The Fourth Secret of Qigong – Breath

Breathing is so basic.

Mostly, you breathe without thinking about it. And if you need more oxygen, for example to hike uphill, your body automatically adjusts to breathe deeper and faster.

At the same time, you can also control your breathing. You can hold your breath. You can change the depth of your breathing to be shallow or deeply into your abdomen. You can modify the speed of your breathing.

So breathing is at once both automatic and under conscious control.

In qigong, you will use the fact that you can control your breathing to increase the effectiveness of your practice. Here are some considerations to help you do this:

Coordinate your breathing with your movement. For example, in many exercises, when you move your hands away from your body you exhale. When you move them towards your body you inhale.

Use your diaphragm. Unless you’ve had training, you probably never considered that there are 2 sets of muscles related to breathing. The muscles in your chest expand your chest when you inhale. Your diaphragm is a bell-shaped muscle below your lungs and above your abdominal organs. It’s represented by the pink area in the above diagram.

Make your breath as deep as possible without straining. That will slow down your breathing. It will also trigger what’s called the “Relaxation Response.” Your whole body will be able to relax more deeply when you do this.

It’s simple, but when you tie together all 4 secrets, it is very powerful. Next time, we’ll talk about how to do this.

All the best for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger

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