I have been in a Qigong workshop all weekend practicing a variety of meditation, breathing and exercising forms, all of which are great for healing, building strength and increasing energy. What we learned is too complicated to present here, so in honor of these wonderful, uplifting practices, here are some simple breathing exercises anyone can do at home. Credit for these exercises goes to www.adrenalfatigue.com.
The first thing you need to learn to do is what’s called Belly Breathing. This is the most basic of the breathing methods we have at our disposal, and therefore is the one you should master before trying out the others. It’s very simple, and requires just a few steps:
- Sit down comfortably, or lay down on a yoga mat, depending on your personal preference.
- Place one of your hands on your stomach, just below your ribcage. Place the second hand over your chest.
- Breathe in deeply through your nostrils, letting your first hand be pushed out by your stomach. You should find that your chest stays stationary.
- Breathe out through your lips, pursing them as if you were about to whistle. Gently guide the hand on your stomach inwards, helping to press out the breath.
- Slowly repeat between 3 and 10 times.
You should begin to feel relaxed as soon as you have repeated the Belly Breathing exercise two or three times, but keep going for as long as you feel you need to.
The 4-7-8 Breathing also requires you to be sitting down or lying comfortably. Here are the steps you need to follow:
- Get into the same position as you did for the Belly Breathing exercise, with one hand on your stomach and one on your chest.
- Breathe in slowly but deeply. Take 4 seconds to breathe in, feeling your stomach move in the process.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- Breathe out as silently as you can manage, taking 8 seconds. Once you reach 8, you should have emptied your lungs of air.
- Repeat as many times as you need, making sure to stick to the 4-7-8 pattern.
While the above three exercises can be completed whenever necessary, the next method is called Morning Breathing and, as the name suggests, should be practiced once you have woken up. It aims to relax your muscles after a good night’s sleep, and will help you to minimize tension for the remainder of the day. Here are the steps to follow:
- Stand up straight and, slightly bending your knees, bend your torso forward from the waist. Your arms should be hanging close to the floor, limply.
- Take a breath in slowly, returning to your original standing position. You should look like an inflatable ghost you may see at Halloween: your head should be the last thing to straighten up.
- Exhale, returning to the position of being bent forward by the end of your exhale. Stand up straight once you have finished, stretching your muscles as required.
Stay tuned! More to come!