In many ways what we have covered in this course so far has really just been the basics of breathing. The four breathing adaptations of: Location of Expansion, Speed, Rhythm, and Mouth or Nose can be combined together in so many different ways to achieve different effects on our physiology, our psychology and our energy functioning. When you combine other factors such as posture and movement and visualization and symbolism you start to understand the diversity of qigong practices.
It is my hope that the information and practices in this course will have given you enough of a foundational understanding of breathing that you will be able to begin to analyse and understand the different breathing patterns and exercises you encounter in different qigong practices. This will allow you understand the purpose of what you are practicing and also allow you to adapt and modify practices where needed to better suit your own needs.
Interpreting the purpose of different exercises can sometimes be challenging, particularly when some of the effects seem paradoxical. For example – breathing through the nose is typical of relaxed breathing and yet we use sniffing – a specific type of nose breathing, as a way of stimulating greater activity. This is an example of the seed of yang being found within yin. Interestingly when we sniff this strongly activates the uppermost (or most yang) breathing muscles around the neck and shoulders. Also when we pant through our mouths while being physically active, this feeds our activity or our yang and helps to warm our bodies. Yet if we pant too much or breathe through our mouths in the wrong circumstances this can make us feel faint and our bodies to be cold. This is an example of excess yang leading to a condition of depletion.
There are also many other different factors that can sometimes be included in different breathing exercises that you may not have encountered yet that may challenge your understanding. But with the foundation understanding from this course you will have a good start on figuring out how other pieces of the puzzle fit together, and at the very least of being able to ask better questions to help you understand more.
This Week’s Practice Sessions
This week your practice sessions will consist of analysing breathing patterns for different qigong exercises you are familiar with and experimenting with modifying these breathing patterns. Choose one or several different qigong exercises to practice and analyse.
Some qigong practices have very specific instructions for breathing. If this is the case, use what you have learned in this course, in particular using the four breathing adaptations to analyse what the effects of breathing in this way are and why this pattern of breathing has been chosen to go with the qigong practice. Then consider if you wanted to alter the effect of the practice how you might change the breathing. If you wanted to make the practice more relaxed, how would you change the breathing? If you wanted to make the practice more energising how would you change it?
If you choose a qigong practice that does not have specific instructions for breathing, consider why that might be? Do the qigong practice and take note of how you normally breathe while doing the practice. Consider how you might alter your breathing to achieve different effects from the practice. Experiment with using different breathing patterns while doing the practice and notice how they make you feel.
- Breathing and Practice Analysis – 30 minutes