Ten Life Secrets I Learned in T’ai Chi & Qigong #3

    3. Breathe from your lower abdomen.

    Another foundation of T’ai Chi and Qigong is full, conscious breathing.  In contrast, shallow rapid breathing is characteristic of being in a state of stress.  Learning to become aware of your breathing process, feel it, and deepen it has a therapeutic effect on your whole being.

    A full breath is initiated by your diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle at the base of your ribs.  The diaphragm is a muscular sheath beneath your heart and lungs and above your digestive organs.  When you inhale fully, your diaphragm flattens downward opening space for your lungs to inflate above.  The flattening of your diaphragm presses down on your digestive organs, increasing pressure in your lower abdomen and making you feel as if that area is filling up.  Increased lower abdominal pressure is a sign of taking a nice full breath.

    Taking full, slow, rhythmic, conscious breaths has an entraining effect on your heart and your brain.  It brings your emotions into balance and your brainwaves into coherence.  It initiates a “relaxation response” and just feels good.  It’s a great way to come down from feeling “stressed out.”

    Here are some cues to practice: Place your hands on your lower abdomen.  As you inhale, imagine and feel as if your lower abdomen fills up first, followed by your torso and chest up to your collarbone.  As you exhale, imagine and feel that your whole torso empties out from top to bottom.

    You might imagine two vertical balloons running up through both sides of your torso, from your lower abdomen up to your collarbones.  As you inhale, imagine that these fill from bottom to top.  As you exhale, imagine that they empty from top to bottom.  Once you get a good feel for this process, try not to force it.  Simply pay attention to your breathing and, as you relax more deeply, observe how your breath naturally slows and deepens.

    Try taking conscious breathing breaks throughout your day to come back to center.


    Kevin Schoeninger

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    “>Ten Life Secrets I Learned in T’ai Chi & Qigong #4

      One Response to “Ten Life Secrets I Learned in T’ai Chi & Qigong #3”

      1. Guy in NM says:

        Deep breathing and earth grounding (barefoot!!)are the most effective stress relievers for me!

        Great series Kevin!

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