How to breath during meditation and Qigong
One of the biggest struggles early on in my Qigong practice was the breath-work. It was very difficult to synchronize meditation, movement, and breathing all at the same time. In this blog I will teach you how I was able to put it altogether.
One mInd, one breath
In Chinese martial arts they have saying that says, Yi leads to Qi .Yi is referring to a clear mind and intention which leads to the building and controlling of energy (Qi). Its important to set your intentions within your practice to regulate your thoughts to focus on relaxing your physical body and concentrating on your breath.
It is also said that breathing and the mind are interdependent. So slowing down and relaxing one, will in turn do the same for the other. It is through relaxation where you are able to optimize energy flow and the connection to your muscles that control your breathing.
The most common breathing technique is diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing. This is when the lower abdomen (belly) is expanded on the inhale and slowly retracted on the exhale. There are few key points to remember when using this technique:
Calm and Silent: Breathe as quiet as you can to allow for better regulation of your mind and the slowing down of your thoughts.
Small steady stream: Focus on a small steady flow of air like a thin stream of water.
Dont inhale or exhale to full capacity: Inhale and exhale only about 70% to 80% to reduce the likelihood of chest breathing and the tensing of surrounding muscles that will restrict breathing.
Long but dont hold: Focus on keeping inhale and exhale as long as possible but without holding your breath
Continuous flow: Allow your breathing to be natural and continuous throughout in order to minimize the tensing of the body
Uniform and smooth : regulate your mind and thoughts to achieve a uniform and smooth breath without interruption.
Slow and natural: Slow down your mind and breath naturally. Make sure not to rush your breathing or the meditation.
Soft and deep : Soft breathing leads you to a deeper and more relaxed meditation
Now, although this technique can be easily practiced, that doesn't mean it is easily mastered. When done correctly, diaphragmatic breathing should be soft, smooth, and long. Most adults are use to chest breathing or shallow breathing which makes it more difficult to learn this belly breathing pattern.
Ive been practicing consistently for over 6 and half months 3-5 times a week and there are days where my breathing is not perfect, but most days I see improvement. It took me , more or less, 3 months to connect with my breathing to the point where it was consistently smooth. Before that time, I would often lose rhythm, lose focus, run out of air, or feel as if I was breathing through a straw.
It is difficult at first to synchronize, but with time and diligent practice you will get there.
Through my practice there are few ways that I have been able to simplify my application of abdominal breathing and energy building that I use in Qigong. I have categorized them by position and intention.
Stationary: standing still in the traditional Wu Ji or standing posture and leading the breath and energy into specific areas such as hands, arms, feet, and skin
Dynamic : Coordinating the movement of hands and legs with your breathing to lead the energy where you want.
Tonifying : intentionally gathering and leading energy to nourish the body and specific areas with your breathing and visualization
Dispersing : intentionally moving and leading energy within the body to clear stagnation and accumulation out of specific areas with breathing and visualization
There are many possible benefits to incorporating a meditative practice like Qigong. Among them are:
Reduced Blood Pressure
Increased Lung Efficiency
Mental Clarity and Focus
Ultimately with consistent practice, you have the opportunity to learn how to regulate your mind, connect with your breath, and build longterm health.
The Root of Chinese Qigong: Secrets of Health, Longevity, & Enlightenment by Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang Ph.D.