Breath

Deep abdominal respiration helps to ensure that more fresh air is drawn in, and more stale air is discharged with each breath. This produces a massaging effect on the internal organs which is conducive to better digestive, reproductive, urinary, and endocrine functions. With stronger diaphragm and abdominal muscles, blood circulation in the abdominal cavity is improved.

Inhale and exhale quietly through the nose while keeping the tongue pressed lightly up against the roof of the mouth. As you inhale, "fill" and relax the lower abdomen. As you exhale, compress the muscles gently to "empty" the belly. Don't try to keep your chest from moving, even though you want the breathing to feel as if it is centred in the lower torso. You want your entire lower torso to gently expand and compress. Imagine that you have ball of energy about the size of a cantaloupe co-existing with your organs, tissues, and bones in the lower torso.

Sinking the Qi to the lower tan-tien does not mean overinflating the lungs or swallowing air—you are not trying to become a human blowfish! Use only the process I just described (called Natural Breathing) in which you relax the lower abdomen when inhaling and contract the lower abdomen when exhaling. This should be a gentle and long-term process of relearning how to breath evenly, fully, and deeply. In this way you retrain the diaphragm to rise and fall over a greater range so that the lungs are used more efficiently. This augments the capacity of the lungs, while the improvement in diaphragmic movement also produces a massaging effect on the internal organs; thus, improving the functions of the digestive, reproductive, urinary, and endocrine systems.

It is quite common, as a beginner, to get quite gassy when practising, so don't get embarrassed if you belch or pass wind. Over the months, your digestive system will adjust, and this won't be as evident.

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