Breath control is one of the main practices in yoga. When you breathe up and down the spine (into each chakra) you are meant to breathe deeply. The classical texts on yoga are clear that the lungs should be filled and emptied.
But there are times when my body doesn’t want to breathe deeply. It almost hurts to breathe deeply. So I don’t. I allow my breath to be shallow.
If deep breath takes you into deep meditation, does shallow breathing take you into shallow meditation? I don’t know.
Shallow breathing is that it makes me pay keen attention to my body. The slightest over-expansion on my lungs feels uncomfortable. To stay comfortable – and comfort is essential for good meditation – I have to stay tuned into my body.
The restricted movement of my lungs diffuses my attention into my flesh. Not just any attention, but tender attention – making sure that each breath caresses my lungs and doesn’t push against them.
Deep breathing, deep meditation. Shallow breathing, tender meditation.