Thursday, November 6, 2008

Basic facets of Qi Gong breathing for beginners

Outlined below are the basic aspects of Qi Gong breathing as taught in Toby’s classes. To begin with you will have to practice each aspect separately, in order to get a feel for it, but after a while you will find that you can combine all the features into a smooth cycle of breathing without having to exert effort.

- breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth*. The tip of the tongue should be placed on the palette behind the top front teeth.
*Specifically when practicing formal Qi Gong exercises - In daily life breathing in and out through the nose is generally recommended.

- breathe into the belly. This means, as you breathe in, you are directing air down into the bottom of the lungs, so that you can feel your diaphragm expanding downward, and exerting a gentle pressure on the abdominal organs.

- breathe in to about 70% of your lung capacity; do not breathe in more deeply than is comfortable and relaxing.

- when inhaling, as well as directing the air down into the bottom of the lungs, try also to utilize the sides, the front and the back of your lower-mid lungs. This means that as you inhale you can feel the front, back and sides of your lower and mid ribcage gently expanding. Then as you exhale you will feel your ribcage contracting accordingly.

- as you inhale, gently (no more than 40% strength) contract the muscles in the perineum, so that you can feel your pelvic floor rising and becoming firm. As you do this you will feel a gentle squeeze or pressure being exerted upon the abdominal organs as the diaphragm pushes down on them from above, and the pelvic floor rises from below.

- the quality of the breathing should be smooth, gentle and continuous, without a gap or break between the inhalation and the exhalation. This is called circular, or wave breathing. In the same way that as soon as a wave has broken upon the shore it begins to ebb and be absorbed back into the ocean, as soon as we have reached the peak of our inhalation, we should begin our exhalation. Likewise, at the end of the exhalation, we should begin the inhalation immediately and smoothly with no break between.

Below is a link to a basic Qi Gong breathing exercise (lasting twelve minutes approx)that we often do at the beginning of a Qi Gong class. It includes many of the breathing pointers above, and listening to it is a convenient way of getting used to the fundamentals of Qi Gong breathing. It also includes some free form breathing at the beginning.

Listen to basic Qi Gong breathing exercise

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