Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How to Breathe in Tai Chi

There is no question that breathing is a central element of Tai Chi. Yet, the best breathing techniques remain open to debate. Different people use different breathing techniques.

Some teachers think that our Dan Tian/Red Field (acupuncture point just below the navel) should be the focal point of our breathing techniques because our Dan Tian is the place we store our energy. It is also our physical center of balance and gravity. However, other teachers think that we need to practice abdominal breathing, which uses our powerful stomach muscles to control our breathing for maximum effect.

After many years of study, I can draw two conclusions regarding the mixed views on breathing techniques. If you have read my book, Seeing beyond the Tai Chi Footprint, you may already be familiar with them.

My first conclusion is: Breathe naturally! Don’t pay attention to your breathing at all. Concentrate on your form and the coordination of your movements. All your breathing will occur naturally.

My second conclusion is: Use movements to adjust your breathing. These adjustments must be made very accurately. Any movements going out such as "Peng" will correspond with a breath out. Any movements coming in such as "Lu" will correspond with a breath in. For any open movements, such as "White Crane Spread its Wings", breathe out; for any closed movements, such as "Playing Pipa", breathe in. For any up movements, such as "Golden Roster Stand with one Leg", breathe in; for any down movements, such as "Snake Creeps Down", breathe out.

The length of all the breaths are related to the movements in these cases. Longer movements will need longer breaths. Try to even out your movements as much as possible, so your breaths will be even, deep, long and slow.

Copyright by Huan's Tai Chi 2011

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