This is a great active meditation practice to learn and add to your meditation toolbox. Exercising the lungs is important for maintaining good health. If you do not actively exercise the lungs they become stiff this lack of activity can lead to disease.
Then average adult uses about 10% of their lung capacity in a single breath. This is called tidal volume, which is about .5 liters of air. But the lungs have the capacity to hold about 4-6 liters of air, which is close to 10 times the tidal volume or average breath. This will vary from person to person depending on their health, level of physical activity, gender, size, age, smoking habits and even will vary according to the elevation they live in.
If you work at a desk for example and spend 8 hours a day hunched over a computer with poor posture and no regard to your breath you are suffering whether you see it or not. If this is you this exercise will be life changing for you. By having poor posture in a stationary position such as this you will only be using the front side of your lungs and a small percentage at that. This can lead to respiratory disease, allergies, asthma and even lung cancer.
To begin this practice start by establishing a deep relaxed breath expanding the lungs and stretching the lung tissue. Inhale and bring in as much air as possible without making yourself tight. Then exhale and let yourself melt releasing every ounce of tension in your body. This exercise can be done either standing or sitting in an up-right position. Make sure to maintain a good posture and don’t let yourself collapse as you move into deeper relaxation.
Now after you have found your rhythm and your breathing is smooth start to roll your shoulders back. First, focus on breathing into the backsides of the lungs by inhaling as your shoulders are circling up and back. Having the shoulders in the rear position will release tension across the back of the lungs giving them more room to expand and stretch. Do this for at least 6-12 slow deep breaths.
Next change direction, focusing on breathing into the front sides of the lungs. This time roll the shoulders forward and down as you inhale. Do this 6-12 times with a slow relaxed breath.
To focus on the sides of the lungs lean slightly over to your left side making the left side of the body soft and lightly stretching the right side of the body. Now breathe deeply and focus on expanding the left lung. Do again for about 6-12 deep relaxed breaths then repeat on your right side.
Try it and let us know how you are doing with it. Good luck with your practice.