Just a few minutes a day of this simple breathing exercise will bring you better health, more energy and longer life!
We all know that the human body can go more than a month without food and several days without water… but how long can we survive without air? Without oxygen, we'd be brain-dead within minutes! Yet most of us take our breathing for granted.
Did you know that the brain uses more than three quarters of the oxygen taken in? Without efficient respiration, the human body becomes oxygen-starved: we become sluggish, unable to concentrate, easily fatigued, and slow to react.
But we can change that by simply improving our respiration. Just five to ten minutes practice of this qigong/chi kung diaphragmatic breathing exercise will do wonders for your mind and body. Here's how:
- Assume a comfortable position, sitting or lying down, or even standing up.
Make sure your back is straight, not ramrod rigid, but straight in a relaxed way: Your shoulders should not be tense but slightly slumped forward, with your chest slightly caved in. Likewise, your chin shouldn't be thrust forward; instead it should be drawn slightly inward, so that your head is aligned with the rest of your spine.
Inhale fully by pulling down the diaphragm muscle that sits just below the rib cage. This will allow your lungs to expand to its fullest capacity.
When you inhale, breathe in slowly and evenly through the nose, visualizing filling your abdomen full of air, as you expand your abdomen outward.
Sometimes it helps to lie down and put a book on your stomach for visual feedback. Or, if you are sitting or standing, place your hand on your abdomen and feel it expand when you breathe in.
Next, pause a moment before exhaling, again slowly and evenly through your nose. As you breathe out, let your abdomen flatten out. This should be natural, not forced.
Pause for another moment before repeating the cycle again.
And that's it — a simple breathing exercise that most children do automatically, and adults should always practice to extend their health and longevity. Diaphragmatic respiration is just one of many qigong (a.k.a. chi kung) breathing techniques that can bring you many health benefits:
- greater mental clarity and alertness;
reduces stress, more relaxation
more energy and vitality, and less fatigue
nourishes, cleanses and detoxifies the body
improves concentration, focus, and memory
facilitates digestion and elimination
better organ function, cardiovascular functions
strengthens immune system
aids in cell repair and regeneration
improves overall health and well-being
promotes anti-aging and longevity
Other breathing techniques can also help with weight reduction, faster reflexes, sleep reduction, pain management, treatments of particular diseases and disorders, such as hypertension, asthma and bronchitis, migraines, heart conditions… and much more.
Feel a headache coming? Just take five minutes to breathe it away! Your headache will begin to diminish in just a few minutes of practicing the 5-step breathing exercise just outlined.
Headaches are usually caused by too much tension. Arteries and capillaries carrying oxygenated blood become constricted and the oxygen-starved brain signals with a headache. When you practice qigong yogic breathing techniques you signal to the brain that it's time to relax and increase circulation, thereby increasing your oxygen intake.
Short on energy? Easily fatigued or sluggish? Now you can increase your work efficiency in just five minutes of qigong, right at your seat of work. Literally, just take a breather, and you'll be well rested and ready to work at your fullest capacity in no time!
If you are new to qigong and not accustomed to deep respiration, you may find that your diaphragm and abdominal muscles may feel sore at first. That's because the muscles are not accustomed to the exercise.
Keep your practice brief, no longer than a few minutes at a time. Then gradually increase until it becomes natural and unconscious.
Try it. This breathing exercise is only one of many literally life-giving breathing techniques practiced in qigong meditation — rich in oxygen, rich in life.