your rib cage, and now breathe all the way into your upper chest, feeling it rise slightly. Reverse the flow as you exhale completely, beginning with the chest softening, ribs contracting, navel pulling inward. Let your breath flow smoothly without pausing. Let your breathing be normal and rest a minute.

3. Begin with a few neck rolls. Moving forward, ear to shoulder, back, and to the other side. Slowly move around a few times. Finish by bringing your neck back to the center. Take a deep breath and gently move in the other direction a few times.

4. Next, we’ll flow through some Sufi circles. Sitting up tall, attention at the base of your spine, lean forward and swirl in one direction. Feel your chest lifting and your back rounding as you come back. Inhaling as you move forward and exhaling as you move back. Come back to center. Repeat in the other direction.

5. Next, let’s do cat/cow. Bring your hands forward to hold the front of your knees and round your back. Then, slide your hands to the back of your chair and lift your chest. Inhale. Exhale, chin to chest, round forward. Inhale, lift and lengthen. Exhale, curl, and use your abdominal muscles. Release into the center.

6. Finally, sit comfortably in your chair, with your hands in your lap. Take a few moments to connect to your breath. Feel the natural rise of the breath and the beating of your heart. For the next couple of minutes, let’s gently introduce the mantra “So Hum.” In Sanskrit, this mantra means “I am,” which affirms our existence as pure awareness. Be grateful for this gift. Gently and quietly repeat to yourself “So Hum.” “So” on the inhale and “Hum” on the exhale. As you notice any disturbances in your environment or as your mind wanders, gently come back to the mantra. After several minutes, and when you’re ready, gently open your eyes.