Breathing is an essential element of health. The following breathing practices improve body, emotion, and mind. Practice a little bit regularly, and stay grounded.
Breathe easy, be content.
slowly and fully by letting your chest rise, then your solar plexus,
then expand your belly (pull your diaphragm down) to pull air deep into
your lungs. Air will fill all the way down to around your naval all the
way up to your throat.
Exhale slowly and completely
by relaxing. Let your diaphragm relax and rise naturally, your lungs
will release air. To remove stagnant air and exhale completely, compress
your abdomen gently at the natural end of your exhale so that you force
out any remaining air you have (be gentle so to not disturb your
insides, you are doing this to help refresh them not stress them).
Some call this square breathing, 4×4 breaths, four-way breathing, grounding breaths.
Begin by exhaling completely.
Inhale as described in the full breathing comment. As you do count to 4. This count should be comfortable for you, it is not 4 seconds, it is just breaking up the natural time it takes for you to inhale fully into 4 sections. 1, 2, 3, 4 at your pace. Whatever the pace is, keep this same pace throughout this exercise.
Hold your breath in for the same pace count 1, 2, 3, 4.
Exhale as described in the full breathing comment. 1, 2, 3, 4.
Hold your exhale out for the same pace count 1, 2, 3, 4.
Repeat this process 4 complete times with your awareness following the breath and the count. This will help you with energy.
Basic Qi’gong Form for Four-Fold Breathing
Mindful body movements can be added to this ‘4 square breathing’ as in Daoist qi’gong exercise.
Begin in basic qi’gong posture. You can learn simple and comfortable qi’gong forms in videos or local instruction. Legs shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, feet straight forward or slightly angled. Relax and practice good posture, as if a golden string runs from your tailbone up through the back of your head and out the top of your head to support you.
Inhale as you bring your arms from resting position up to shoulder-height with relaxed full arm length outward. As you raise your arms, also raise your body by straightening your legs, but keep your knees at least slightly bent at all times.
Hold breath in as you gently drag your hands close to your chest (near where your chest and shoulders meet), letting your arms calmly fold at elbows to do so. Try to keep your hands at a constant elevation – comfortable shoulder height – as you draw them near.
Exhale as you smoothly lower your hands from near your chest to near your hips, keeping hands near your body (~1″ in front of you). Let your body ease into gravity, bending your knees as you sink into a slight squat.
Hold breath out as you move your hands forward, near hip-height, until your arms are in a relaxed full extension.
As you begin the next cycle with an inhale, raise your arms in front of you to shoulder-height as in the beginning. Continue with four fold breath and hand motion, slightly straightening upward with inhales and squatting downward with exhales.
Complete the practice with an exhale that presses your attention and qi into the ‘lower cauldron‘, storing energy in one’s center of gravity, at the location three-finger-widths below one’s belly button and within mid-way between front and back. Relax as you release that exhale and continue relaxed, down-to-Earth breathing. Feel gravity and peace, and give thanks to all practitioners of all time in service to all.
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