Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Basic Qi Gong Belly Breathing

In recent classes it has really been apparent how bad breathing habits are really deeply ingrained in us to the extent that unless we really pay attention to it, we don't notice. To this end I have been doing a 'basic Qi Gong belly breathing' with the class at the beginning and end of every session. Here it is, I recommend you use it regularly until it really is an instinctive habit for you and your daily Qi Gong practice:

Stand or sit comfortably with a naturally straight back (for more details on posture see article on "Basic Qi Gong standing posture" here).

Place your hands over your belly, one on top of the other. If you are breathing properly, you will be directing the air down to the bottom of the lungs as you begin each exhalation, such that your belly will gently rise as you breathe in, and you will be able to feel this movement with your hands. Then, as you exhale you will be able to feel the belly gently moving back down to its resting position. Consciously now practice breathing from the belly, so that you can feel the rise and fall of your abdomen as you breathe in and breathe out.

After you have done this for a short while, do the following; As you reach the bottom of your exhalation, gently pull in the belly so that you are drawing in your belly button toward the spine. This drawing in of the spine will cause you to expel any remaining air from the bottom of your lungs, so that as you inhale again you will be breathing totally fresh air into your lungs, and no stagnant air will be left to remain in the lower part of the lungs. Now gently relax the belly and begin your next inhalation, slowly and naturally. Again, use your hands to really be 100% aware of the movement of the belly and abdomen as you are breathing.

In the final section of the exercise, practice combining this basic breathing pattern described above with the drawing up of the pelvic floor. As you breathe in, gently tense the muscles in your perineum. This will cause your pelvic floor to rise and become firm, and you will feel the downward pressure of the abdominal organs pressing upon it as you continue to breathe in. When you reach the top of your inhalation, gently lower the pelvic floor to its starting position by relaxing the muscles in the perineum. Repeat this pattern with each inhalation and exhalation.

This final part of the exercise can take a little bit of getting used to, but it is worth developing as a skill because it enhances the power of our breath to circulate Qi through our body quite substantially. Practising this exercise for five minutes in a day is a Qi Gong exercise that in itself will have noticeable effects on your overall health and well being!