(Qigong Breathing – 2)
In a different Qigong schools the regulation of breathing was one of the most important areas of practice. Effective breathing is actually of primary importance for good health, longevity, emotional stability and for peaceful and clear mind. Breathing is related to the abundance of qi that we have and to the ability to lead and manipulate it. The cultivation of breathing is necessary if we want to achieve deeper meditative states.
Cultivating the Skill of Breathing
Throughout centuries different approaches and methods of breathing were developed. The cultivation of breathing skill is in Qigong a lifelong process in which we continue to develop our breathing to become more and more effective and refined. Breathing becomes our strategy and we are more and more able to use it for specific purposes in Qigong and in life in general.
Quality of breathing that we want to develop
In qigong we are learning the way of breathing by which we do not over stimulate our body and make it too Yang. Usually we use normal abdominal breathing where we use thoracic diaphragm (or in short diaphragm). In the first stage we want to develop relaxed, even, smooth and calm breathing. We practice this breathing until it becomes natural for us. We are ready to proceed and to refine our breathing further to become deep, long and soft.
What are the basic purposes of Regulation of Breathing in Qigong
There are many reasons why Qigong cultivate breathing but I will enlist only few of the most basic:
Oxygen supply of the body and expelling carbon dioxide from the body
When we inhale we draw in our lungs oxygen which then supply through the blood circulation every cell of our body and enable them to function efficiently. The amount of the oxygen that we get into a body is primarily related to the air quality and to the degree of our breathing skills.
The quantity of oxygen influences all our tissues. Oxygen deficiency causes faster degeneration of the whole body. The most sensitive part of the body is brain. Brain cells need more oxygen as other cells. The consequences of improper breathing are also worse concentration and loose of mental clarity.
When we exhale we expel from our body a carbon dioxide which is formed in our body as waste product in a different energy making processes. Because of the improper, shallow breathing, the carbon dioxide can stagnate in the body and exceeds its normal level. This influences in a very bad way our health.
In Qigong we want to inhale the most oxygen possible and to exhale in the most efficient way waste products in a form of carbon dioxide.
Breathing as massage of internal organs
If you are not familiar with the internal structures of human torso, including a thoracic diaphragm (in short diaphragm) and internal organs, take for a while an anatomy atlas. It will be clear to you how the movements of a diaphragm influence the internal organs. When we inhale a diaphragm moves down and presses gently internal organs below and when we exhale it moves up and the pressure is released. You will find in qigong often an expression “breathing as massage of internal organs”. This “massage” stimulates and relaxes internal organs and also regulates the pressure of our torso which over years decreases. It is important that the movement of diaphragm is gentle and we don’t use force. This kind of breathing also strengthens abdominal muscles.
From the energy aspect abdominal breathing helps to increase Water Qi of the body and balance Fire Qi.
Breathing can regulate emotions
Our emotions are tightly connected to a breathing and by breathing consciously we are able to regulate emotions to a certain degree. Breathing is also mutually connected with the state of our mind. When our mind is calm and clear we are also emotionally calm and stable. Our breathing is smooth and the lengths of inhale and exhale are even. As soon as we become for example angry or excited in any way, we start to breathe faster and our exhalation is stronger, the heart rate increase. In qigong the regulation of our emotional mind (Xin) is one of the first steps to a more peaceful breathing.
Breathing to increase the intake of Air Qi
After our birth we start to rely on different sources of Qi, for example air and food, which Chinese define as Post-birth Qi or Post-Heaven Qi. The oxygen in the air and Qi are in a reciprocal relationship – the more oxygen that we get the more qi we have. We can get more qi by breathing air of good quality, full of oxygen. But if we are breathing improperly this wouldn’t help us a lot. Contrary, if we are very skilled in breathing we can get into our lungs bigger quantity of the air and lead it deep down into lungs. In this way the body will be better supplied by oxygen and consecutively with more qi.
Breathing as the key to lead Qi
In Qigong breathing is a key to lead Qi. By using our breathing we can lead qi to the limbs and open energy channels there. This method is also used in martial arts to increase a fighting power.
Using our breathing we can be able also to lead qi to our skin and consciously strengthen our Guardian Qi (Wei Qi) whose function is to protect us from outside pathogen influences and diseases.
With the use of breathing we can also exchange our qi with the environment and we are able to connect with the primary forces of Heaven and Earth.
Breathing as the key to lead our mind to deeper meditative states
By practicing regulation of breathing we can learn how to lead our mind into a more quiet and deep states. These kind of breathing causes heart bit to slow down and also our brain waves become slower… We reach states where we are able to comprehend and feel things that in our normal awake state, when Beta waves are active, we cannot.
These are in short some of the reasons why as qigong practitioners we want to cultivate our breathing. About some of these topics I will be writing more in detail in the future.
May the Qi with you! 🙂
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