Life starts and ends by
taking a breath and it is obvious that we should fill out lives with good breathing habits. Our bodies needs a lot of oxygen to function properly and to help discard waste products like carbon monoxide. Every cell in
our body actually needs lots of oxygen. Today many people are conscious about what they drink and what they eat but very few think about how they breath!
Breathing affects the whole body
It affects the
nervous system, the heart, the digestive system, muscles, sleep, energy levels, concentration and memory and much more. Breathing is also our largest system for waste removal. 70% of the waste products produced in our
body is supposed to be removed via breathing. 30% is removed via the skin and only 10% remains for the kidneys and the digestive system.
We not only breath in oxygen but also life energy (Qi or Chi in China, Ki in
Japan, Mana in India).
A majority uses chest breathing
Breathing is easily affected, become restrained or blocked. Our way of breathing is actually one of the first affected by stress and emotions. According
to a resent study in Sweden 83% of the adult population uses chest breathing i.e. they only use the top part of the chest. This is a very uneconomical way of breathing as it uses more muscle power than the deeper and
more relaxed abdominal breathing. People that use chest breathing take more breaths per minute and as a consequence receive less oxygen and get rid of less waste products.
Abdominal breathing - effective breathing
Deep and effective breathing reaches all the way down to the abdomen. The abdomen expands forward, to the sides and also towards the spine. The breathing movement can be
felt all the way down towards the pelvic area and up towards the top of the lungs. Abdominal breathing has a calming and relaxing effect as we take fewer and but more effective breaths. We absorb more oxygen and release
more waste products with each breath. As an added bonus we also add more life energy, Qi, to our system by using abdominal breathing.
Don't use your chest - use your abdomen
One of my Chi Gong masters used
to say that Abdominal Breathing is like a return to childhood. Abdominal breathing not only makes us breath like we did when we where children, it can also rejuvenate bodily functions and organs.
A child still
unaffected by the habits and defense mechanisms we learn as adults, breathes naturally. If you ask a young child to lay down flat you can easily observe how he/she breathes in the rhythmic rise and fall of the
abdomen as life energy is absorbed. My master referred to abdominal breathing as natural breathing and chest breathing as reversed breathing. Abdominal breathing can be considered as taught by nature, chest breathing is
learned by the self.
Abdominal breathing exercise for a healthier life
Here is an easy way to learn again how to breath with your abdomen and receive many health benefits on the way. If you are a Reiki
practitioner it is easy to combine with the use of Reiki use your imagination/intuition or follow my suggestions. If you have not yet started your journey on the path of Reiki then you can still benefit from this
exercise as it from the beginning is a pure Chi Gong exercise.
How to do it:
- You can either stand or lie down (suggest you stand)
- Stand with your feet fairly close together
- Relax and free your mind from all thoughts (easier said than done but don't worry about it!)
- Be happy!
- Rub your hands together briskly (if you have taken Reiki 2 add the symbols in each hand at this stage). Place one palm (the left for men and the right for women) on your "Qihai" (Hara) point about 2 fingers
below your navel. Place the other palm on top of the first one.
- Open your mouth slightly
- Press gently and smoothly inward on your abdomen with your palms. Breath out during a count to six.
- Hold for a count of two
- Release smoothly and breath in under a count to six.
- Hold for a count of two. (This whole process of pressing, holding, releasing, holding is called a breathing unit)
- Repeat this whole process until you have done ten whole breathing units.
- Drop your arms to your sides and close your eyes if not already closed.
- Let go of everything and enjoy the state of "nothingness" for about five minutes or the time that feels right for you.
- When ready rub your hands together and "wash" your face with them. Open your eyes and walk a few steps.
Here are a few tips for you:
To do this correctly you breath out on pressing and breath in on releasing. In the beginning try and forget about the breathing it usually takes care of itself. Concentrate on the pressing and releasing. Practice once in the morning and once in the evening for a couple of weeks and see how you feel! As you go along you can add more units to your exercise. If you feel stressed, upset or tired this is a very good and quick exercise to revitalize yourself. There is a second and third stage of this exercise where you visualize bad energy leaving you when pressing and good energy entering when releasing. I will try and write something about this later.
"Practice is the mother of all skills"
Enjoy and good luck!