Breathing properly is the single most important concept in Chi Gung. It enables you to increase or decrease the amount and flow of chi in your body. There are three main styles of breathing. These consist of natural breathing, Buddhist Breathing, and Taoist Reverse Breathing.
- Natural breathing is what happens when you concentrate on the movements or positions of the various exercises while not thinking about any particular breathing pattern. The reason you do this is so that when you first learn any given exercise, you can concentrate exclusively on the details of what you are supposed to be doing without adding too many extra details.
- Buddhist Breathing is a deep breathing style that coordinates your breathing with the movement of your diaphragm and stomach muscles. As you inhale, allow your stomach to push out, and as you exhale let your stomach muscles relax so that your belly goes back to its normal position. This pumping action of your stomach muscles activates your Dan Tien, the chi cavity that is located about an inch and a half below your belly button. Once you have an abundant supply of chi gathered at your Dan Tien, you will learn how to move it through your body using an exercise called the Small Circulation.
- Taoist Reverse Breathing uses the opposite movements of Buddhist Breathing. Here, as you inhale, you pull in your stomach. Then as you exhale, you relax the muscles so that your belly can return to its normal position. This method of breathing is used primarily for moving chi strongly through your body to achieve particular results, such as increased muscle strength or the emission of energy from your body for healing, nonverbal communication, and energy transference.
Hugging a Tree
Paradoxically, the easiest and most difficult exercise available. When done properly, it generates a large amount of chi, which builds up at your Dan Tien because of the flexed position of the arms and legs.
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and have your knees slightly bent. As you advance in your training, you can bend your knees more until eventually your thighs are parallel to the ground. Always remember, though, to never extend your knees beyond the ends of your toes.
Hold your arms about level with your shoulders while having your palms about two feet in front of your chest. This positions should look like you are hugging a tree.
Use either Buddhist or Taoist Breathing as your breathe in and out through your nose and keep your tongue lightly pressed against the soft palate of your mouth. Remember to breathe as slowly as possible. Your should try to increase the length of each of your breaths as often as your can. For example, if this week your normal inhalation and exhalation take ten seconds each, then the next week, try to make them last for eleven seconds each. Eventually, maybe you will be able to make each breath last a minute or longer.
Hold this position for as long as you can. Initially, you might only be able to hold it for a few minutes, but by practicing regularly, you will eventually build up enough strength to hold the position for twenty minutes per day.