After the last series of posts about mindfulness, or meditation, it is now time to focus on breathing correctly. In order to achieve the best results from daily meditation, you must know the proper way to breath. We are born so perfect but it does not take very long for us to screw things up. Breathing is probably one of the first natural functions that gets corrupted but I bet that very few people know they are breathing wrong. Below is an introduction to the two types of natural breathing. I bet you did not know that we naturally breathe in two different ways. After this post, I will give you exercises to practice both kinds which will help you to relearn proper breathing.
General Rules About Breathing
All breathing should be done thru the nose. We have more control over the breath thru our nose than out mouth. The nose acts as a filter and it moisturizes the air as it comes in. Originate your breathing from your Real Dantien, located between your lower dantein and ming-men point. Use your belly to help you breathe, not your chest. This kind of breathing is called “Abdominal Breathing”. When we breathe in air, we are absorbing energy from the air. If we use our belly to breathe, the diaphragm sinks down, creating more room to hold the air in, thus we can absorb more energy. It also charges up our blood with plenty of oxygen. Improve our vitality by supporting our body with oxygen-rich blood. Another good side effect of Abdominal Breathing is its calming effect. It helps us relax. Often, many Energy-Work, such as Tai Chi, Yoga, Taoist Inner Alchemy, and other meditation arts, start out their practice with a series of Abdominal Breathing to calm down the mind of the practitioners. When practice Abdominal Breathing regularly, the breathing will be slow and deep; which is the ultimate goal in breathing. When our breathing is deep, we can take in more air. When our breathing is slow, we have more time to fully digest the energy within the air. To maximize our breathing capacity, relax your chest by sinking the sternum and dropping the shoulder. Then round your chest from the scapulas by pushing your arms slightly forward and to the sides, creating a gap in the armpits. The reason to round the chest is to take the pressure off the sides of your rib cage, which in turn take the pressure off your chest. Relax and do not force your breath!
-There is two basic breathing patterns we use. First one is called “Normal Breathing”, since it is the way we breathe normally. The stomach expands as we breathe in, contracts as we breathe out. Sometimes it is referred to as “Buddhist Breathing” or “Post-Birth Breathing”. It is the breathing pattern we use after our birth. When we are in a relaxed state, we use Normal Breathing, such as the time before we go to sleep or as you are sitting down and reading this paper. As we breathe in, we are conceiving, so it is yin in nature. As we breathe out, we are expanding, so it is yang in nature. When you have the chance, observe other animals as they breathe or even newborn baby. They breathe with their belly naturally.
-During inhalations of Normal Breathing, expand the belly on all four sides (forward, backward, and sideways). Sink both the thoracic diaphragm and the pelvic diaphragm. Inhale and gather the chi in the dantien.
-When exhaling, the belly contracts from all four sides. Both the chest diaphragm and the pelvic contract, lift upward pushing the air out. Breathe out thru the nose. Exhale and condense the chi in the dantein.
-The other breathing method is called “Reverse Breathing”. Also known as the “Taoist Breathing” or “Pre-Birth Breathing”. The stomach contracts as we breathe in, and expands as we breathe out. It is the reverse of the Normal Breathing. It is the breathing method we use before birth, when we are still in the fetus. We use this method when we need some extra energy. When you are excited, exhausted, or exercising, you will find yourself breathing in Reverse. Be very cautious when practicing Reverse Breathing. Do not practice more than 3 minutes at a time, and don’t force it or you may injure yourself. Reverse Breathing is more difficult to practice than Normal Breathing. Do what is natural to you, and do it at your own pace.
-When exhaling, the thoracic diaphragm moves upward, whiles the pelvic diaphragm moves downward. At the same time, the stomach expands on all 4 sides, creating a vacuum effect in the center (precisely the Real Dantein). The chi in the air we breathe in is considered to be yin. The chi in our Real Dantein is considered to be yang, we called this “Original Chi”. So when we exhale using the Reverse Breathing method, we are separating the yin and yang chi in our belly.
–When inhaling, the belly contracts from all 4 sides. While the thoracic diaphragm moves downward, the pelvic diaphragm is moving upward, forcing the yin and yang chi to mix together at the Real Dantein.
In order to combine or connect the Yin and Yang energies into one continuous flow, you Must be sure that the tip of your tongue is resting against your palate right behind your top front teeth. This is the Bridge that acts like an electrical switch and completes the “circuit”. This must be done in all meditation and all internal martial arts. This actually happens naturally if you have not noticed.
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- Tai Chi Dao Yin Chi Kung Dan Tian Breathing Techniques (tai-chi-fitness-for-health.com)
- Taoist Internal Alchemy (stuartherbert.com)