Qi Breathing Exercise 2
Lower Your Breath
Extending the breath, like in the previous exercise, also makes it deeper - but not to the extent that this below exercise is able.
A breath that is to stimulate the qi flow must take place deep in your body, what is usually called belly breathing or diaphragm breathing. Most people breathe exclusively with their chest, maybe as high up as the shoulders. This leads to short breaths and persistent tension around the shoulders. Such breathing also afflicts the mind with unrest and insecurity. That is as far from relaxation as one can get.
The Eastern ideal is instead to breathe with the belly, actually as low as the bottom of the abdomen. Of course it is still the lungs that get the air, but you should feel very clearly that the shoulders relax while your abdomen moves with the breaths you take, as if the air goes all the way down there. Opera singers do the same kind of breathing. It carries their voices better, and gives them power to really sing out.
If you have never tried belly breathing, it can be quite tricky to learn. Breathing is something the body does without the conscious mind being involved in it - around the clock, and year after year. Such habits are difficult to change. We continue with the same old habits, if we do not make the proper efforts to alter them. Your body has to learn a new way of doing what it has done in pretty much the same way all your life. Expect it to take time, maybe years, before you are belly breathing without having to think about it. No doubt, you have to practice it daily.
First you must find that deep breathing, in the lower abdomen. This is the most effective method I know, to accomplish that. Still, count on quite some time before you get it right.
How to do it
- You can stand or sit in this exercise, but the best is probably if you lie down on your back, like in some of the previous exercises. When you have learned to find a deep belly breathing, it is not necessary anymore to do it lying down. By then you should be able to do it sitting, standing, or even walking. Loose clothing is helpful, and in the beginning probably quite necessary. Loosen what might be tight, especially around your belly. The less clothes the better. Even very loose garments have a tendency to slightly inhibit your breathing.
- Relax and take a few normal breaths, so that you calm down.
- Put the palm of one of your hands on your belly, between the navel and the crotch. There should be good contact, but do not press the hand on your belly. Observe that it is the palm of your hand that is important, and not the fingers. They should be passive. Otherwise they can confuse and disturb your breathing.
- Breathe in and then start a slow exhalation. Do not breathe out through your mouth, which tends to bring the breathing up toward your chest, but through your nose.
- Now, make a sudden and forceful exhalation, by which you try to push the hand on your belly. Make it bump, only by your sudden exhalation. Do not push with your body. The hips should not move at all. The push should come from within your stomach. In the beginning it is probably a kind of wave from your chest and downward, but by time you should be able to do the push with your stomach, and nothing else. It is tricky at first. Try again and again, until you succeed.
- Take a new breath and repeat the pushing of your hand with your exhalation. Remember to start the exhalation slowly, before you make the push. Otherwise the body tends to resist and get tense. You should repeat the exercise until you feel that you manage to push the palm of your hand from inside your stomach, without the rest of the body helping noticeably.
This exercise is intended to lower the breathing of a person who is not used to breathe with the belly. When you have learned this, it is no longer necessary to repeat the exercise. Later on, you may benefit from testing it now and then, although you know how to belly breathe, just to check that you really breathe as far down in your abdomen as you wish.
Do not underestimate the depth of proper belly breathing. If you succeed when you hold your hand in the middle between the navel and your crotch, continue by moving it further down, closer to your crotch, and try again. If you can breathe down at the very bottom of your abdomen, then you have opened your breathing completely.
It is advantageous, not to say necessary, to let this exercise be followed by the next one - especially if you are in the process of learning belly breathing, and trying to make it a habit.
Qi Breathing Exercises
Here is a set of simple breathing exercises designed to increase your qi energy flow. I recommend that you do them in the given order, when you try them out. Once you've become familiar with them, you can do them in any order you please. Trust your instincts.
© Stefan Stenudd
This is a chapter of my book Qi: Increase your Life energy.
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I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. I've written several books about aikido, qi energy and other life force concepts. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching the thought patterns in creation myths. Click the image to get to my personal website.