Intro to Chi Kung and Ha-Tha Yoga Breathing Exercises

Learn How Correct Breathing Correlates to Healing

How does Correct Breathing Correlate to Healing?

In order to keep the brain functioning properly, you first have to provide it with plenty of oxygen.  Modern science tells us that a brain cell needs more than ten times as much oxygen as any other cell in the body.  That means that when there is an oxygen deficiency in your body, your brain will be the first organ to sense it, and you will feel dizzy.  If the condition persists, the brain cells will be damaged before any other cells.  When people get old, their inhalations usually become shorter and shorter, and their bodies run short of oxygen.  This may account for the the fact that memory loss is one of the first symptoms of aging.

In Chi Kung, training the breath is a vital requirement.  It is called "Tyau Shyi" or "regulating the breath."  The goal of regulating your breath is learning how to increase the oxygen input while keeping the body relaxed.  In advanced Chi Kung training, you must also learn how to reduce the waste of oxygen during meditation.  This is done by leading your mind into a very deep and relaxed meditative state.

How do I Activate More Brain Cells?

We normally use only 30-35% of our brain cells, which means we are wasting 65-70% of our brains.  This is like having a big computer, but only using a third of it.  Through Chi Kung it is possible to increase the percentage of your brain that you use.  This will enable you to feel what ordinary people cannot feel, sense what ordinary people cannot sense, and see and judge the future more clearly. 

When your brain has reached the higher stages of sensitivity it will be able to act like a radio station and communicate with the energy of nature and other human minds.  Theoretically, it is very simple to reach this goal.  If you increase the amount of Chi or bioelectricity going to your brain, you will activate more brain cells.  It is believed that once the unused cells have been activated, they will remain activated.

Since a brain cell requires more than ten times as much oxygen as other cells, it is reasonable to assume that they will also need at least ten times as much Chi.  If this is correct, then you will need to know how to generate a large quantity of Chi in your body.

It is believed that, as you activate more brain cells, you will increase the energy level of your brain.  Naturally, this will increase the sensitivity of your brain, and also raise your spirit.  When people reach the higher levels as they meditate they will generate a large electrical charge in their brains.  This will react with the atmosphere around their heads creating a halo effect which may be visible in the dark (related to the enlightened depiction of angels).

Once you are able to lead your spirit to a higher level, you will be able to use it to govern your Chi circulation more effectively.  This is the main key to longevity.

The Art of Effortless Effort in Doing Breathing Exercises

By Dennis Lewis with addendums by R.F. Directo

Brain Improvement, Energy Health, and Spiritual Gifts

Without knowing it, many of us who work with our breathing actually try too hard. Our efforts are based on force, on will power, not on skill and sensitivity. Instead of working with the laws of natural breathing we work against them. The more we try to breathe naturally, the more tension we create in our minds, emotions, and bodies, and the more we restrict the movement of our diaphragm and other breathing muscles.

This not only wastes energy, but it also floods the body with excessive adrenaline and metabolic waste. Unnecessary tension increases our heart and breath rates. Unnecessary tension also causes our sensory system to go on alert sending distress signals to the brain, which further increases our level of stress and tension. {See the brain at the left - This is your brain due to unnecessary tension!}

One of the main keys to learning "natural breathing" is a sense of effortlessness and comfort. As you work with the belly breathing exercise, for instance, be sure to work slowly, gently, and patiently. When you put your hands on your belly, be sure that your hands are warm. {Rub your palms together vigorously about twenty four times. This techniques is also used for warming the kidneys.} Really let yourself feel the warm, comforting sensation of your hands on your belly {surrounding the naval area}. This will help you relax and will attract the movement of your breath into this part of your body.

As you work comfortably in this way, you will begin to work more from the sensation of what is actually happening rather than from a picture of what you think should be happening. This is important. It is through increasing sensitivity to our inner sensation that we can begin to make great strides in our work with breath.

Doing the belly breathing exercise, for example, you may sense that your belly wants to expand as you inhale, but that something keeps it from this expansion. When you sense this, there will be a temptation to use your muscles to push your belly out. Resist this temptation. Simply stay with whatever sensation you have there, and gently massage all around your navel, gradually widening the area of your massage to include your entire belly. As you continue this gentle massage, the muscles in your belly will gradually begin to relax. Let yourself enjoy this sensation of relaxation, and you will soon find your belly more involved in your breath.

If you practice this exercise regularly, eventually you won't have to use your hands at all. Simply putting your attention inside your belly will be enough to attract your breath there.

{This exercise can also be used for directing energy to other parts of the body in more sophisticated techniques of meditation. The area in this exercise is the necessary beginning to natural breathing because we first started extracting nutrients through the umbilicus (naval). Natural breathing should be central to the "tan t'ien" about two inches below the umbilicus and about two inches inside the body (our center of gravity). We still draw energy through the naval, but the "tan t'ien" is where bioenergy builds like a capacitor.}

To sum up: as you practice doing breathing exercises be sure to try less and enjoy more. The key is effortless effort. For most of us, our efforts are filled with unnecessary muscular contractions and tensions. When our body is freed from these unnecessary contractions and tensions, it knows how to breathe in the most appropriate way possible in any situation.

BELLY BREATHING EXERCISE

Before we were born, our mother provided through our umbilical cord the nutrients, food, and oxygen that we needed to live. In many traditions, the area just below the navel and midway into the body is considered to be a sacred center of energy. In any event, our belly is one of the major areas that get tight and tense when we are under a lot of stress. And this greatly affects our internal organs, our breath, our energy, and our overall health.

In this breathing exercise, we are going to work with "belly breathing" in order to open our belly and allow our diaphragm to move deeper down into our abdomen on inhalation and farther up to squeeze our lungs and support our heart on exhalation. This will have a powerful influence on our respiration, on the way we breathe in the many conditions of our lives.

How to Practice the Belly Breathing Exercise

1. Lie down comfortably on your back on your bed or on a mat or carpeted floor. Position yourself with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent (pointing upward). Simply follow your breathing for a minute or two with your attention. See if you can sense which parts of your body your breath touches.

2. Continue to follow your breathing as you rub your hands together until they are very warm.

3. Put your hands (one on top of the other) on your belly, with the center of your lower hand touching your navel. Watch how your breathing responds.

4. You may notice that your belly wants to expand as you inhale and retract as you exhale. Let this happen, but don't try to force it.

5. If your belly seems tight, rub your hands together again until they are warm and then massage your belly, especially right around the outside edge of your belly button. Notice how your belly begins to soften and relax.

6. Now rub your hands together again until they are warm and put them on your belly again. Watch how this influences your breath. Do not try to do anything. Simply watch and enjoy as your belly begins to come to life, expanding as you inhale and retracting as you exhale.

7. If your belly still seems overly tight and does not want to move as you breathe, press down with your hands on your belly as you exhale. Then as you inhale, gradually release the tension. Try this several times. Notice how your belly begins to open more on inhalation.

8. When you are ready to stop, be sure to sense your entire abdominal area, noting any special sensations of warmth, comfort, and energy. Spend a few minutes allowing these sensations to spread into all the cells of your belly all the way back to your spine.

This simple practice will have a highly beneficial affect on your breathing, especially if you do it on a regular basis. Remember that you can try this practice at any time of the day or night. Though it's easiest if you are lying down, you can also do it sitting, standing, walking, and so on. It is an excellent practice to try before you get out of bed in the morning. It is also an excellent practice to work with whenever you are anxious or tense, since it will help relax you and center your energy. Over time, it will help deepen your breathing and make it more natural.


 

Why is Correct Breathing an important prelude to Chi Kung / QiGong?

One of the most important aspects of your life is the way you breathe. Human beings were designed to breathe in deeply and slowly through the nostrils, hold for a few seconds, then exhale slowly, through the mouth. Breathing any other way is incorrect unless you have a blockage in the nasal passages. People who habitually inhale through the mouth are, statistically, less intelligent than nose breathers because the nostrils contain membranes that act as filters for contaminants in the air you breathe. When you breathe in through the mouth. these contaminants are not removed. They are then absorbed by the lungs and carried via the bloodstream to the brain where the toxins accumulate.

How The Element of Will is important to Correct Breathing

The Breathing pattern reflects the state of mind. We have only to think of how differently people breathe when in different states of mind. A person enjoying a good book breathes quite differently than a person enjoying sexual intercourse. The person who is reading will breathe quietly and rather slowly. This is characteristic of deep concentration, whereas the person who is having sex will breathe deeply and more rapidly. There are also characteristic modes of breathing for all the other mental states as well.

Alexander Cannon, who wrote The Invisible Influence, invented a device, called the 'Cannon Psychometer,' which he used to determine a person's state of mind by measuring the state of his breathing. The device was used to determine when a person was in the ideal state of mind for telepathic experiments. But it could also identify other states of mind as well.

For example, it could determine how relatively excitable a certain person is. The average person breathes between twelve and twenty times a minute, and the more often he breathes - the more breaths per minute - the more excitable he is. This concept extends to animals. A hen averages about thirty breaths per minute, whereas a duck averages only twenty. This explains the obvious fact that both ducks and hens are more excitable than human beings, and that a hen is obviously more excitable than a duck. A monkey averages about thirty breaths per minute, a dog twenty-eight, a cat twenty-four, a horse Sixteen, and a tortoise three.

You may have noticed that relative excitability is also tied in with relative longevity. A dog has a shorter average life span than a cat, and of course the tortoise, slowest breather of all, is also one of the longest-lived animals.

This principle also applies to man. Hindu yogis say that every man is granted by karma a certain number of breaths, and that when that certain number of breaths is completed, the man dies. Now, yogis say that man averages about fifteen breaths per minute, which comes to precisely 21,600 breaths in a twenty-four hour day. If one could somehow slow down one's breathing, one could increase one's life expectancy.

extract of chakra system from Time Magazine

That may be difficult to do without using special techniques, but something of the sort occurs during meditation. In meditation a person's average rate of breathing may slow down to as little as six breaths per minute. The prelude to Chi Kung exercises will put you on that little known road which should come naturally to all human kind.

All of the exercises and healing techniques contained here begin with cleansing breaths which clean out negativity and toxins from the mind and body. Remember that physical life begins with the first breath. The first breath represents the moment that the soul-personality enters the body for the duration of the allotted lifetime. Therefore, each person spends time during his/her life to recreate the purity and cleanliness of the body when the personality entered.

These exercises are designed to purify the mind, body, and soul-personality and to create a condition of peace, harmony, and high energy. Some form of breathing exercise performed on a daily, basis will attain this.

How to do Cleansing Breaths

This exercise is the same as Cleansing Breaths at Cleansing the Soul except you will focus on using more of your senses. Begin by making yourself comfortable. Wearing unrestrictive clothing, you may either lay down or sit in a chair, with hands at your side or on your lap. Breathe in deeply and slowly through the nostrils, filling the bottoms of the lungs. Simultaneously, visualize a white light entering the crown chakra, flushing through the entire body down to the bottoms of your feet. The light should be warm, refreshing, and cleansing.

As you slowly exhale through the mouth, see the light exit containing flecks and pieces of the toxins and negativity that were inside of your body. The escaping toxins should be cold, putrid, and bitter. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then repeat the entire process. Continue until the white light exits the body is as pure as the white light that enters through the crown chakra. You may need to do this several times until you are completely cleansed. Perform these breaths before any meditation.

What is the purpose of Alternating Nostrils?

This technique is designed to open either hemisphere of the brain. For example, If you desire to be right-brain activated, you must breathe exclusively, through the left nostril. Remember, the right brain controls the left half of the body and the left-brain controls the right half of the body.

You will want to be right-brain activated when you attempt a creative, emotional, or spiritual endeavor. You will need to be left-brain activated when you attempt a logical, material, earthbound project.

For the beginner, hold a finger over the nostril you wish to keep closed. When you wish to breathe through the right nostril only hold a finger over the side of the left nostril gently pressing until the passageway is completely closed. Do not perform this exercise if you are ill with any type of respiratory illness.

After the passageway is closed breathe slowly and deeply through the remaining opened nostril. Hold the breath for several seconds then exhale slowly through the mouth. After a lot of exercise you will learn to mentally choose the nostril through which you want to breathe and only breathe through it without having to physically close off the other one

Yogis say that the moon breath will be dominant at sunrise on the first day of the `bright fortnight` (waxing) and that the dominant nostril will change every two hours thereafter. The left nostril will again be dominant on the second and third days of the bright fortnight, but on the fourth the pattern will reverse. On the fourth, fifth, and sixth days, the dominant nostril at sunrise will be the Sun Breath - changing again to the Moon Breath for three days beginning with the seventh day, and so on through the Lunar Month.

On the first day of the `dark fortnight` (waning) the "moon" in the body wanes with the moon in the sky. At sunrise, the first day of the dark fortnight, we find that the Sun Breath is dominant.

All these astral influences can be counter acted by the state of mind, which can be affected by other astral influences. Thus, if the Sun Breath is not dominant at a certain time when the astrological influences indicate that it should be, then some condition in your consciousness is interfering with this natural process. Ideally, this should never happen. (See your biorhythm in relation to moon phase.)

Your state of mind also affects the way you breathe through your two nostrils. Human beings normally only breathe through one nostril at a time without realizing it. When you are conscious of this you can determine at any time which side of the brain is active. This conscious knowledge you control your emotions and creativity. When you enter a confrontational experience, for example, breathe through the left nostril so that the right brain becomes active and will diffuse the situation. If you are about to take a test breathe through the right nostril so that the left brain takes over. With practice you can balance your breathing through the day so life can be more harmonious.

(Note: Yogis say that the left nostril is the passageway for the Moon Breath, whereas the right nostril is the passageway. for the Sun Breath. Therefore we have the name of Hatha Yoga, Ha-Tha, which means literally 'Sun-Moon.' The Sun Breath is supposed to be positive, masculine, and warm, whereas the Moon Breath is negative, feminine, and cool. The Sun Breath is said traditionally to be connected to the right trunk of the sympathetic nervous system via a psychic channel called a nadi, and the same is true of the Moon Breath. It, too, is connected to the left trunk of the sympathetic nervous system via another nadi. These two trunks, the right and the left, are located physically on the right and left sides of the spinal column and are known as Pingala and Ida respectively.)

What does the CADUCEUS symbolize? How is the caduceus symbol important to breathing?

(keryx, "herald - a herald's wand, kerukeion). Representative of the spinal column: matter and spirit intertwining to produce the manifest world and to create a channel for the sexless Sushumna power. Pingala and Ida, the two serpents, are male and female. Ultimately, the embodiment of Kundalini: the sexual, hence vital force or "healing power." The doubled serpent is unconditional, absolute wisdom. A herald's wand confers immunity in all regions - protection from attack (especially since the serpents are vipers).

Apart from being the emblem of the wandering healer, the caduceus also stands for the Qabalah as a whole. The staff itself is the middle pillar and the serpents are the two flanking pillars, representing the slippery extremes that reflect one another back and forth. A recently unearthed hieroglyph depicts Thoth with a staff surmounted by two cobras bearing, respectively, the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt (the conscious and unconscious mind). In medicine, the black and white serpents signify disease and health.

the chakra channels

Now this is important because at any given time either the Moon Breath or the Sun Breath is dominant, which means that we breathe much more strongly from the right nostril than the left, or vice versa. The nostril through which most of your breath is passinging any given time is called your dominant nostril in yoga, and it changes every two hours with certain tides on the subtler planes.

If it does not change every two hours, illness may be on the way. If your dominant nostril remains the same for a day, illness is certain. And if it remains the same for more than a day, the illness will be serious. Also, if a man and a woman conceive a child, if both are breathing through the right nostril at the moment of conception, the child will surely be a boy. If through the left, it will surely be a girl. (Remember the days of yore when man blamed woman if they had nothing but girls? 'Tis surely a two way street m'lad!) But if the man is breathing through one and the woman through the other, the child may be of either sex.

In the ideal world, we would be able to latch onto our psychic impressions immediately and consciously. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world. Most of our psychic knowledge remains buried in the subconscious mind. By its nature, the subconscious mind is more in tune with the etheric body (the superconscious mind networked to all other etheric elements in this reality) where a lot of data lays and whithers.

Through meditation and self hypnosis, we can get in touch with the subconscious, but at the price of being unable to record the data. Nostril breathing, being a form of radiesthsia or 'dowsing,' removes that problem. This form of psychic impression is very different from 'dowsing' for ley lines.

Perhaps, you have heard of pendulums and ouija boards which have been surrounded by a cloud of complete and utter mystic nonsense in contacting the spirit world. Nostril breathing IS the most exact form of psychic 'dowsing' in knowing the LIVING WORLD. When a question is asked, the subconscious mind, which knows the answer, will try to get into contact with the conscious mind (i.e. gut feelings, intuition).

The conscious mind, however, is too busy or discursive to listen to the answer and gets lost in the noise. There are nerves which do listen to the subconscious and respond. Under normal circumstances, we do not notice this response because the messages of these nerves, like that of the subconscious, cannot reach the conscious mind without an altered state of mind. These nerves create minute muscular responses and create well defined patterns in the autonomic functions of the body.

Try this experiment. The next time you visit a friend and you do not know if he will be home, place your fingertips beneath your nostrils and breathe normally. If your right nostril is dominant, your friend will be home when you arrive. If your left nostril is dominant, he will not. In consideration of dominant nostrils at the moment of conception, we may have also found our soulmates in when the right nostril is dominant...

The same thing is true of anything involving an element of chance. Yogis say that if your right nostril is dominant, the venture will be successful, but if the left is dominant, it will not. (Does it work on the lottery? Don't know yet - my nose is always all over the place when taking a chance, but is well defined when making a correct business decision.)

What is the purpose of Holding the Breath exercise?

(Warning: Remember to use only your diaphragm muscles when holding your breath.) Holding your breath is a wonderful form of healing and relaxation. This is a simple exercise that involves the super-oxygenation of the bloodstream to kill anaerobic bacteria and viruses. Perform this exercise when you feel ill or to oxygenate the brain cells before meditating or doing healing.

  1. Sit or lie down in comfortable bed or chair making sure that your head, neck, and back are properly supported.
  2. Slowly, and extremely deeply, inhale through the nostrils until you feel the bottoms of the lungs fill up.
  3. Hold your breath and count for a minimum of sixty, seconds. (You may have to gradually build up to that point over time.)
  4. Very slowly exhale for a count of sixty until all of the air is out of the lungs.
  5. Feel your diaphragm compress.
  6. Hold for another sixty seconds then repeat the process at least three more times.
  7. Notes: Never gulp air, talk, blow air out, or move any part of your body, while performing this breathing exercise. Those of you who are able to prolong the breaths may find yourselves thrown out of body. If this happens, re-enter slowly through the crown chakra. (Re-enter using Color, purple, then ground using color, brown.)

(Note: The more relaxed you are, the easier it is for you to hold your breath for an extended period. If you find that you are having trouble relaxing, please use the following technique: This technique was developed by Edmund Jacobson at Harvard in 1908. It is a Western technique, but it mixes well with Eastern methods, and has become staple of meditation and psychotherapy classes.)

  1. Simply sit in a chair, close your eyes, and become aware of the muscles In your feet.
  2. Try to sense the condition that those muscles are in, and will that they should relax. Some people find it helpful to first tense the muscles, to give themselves an idea of what tension feels like, and then relax them.
  3. After you have released the tension in your feet, do the same thing with the muscles in your ankles, then your calves, and so on - until you reach the top of your head.
  4. After you have completed a cycle of relaxation, beginning with your feet and ending with the top of your head, start over again with your feet. (Note: You will find the first few times you try this that by the time you start relaxing the muscles in your head, your foot muscles are starting to grow tense again.)
  5. After the second or third cycle, try to feel waves of relaxation sweeping from the bottoms of your feet to the top of your head, over and over again, and as you feel each wave of relaxation, mentally say the word, 'relax,' exhaling as you do so. (Note: This is also an excellent sleeping aid for those who have insomnia.)

The relaxation exercise may also help you if you have any breathing difficulties that are tension related. Certain kinds of allergies and sinus problems that make pranayama impossible exist only because of tension. If you suffer from these kinds of problems, you will know if they are tension related because the systematic deep relaxation exercise will cause the symptoms to disappear completely.

When this happens, tell yourself that you will be able to maintain this state of relaxation even after you have arisen from your chair and gone about your other affairs. When you tell yourself this, say it with the knowledge and conviction that it is true ("So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours"  [Mark 11:24]. You may not succeed on the first try, but in time you will be able to maintain this relaxed condition permanently. I have managed to cure myself of severe allergies (including cat hair) using this very technique.

After you have practised with the relaxation exercise and you have acquired the feeling of relaxation, you will be able to instantly relax your entire body, merely by the desire to do so. The systematic technique will no longer be necessary. Learning to relax is just like any other manual skill. Once you have learned it, you can do it automatically (Direct control of the parasympathetic nervous system!) Click here for more relaxation exercises directly related to the vision.)

What is a quick, simple way to Re-Energize?

Many people lose energy during the day it is often not possible to relax or take a nap especially if you are at work or driving a vehicle. This exercise is designed to energize you so you can function without fatigue.

You may stand, sit, or lay down. Hold the first three fingers of the right hand - thumb, pointer, and middle finger - together so that the tips form a little triangle. Gently press the tips at the base of your neck in the small indentation where the neck meets the back.

crevice at base of skull

With the fingers thus positioned inhale deeply, and hold for a few seconds. You will feel a slight tingling at the point where the fingers touch the skin, as well as a current of electricity, run through the entire body. Heavy eyes will suddenly become alert. Keep the fingers in place when you slowly exhale. Wait a few seconds then repeat the process. Do this three to five times, then remove the fingers and resume normal breathing. Depending on your internal energy reserves the extra energy boost will last from twenty minutes to a couple of hours. Repeat the exercise as needed, but not before bedtime since this would keep you awake.

What is Yogic Breathing?

For those of you who are not limber this exercise may be difficult, but it is great for energizing the entire cellular structure for a long period of time. This breathing technique originates from the yogic practice of pranayama or yogic breathing.

Wearing comfortable, loose clothing kneel on a mat, carpet, or soft flooring. If possible, perform this exercise outside in the sunshine while on sand or grass:

  1. Put both arms behind you and grasp your elbows with your hands.
  2. As you inhale through the nostrils, bend forward from the waist for a count of seven seconds.
  3. By the count of seven your head should be on the floor (by your knees).
  4. Hold your breath for seven seconds then exhale through the mouth to the count of seven as slowly raise your head continuing to hold your elbows behind your back.
  5. In the starting position, hold your breath, once again, for a count of seven.
  6. Repeat the exercise for seven cycles. Note: Performing this exercise on a daily basis will result in a phenomenal increase of mental and physical energy.

What is an example of Standing Breathing?

Also a form of yogic breathing this exercise is best performed outside, in the sunshine, but can also he done indoors. This is great for the office when you need to stretch and breathe at the same time:

  1. Stand with your feet together and pointing forward.
  2. Place hands at your sides with palms touching your legs.
  3. Face forward keeping your spine straight.
  4. As you slowly inhale through the nostrils slowly raise the arms with palms up until the palms nearly touch over your head.
  5. Then, slowly let the air out through the mouth while slowly lowering your arms in sync and turning the palms downward until they re-touch the legs.
  6. Repeat this cycle twelve to eighteen times.

These breathing techniques are a good prelude to Chi Kung since you are applying discipline and intention to the breath. In combination with the intense visualization of cleansing the energy in your body you are learning to tap into that unused 65 to 70% unused portion of the brains of which most people do not know the purpose. Please spread the word! Practice a different technique every week to find the ones that work best for you. They will add years to your life and productivity to your activities.

For the previous exercises an exerpt was taken from "The Healer's Handbook: A Journey into Hyperspace" by Stewart Swerdlow. This book can be found at HealingMindN Media Shop


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