Monday, October 24, 2011

The mechanics of Full breathing

Definition: Full breathing means breathing in oxygen to the full capacity of the lungs. The teaching of Tao meditation (and tai-chi) is more conceptual and leaves the details for personal coaching and individual "investigation" (or "enlightenment" 領悟)of the practitioners. The teaching of Yoga on the hand is more technical (and oftentimes "didactic"), the students have to follow in details step by step.

Both approaches have their own rationale. What is unique about a Taoist (or tai-chi) approach in full breathing? It is the use of meditative points (守意). My procedure of Full breathing in Taoist meditation (and tai-chi) is as follows:
  1. Preparation:
    • Seated, folder legs or with feet touching the ground.
      • Hands in meditative stretched state
        • Being alerted to meditative state, in particular Points-stretched; body-relax (點緊身松)
        1. Stage one: filling the lower abdomen:
          • To fill one's lower abdomen, push down one's pelvic floor muscles
            • Point of focus to exercise force: perineum 會陰  (muscles between anus and genital,either of these two can also act as a focused point)
            1. Stage two: filling the upper abdomen:
              • To fill one's upper abdomen, push down one's diaphragm and expand it outward
              • Point of focus to exercise force downwards: dantian 丹田 (point about 1-2 inches parallel to and behind navel) 
              • Point of focus to exercise outward expansion: Dai-mai 帶脈 or chi-belt around one's diaphragm, activated by dantian focus.
              1. Stage three: filling the mid-lungs:
                • To fill one's mid-lungs, push one's sternum outwards
                • Point of focus to exercise force outwards: danzhong 膻中(position check Breathing page)
                1. Stage four: filling the upper lungs:
                  • To fill one's upper lungs, raise upper lungs upwards
                  • Point of focus to exercise force upwards: jianjing 肩井(position check Breathing page)
                  • Facilitative move: head slightly bending forward/downward (Indian Yoga's Jhalandara Banha, throat lock, serves similar purpose).
                  In breathing out, a practitioner should do it in the reverse order.

                  In future posts, I shall talk more about a comparison with Yoga's breathing approach.

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