Breathing exercises form an important part of Chinese Martial arts. These breathing practices allow practitioners to train their minds and eventually reach their full potentials as fighters. A central part of martial art meditation, these breathing techniques help trainees reach deeper levels of physical and psychological health. This article describes the methods of breathing used to increase focus and awareness.
1. Natural Breathing
The natural breathing technique contracts the diaphragm during inhaling and expands it during exhaling. Each breath in the natural breathing approach should be slow and deep so that it’s easy to focus on them. If practiced mindfully, normal breathing can lead to increased focus, better relaxation, along with faster elimination of toxins.
2. Reverse Breathing
Reverse breathing, also popular as Taoist breathing, reverses the natural movements of the abdomen. It is practiced by inhaling deeply in such a way that abdomen contracts and then relaxes during exhalation. This type of breathing technique helps to build qi or energy more efficiently. It energizes the muscles of a martial art student to a great extent and protects his internal organs from received attacks. Although Taoist breathing offers several benefits, it shouldn’t be practiced without the supervision of a trained martial art teacher. Also, students with high blood pressure should refrain from practicing reverse breathing.
3. Embryonic Breathing
Embryonic breathing is a breathing method that enables practitioners to store their qi in the center of their abdomen. It is often referred to as ‘stopping the breath’. Indeed, it is important to understand the difference between stopping the breath and holding the breath. Embryonic breathing is a different concept from the latter where breathing feels like an effortless process. This means that a martial art trainee practicing embryonic breathing won’t be aware that he is actually breathing.
Embryonic breathing is of two types: yin embryonic breathing and yang embryonic breathing. While the former involves longer inhalation and short exhalation, the latter is the reverse. Also, yin embryonic breathing is ideal in summer months when the need for qi is not that high. On the other hand, yang embryonic breathing is suitable for fall and winter. Indeed, students who want to gain health and calmness should learn these types of breathing techniques.
4. Dantian Breathing
In Chinese martial arts, dantian refers to a valuable energy center where anything valuable can be cultivated. The dantian involved in dantian breathing is a major energy center located a bit below and behind the navel. In this breathing, a trainee concentrates on the dantian while his lower back and belly expands during inhalation and contracts during exhalation.
One major goal of Dantian breathing is to activate the acupuncture point located on the lower back as well as to stimulate the kidneys. Once the kidneys are stimulated, the energy level of the body will automatically improve.
Breathing Techniques: The Benefits
When executed properly, breathing techniques can lead to faster metabolism in practitioners. As well, they can to accumulate more energy in the center and use it when required. At the same time, these breathing techniques can help their minds calm down and be more focused.