(Qigong Breathing – 1)
In Qigong breathing is very important and broad topic. So let’s start at the beginning.
What is breathing?
Breathing is a process in which we inhale and exhale the air from the lungs. When we inhale lungs expand and pull into the body air which contains for us vitally important oxygen. When we exhale our lungs contract and we expel from our body waste product, carbon dioxide. The process of lung expansion and contraction is enabled by certain muscles and it happens automatically. We don’t have to breathe consciously. And this is a good thing. 😉 Imagine that you forget to breath while you are sleeping?! Breathing is of course essential for our existence. You can forget to eat for a day or two or even more… but you really can’t survive without breathing.
A majority of people consider breathing as something self-evident and they become aware of it only if it creates problems. They never ask themselves how do they breathe or how does their breathing influence their body and mind.
Breathing during our human life
The nature has provided a man with an effective way of breathing which supports his health and vitality. The newborn breathes by using thoracic diaphragm and moving the lower part of abdomen. His breathing is calm and deep and the intake of oxygen is high. The breathing of an average adult becomes in time less and less effective. There are many reasons for that; for example tensions in the body because of unreleased physical and psychic strains, bad physical condition etc. Older people usually breathe by using merely the upper part of the chest. Their oxygen intake is very limited and so is their health and mind clarity.
But it doesn’t have to be so. Even if you are not a qigong practitioner, improved and more effective breathing will raise the quality of your life in numerous areas.
Qigong and Breathing
In Qigong the air is considered as one of man’s sources of Post-heaven Qi (Post-birth Qi). Oxygen and qi are proportional; the more oxygen we get, the more qi we have.
In Qigong we use breathing also as the strategy to reach different purposes and goals (I will talk about this in future blogs).
In short, breathing is another important Qigong foundation to which is worthy to dedicate our attention, patience and time.
The learning process of a new way of breathing
Let’s say that you are not aware of your breathing and you don’t think about as it happens automatically. Then one day you find yourself on a qigong lesson (or somewhere else) where you realize that you can control your breathing consciously.
You decide that you want to improve your breathing and learn new, more effective ways of breathing. The first step (about which we will talk today) is to find out how do you breathe and try to understand your current breathing pattern. When this is clear to you, you are ready to learn how to improve your breathing.
In a learning process you first take control of your breathing (control of muscles, length of inhale, exhale…) and you consciously learn a new pattern. You practice this breathing regularly until the new way of breathing is comfortable and natural for you. Then one day you realize that the new way of breathing became a part of you, that it is happening automatically and there is no need to control it consciously anymore. The circle is closed.
How to become aware of your current breathing pattern
First step towards improving your breathing is to consciously observe your current breathing pattern. It is important that you don’t try to change your habitual breathing until you clearly understand it. The only thing that you should first do is to find out how you are breathing and feel your breathing. Then try to understand also how your breathing influences your body and your mood.
You could start to pay attention to your breathing several times during a day for a few minutes and try to observe the following things:
Which muscles do you use when you breathe?
Which part of the body moves when you breathe? Your chest, abdominal area or both? Does chest expand evenly or does only upper part of it move? Do you move your lower part of the abdomen or only its middle part? Do you breathe through your mouth or through your nose? Do you feel any tensions or even pain while you are breathing?
Quality of breathing
What is the length of your exhale and inhale? Are those equal or there’s a big difference between them? Is your breathing shallow, irregular, tense or is it calm, smooth, deep…?
How do your emotions influence your breathing?
Pay attention and explore the relation between your breathing and your emotions. Different emotions can influence differently your breathing. Better said, our body automatically responds to certain emotion by changing the breathing pattern. But – it is possible also vice versa. If we are able to control our breathing, we can influence our emotions to a certain degree. (More about this topic in some future article.)
For example try to observe your breathing on a sunny morning when you are laying in the bed knowing that a free day is waiting for you… 😉 Or pay attention to your breathing after you have been sitting, all bent, for many many hours working on a computer because there is a dead line coming for some project. Observe the change of your breathing while watching bad news on a TV or while you are in company with a dear friend…
How do your posture and your clothes influence your breathing?
Observe how your different postures influence your breathing pattern. How do you breathe when you are bent forward, chest and shoulders closed, or your neck is tensed…? Notice the difference in your breathing if you raise up your hands and you stretch and open your chest?
What is your feeling in the parts of the body which are compressed from your bra or belt or tie…? And how your breathing change when you remove these obstacles?
Breathing is part of ourselves
When you are familiar with your breathing you can reconnect with it. You are able to realize and feel that breathing is not something outside YOU but it is an integral part of your whole being. Breathing connects us with our energy body which is a bridge between our physical body and our consciousness.
May the Qi be with You!
Watch also a video on our YouTube Channel Start Being aware of your Breathing.
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