breathing while practicing

breathing while practicing

Postby jack » Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:38 pm

Generally in tai chi practice we fill our stomach. But we should fill our lungs or not?
jack
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:06 am

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby Audi » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:33 am

What do mean by "fill our stomach." Are you talking about breathing?
Audi
 
Posts: 1149
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby jack » Sat Feb 01, 2014 7:03 pm

yes my point is on breathing
jack
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:06 am

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby Audi » Sun Feb 02, 2014 1:23 pm

Hi Jack,

We teach that the breathing should be natural and not forced into any particular rhythm while doing form in order to allow the Qi to sink to the Dantian. Within that framework, you want the breathing to be deep and long, as if coming from deep in your abdomen/belly. The word "stomach" can mean the same thing as "abdomen" or "belly," especially when talking about the outside of the body; however, when talking about the inside, the word "stomach" tends to refer only to the cavity that is primarily responsible for digesting food.

From a scientific viewpoint, the diaphragm can contract to suck air into the lungs. There are multiple ways to do this, but Wikipedia describes the two extremes well according to what I understand:

Cavity expansion happens in two extremes, along with intermediary forms. When the lower ribs are stabilized and the central tendon of the diaphragm is mobile, a contraction brings the insertion (central tendon) towards the origins and pushes the lower cavity towards the pelvis, allowing the thoracic cavity to expand downward. This is often called belly breathing. When the central tendon is stabilized and the lower ribs are mobile, a contraction lifts the origins (ribs) up towards the insertion (central tendon) which works in conjunction with other muscles to allow the ribs to slide and the thoracic cavity to expand laterally and upwards.


In other words, you can use the diaphragm to produce a feeling of sinking in the belly or a feeling of expansion in the chest to the sides. We want to use the first method, which many call belly breathing. In reality, the belly does little, but you will see movement and have a cascade of feeling there if you use the correct method.

From our viewpoint of Tai Chi theory, this type of belly breathing allows the Qi to sink to the Dantian to store the maximum amount of internal energy, like water resting at the bottom of a bucket. If the Qi sinks only partially, it is likely to be insufficient for your needs of the moment. When the internal is deficient, it will draw on the external and make it deficient. It is like water sloshing around in the bucket that requires special movement or a deeper bucket to prevent it from spilling.

One of our Ten Essential Principles is that internal and external should unite. That means that the body structure has to support the type of the belly breathing described above. For instance, you must "enfold the chest" and "loosen and open up the lumbar region" (i.e., "relax the waist"); otherwise the shape of the abdomen will not allow the Qi to sink properly.

Last week I had my push hands students experiment with this link so that they could feel it in their own bodies and how it affected their energy. You may want to try it yourself. Realize that abdominal muscles and the tissues around the lumbar spine are antagonistic with respect to controlling the pelvis. Try lifting the butt up and pointing the tailbone to the rear by forcefully contracting the tissues in the lumbar region. Then try to breathe out audibly, forcefully, and deeply. You will find the breathing labored, as if the lumbar region is squeezing the Qi out from the rear. Now try forcefully contracting the abdominal muscle to tilt the top of the pelvis backward and point the tailbone forward. Then try the breathing again. It will still be difficult, but this time because the Qi is squeezed out from the front. Now try opening up the lumbar region by imagining you are about to sit down and are letting your butt reach for the chair as you relax your abdominal muscles and are about to completely relax your legs. The tailbone will be "centered." If you try the breathing now, you should find that the sound comes from deep in your belly and is unconstricted.

I hope this is clear and is helpful.

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
Posts: 1149
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby jack » Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:16 pm

thank you very much. Can u suggest links to some videos that can teach the breathing? I have searched to much on net but couldn't found satisfactory results. There are enough videos that can teach all the forms but video on breathing is not available.
jack
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:06 am

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby Audi » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:46 pm

Hi Jack,

What I was trying to describe is not so much a training method that has to be learned, but rather a way of testing one's ability to follow certain principles and understand physically how they interact. I don't know o any online videos.

Some teachers emphasize specific breathing patterns or techniques. My understanding is that we do not teach in this way, but instead want natural breathing. This means that you should not have to learn how to do it, but might have to learn exactly what it is. In our view, "sinking Qi to the Dantian" is like letting mud settle to the bottom of a pond. It is something you can obstruct through your activity or bad posture, but it is not something you can force. In this case, less is more.

In my view, as I tried to describe in my previous post, natural breathing varies between two extremes. To experience one extreme, stand up with your hands on your ribs and inhale deeply so that your lower ribs push against your hands. This is "chest breathing" and will tend to make your Qi rise to the chest. To experience the other type of breathing, keep your hands on your lower ribs, but inhale deeply without allowing them to move. This will be "belly breathing." The air does not leave your lungs and your diaphragm will contract only slightly; however, you will feel as if the air or Qi is filling your belly and maybe even be pushing out your lower back. We want more of this type of breathing, but not to the point that you feel forced. Most people will probably mix the two methods to some degree.

Probably the best way to practice what I am trying do describe is through standing meditation (i.e., Zhan Zhuang), assuming you know the correct posture.

Take care,
Audi
Audi
 
Posts: 1149
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby jack » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:05 pm

many many thanks.
jack
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:06 am

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby ChiDragon » Tue Dec 01, 2015 7:28 pm

jack wrote:Generally in tai chi practice we fill our stomach. But we should fill our lungs or not?


This is a very important question. I think the ancient Taoists had the same confusion with the stomach and lung. If we follow the history of the term 氣沈丹田(sink chi to the dan tian), then we will understand what the term actually means. In the ancient time, the Taoists had found the Ultimate Method of Breathing (UMB). That is when the abdomen was fully expanded during a slow deep breathing. Thus under this breathing condition, the Taoist described as 氣沈丹田(sink chi to the dan tian).

The Taoist called the abdomen as dan tian and the chi was referred as the breath. To a Taoist, the goal of the UMB is to have the abdomen fully expanded during deep breathing.

FYI The Taoists did not have the modern knowledge about the human body. Once, they were mistakenly thought that the breath went into the abdomen instead of the lung. It is because the expansion of the abdomen which is the only noticeable thing at the time. They wanted to describe the UMB condition by stating that 氣沈丹田(sink chi to the dan tian).

To answer the OP.....
In actuality, the lung was filled with air instead of the stomach. Under this condition, the abdomen is fully expanded when the lung is filled with air.
A deep discussion requires explicit details for a good comprehension of a complex subject.
ChiDragon
 
Posts: 146
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:00 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby ChiDragon » Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:51 pm

Do we breathe while practicing Tai Ji. Of course, we breathe even not practicing. However, breathing is very unique in Tai Ji. If one thinks that breathing is like ordinary breathing, then, one is not practice Tai Ji completely. Most teachers told the students to breathe naturally is only true for beginners. As an ordinary person, one might have problem in breathing. There three different conditions in breathing. One might be able to breathe down to the throat, chest or abdomen. One can only breathe down to the throat is having many chronic health problems due to hypoxia or lack of oxygen. Those who can have the breath go down to the chest is a healthy person, because there is sufficient oxygen provided for the body to function. The one who can breathe down to the abdomen is more than healthy. Thus this person must be a Tai Ji or Qigong practitioner.

Why there are so many people ask questions about breathing in Tai Ji? Why isn't there an explicit answer for everyone? Well, IMMHO, there are several reasons as follows:
1. The students in the class might be in the three levels of breathing.
2. If the students were told how to breathe during practice, then, they will spend too much time thinking about breathing instead concentrating on the basic movements.
3. If some of the students are having a breathing problem and told to breathe slow and deeply, they might be felling light-headed, dizziness or suffocated.

For best result, the teacher will ask the students to breathe gently as they normally do. At the beginning, the students should be asked to breathe down to a point where they normally do as a baseline. As the continuous practice was performed diligently on a daily basis, the breath will go down deeper and deeper. Until the breath goes down to the abdomen, it was said to be that the chi has sunken down to the dan tian. It was considered to be the highest realm of the UMB which is one tried to be accomplished.


Ref:
UMB: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4162
A deep discussion requires explicit details for a good comprehension of a complex subject.
ChiDragon
 
Posts: 146
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:00 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby ChiDragon » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:16 pm

In Tai Ji practice, an experienced practitioner would coordinate the movement with the breathing; and the breathing coordinate with the movement(see note). May I recommend that all Tai Ji practitioners, in the near future, should try to coordinate the movements with the breathing and vice versa. In few months, one might feel the difference in the energy level has changed tremendously.

Note: Breathing means abdominal breathing or able to sink chi to the dan tian.
A deep discussion requires explicit details for a good comprehension of a complex subject.
ChiDragon
 
Posts: 146
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:00 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby Bob Ashmore » Fri Dec 11, 2015 5:41 pm

Chidragon,
As I am ever curious about things, your statement that "all Tai Ji practitioners, in the near future, should try to coordinate the movements with the breathing and vice versa" intrigues me.
Since I have seen this advice previously, and by many others, but have yet to find a good explanation as to why this would be necessary much less advisable...
I will simply ask you this.
Why?
Please understand that I am not denigrating your theory or being facetious about the question.
I am actually curious about your answer.
For some background information before you reply, I have done this very thing quit a few times in the past yet have never found a desirable result from doing so.
Sure, there can be a slight change in certain energies or techniques if I breath out sharply or softly, or in using either fashion, if I do so during single person practice.
However this has never transferred over to the times I have attempted this during free style sparring with an opponent.
In fact, dividing my intention to think "OK, now you're going to strike him. Breath out now!", or the reverse, has gotten me hit, offset, even thrown clean across a room once, much more often then it has ever had an efficacious affect against my opponent.
Having experimented with this, quite a bit actually, and found it to be quite lacking in any kind of real world application, I have given up on any idea of using breath coordination for sparring.
Don't get me wrong, I use the breathing techniques of "heng" and "ha" throughout my training, forms, pushing hands, weapons, sparring. I never do otherwise.
However, any attempt I make to "coordinate" that with a certain movement, or during a certain technique, becomes almost immediately detrimental to doing them.
If I do them naturally, as my body finds it necessary, without any attempt on my part to "coordinate" them together, then the affect on my practice becomes quite profound.
Perhaps I am missing the "technique" to this coordination?
If so, then an explanation of that would be quite beneficial for me, and hopefully others, and I would greatly appreciate having one.

Thanks for your time.

Bob
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 650
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby ChiDragon » Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:47 pm

Bob Ashmore wrote:Chidragon,
As I am ever curious about things, your statement that "all Tai Ji practitioners, in the near future, should try to coordinate the movements with the breathing and vice versa" intrigues me.
Since I have seen this advice previously, and by many others, but have yet to find a good explanation as to why this would be necessary much less advisable...
I will simply ask you this.
Why?
Please understand that I am not denigrating your theory or being facetious about the question.
I am actually curious about your answer.

No problem and I'm glad I have brought this to your attention. Based on your understanding, it seems to me, obviously, you are not belonging the "Since I have seen this advice previously, and by many others" group.


For some background information before you reply, I have done this very thing quit a few times in the past yet have never found a desirable result from doing so.

It is not a matter of "I have done this very thing quit a few times". In all my posts, I had emphasized to do the abdominal breathing at the times rather than just sometimes. Perhaps, I have not done a good job in my explanation.


Sure, there can be a slight change in certain energies or techniques if I breath out sharply or softly, or in using either fashion, if I do so during single person practice.
However this has never transferred over to the times I have attempted this during free style sparring with an opponent.
In fact, dividing my intention to think "OK, now you're going to strike him. Breath out now!", or the reverse, has gotten me hit, offset, even thrown clean across a room once, much more often then it has ever had an efficacious affect against my opponent.

I see the problem was here "dividing my intention to think "OK, now you're going to strike him. Breath out now!" The intention to think to breathe will cause the action a few seconds delay. Breathing should be done simultaneously during the initiation of the strike without any thinking. If one practice the Tai Chi movements, inhale when the hands rise and exhale when lower, then it will lead the breath down deep to the abdomen. So to speak. This deep breathing method should become a normal breathing habit. In other words, one should breathe deeply all the time, not just during sparring. This will get one into the habit, as soon one moves, the breathing kicks in without any thinking required.

Having experimented with this, quite a bit actually, and found it to be quite lacking in any kind of real world application, I have given up on any idea of using breath coordination for sparring.
Don't get me wrong, I use the breathing techniques of "heng" and "ha" throughout my training, forms, pushing hands, weapons, sparring. I never do otherwise.
However, any attempt I make to "coordinate" that with a certain movement, or during a certain technique, becomes almost immediately detrimental to doing them.
If I do them naturally, as my body finds it necessary, without any attempt on my part to "coordinate" them together, then the affect on my practice becomes quite profound.
Perhaps I am missing the "technique" to this coordination?
If so, then an explanation of that would be quite beneficial for me, and hopefully others, and I would greatly appreciate having one.

Now, it's time for me to ask a question. When you say normal breathing, how deep is your breathing, to your throat, chest or abdomen? Please keep in mind, the depth of the breath determines the level of energy in the body. The coordination is only helping to bring out the effectiveness in the exertion of the body strength to its ultimate. However, If one exhale before a strike is the worse case in sparring.

Thanks for your time.

You are most welcome!

How does the breathing is effecting the body muscles can be explained in a scientific way? Indeed, I had done so in many of my recent posts.
A deep discussion requires explicit details for a good comprehension of a complex subject.
ChiDragon
 
Posts: 146
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:00 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby ChiDragon » Sat Dec 12, 2015 9:19 am

Bob Ashmore wrote:Chidragon,
Since I have seen this advice previously, and by many others, but have yet to find a good explanation as to why this would be necessary much less advisable...
I will simply ask you this.
Why?

I am actually curious about your answer.
1. For some background information before you reply, I have done this very thing quit a few times in the past yet have never found a desirable result from doing so.

2. Sure, there can be a slight change in certain energies or techniques if I breath out sharply or softly, or in using either fashion, if I do so during single person practice.

3. However this has never transferred over to the times I have attempted this during free style sparring with an opponent.
In fact, dividing my intention to think "OK, now you're going to strike him. Breath out now!", or the reverse, has gotten me hit, offset, even thrown clean across a room once, much more often then it has ever had an efficacious affect against my opponent.

4. Having experimented with this, quite a bit actually, and found it to be quite lacking in any kind of real world application, I have given up on any idea of using breath coordination for sparring.

5. However, any attempt I make to "coordinate" that with a certain movement, or during a certain technique, becomes almost immediately detrimental to doing them.

6. If I do them naturally, as my body finds it necessary, without any attempt on my part to "coordinate" them together, then the affect on my practice becomes quite profound.

7. Perhaps I am missing the "technique" to this coordination?
If so, then an explanation of that would be quite beneficial for me, and hopefully others, and I would greatly appreciate having one.

bob


Hi, Bob

Please let me elaborate this a little further. The OP is breathing while practicing. What does practicing mean here? To me, it means practicing the basic forms. Whatever the form maybe, the purpose is to go through the movement to improve the breathing habit. The habit is to breathe as deep as one possibly can. The ideal condition is deep down to the abdomen.

Let's say one is doing the "spreading the horse's mane(野馬分鬃)":
A. While the left hand start to raise diagonally to the left, inhalation should kick in instantaneously. The breathing should be slow and deep. The breath should reach down to the abdomen at the same time when the left hand stops.

B. While the left hand start lowering and the right start to rise, again, slowly exhalation should begin instantaneously. Exhalation should stop when the right hand have reached it peak.

C. The cycle repeats from step one again.

Throughout the performance of the basic form, inhale on the first move, exhale in the second move. Then inhale-exhale.......and so on. So, the movement-breathing pattern must be done on every practice. Thus this is the only way to practice Tai Ji, in order, to have the health benefit for the body. The purpose for during it is to prepare one to the next level of practice like fajin, fast tai ji, sparring or weapons.

If the movements in the basics form were not done, properly, in coordination with the breathing, then one may have difficulty in making progress to the next level of practice.

In items 1 thru 5, they are a good indication like what you said in Items 6 and 7. The reason for Items 1 thru 5 indicates that the breathing coordination was excluded in the practice of the basic form. Therefore, perhaps you are missing the "technique" to this coordination.

No offence for speaking by the book. I hope.

Happy practice.
A deep discussion requires explicit details for a good comprehension of a complex subject.
ChiDragon
 
Posts: 146
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:00 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby Bob Ashmore » Sat Dec 12, 2015 5:24 pm

Chidragon,
Absolutely no offence for your "speaking by the book". You have presented a coherent and quite "by the book", at least from some books, explanation.
I hope you will feel the same way about my speaking from personal experience regarding this subject in response to that.

I know quite well that thinking "Breathe out now" when attempting to strike an opponent, or do anything else to\with them, removes your intention from the strike and focuses it on your breathing, both to the detriment of the strike as well as to your personal safety overall.
I was, in fact, on a fishing expedition to see if you knew this as well. You seem to be well aware of this, so I will move on.

From my personal experience my opinion, gained in both practice and studying theory, regarding the best practice for breathing is that it is simply best for me to leave it alone and let my body breathe as it feels the need to do so, regardless of any action being taken on my part.
In fact I have found that it's best for me not to think about very much at all during the practice of TCC, instead focusing my intention during training forms on only one aspect at a time, and during the execution of Tai Chi Chuan I think of nothing.
Where I do focus on breathing, as well as energy, is during Chi Kung (Qigong). And only during Chi Kung. That is where I find focusing on breathing to be both effective and illuminating for overall energy gathering and expression.
What I learn during my practice of Chi Kung carries over quite effectively to my practice and execution of Tai Chi Chuan, allowing me to not carry that mental baggage into my Tai Chi Chuan.
As for breathing in any kind of pattern...
During Tai Chi Chuan practice/execution I have found, over and over again, that mentally forcing my body to adhere to, as you state, "inhale on the first move, exhale in the second move", is in reality quite counterproductive. There are many reasons, however the primary reason is that doing so limits my ability to all my energy to "go with the flow".
Energy, at least for me personally, goes where it is needed, when it is needed. I find breath and energy to be intrinsically linked. Because of that if I try to regulate one, I find that I am regulating the other.
Perhaps that is not true for everyone, and I would not even dream of speaking for everyone (I shudder at the thought), but for me regulating the flow of energy puts limits on my ability to let it flow (go, move, express, perhaps all of these and more) to where it is needed, when it is needed.
Since my brain cannot possibly know where energy will be needed, or how much, or what kind, in time for me to move it there intentionally I let my body do that on its own.
The less I intentionally interfere with that process, the better it works for me.
So why would I do so?
For me the answer is clear: don't.
This is how I have been taught, this is how I teach.
Is it "right"? It is for me.
Will this method work for everyone? Absolutely not.
All I know is that it works for me, so that is how I do it. That is also how I have to teach it because it is the only way I know to make it work.
Is what you are saying "wrong". Absolutely not. It is what you do and it works for you.
Tai Chi Chuan is a very personal experience. Everyone does it differently, everyone teaches it differently.
It has to work for you and you alone or there is simply no point in doing it.
Why else do you suppose there are so many flavors of Tai Chi Chuan out there to sample from?

Please understand, I am not going for a "I am right and you are wrong! So there!" with this back and forth.
I have met many TCC players who have learned breathing as you are expressing here and who are extremely gifted artists.
Many of them have handed me my rear end during pushing hands and sparring using their methods. I have done the same in return, pretty much just as often, using mine.
So for me to say with absolute authority "My way is the only way this can or should be done" would be laughable, even to me.
What I am saying is that there are as many methods in this art, for everything, as there are players in the game.
What is important is to learn what works best for you and then work on it until you have made it a part of you. Take it to the point where it happens over and over again, consistently and clearly, without your having to even think about it.
Only then will it be truly effective.
To that end I have worked on both regulating my breathing with my movements and not doing so at all.
For me, not doing so at all clearly works best.
Others have had a different experience.
What I am trying to express in my clumsy way (I do tend to ramble on, I know) is that speaking in absolutes about training methods is usually not a good idea.
There will always be someone with a different point of view who will jump in and say, "Wait just a minute here..."
And neither party is going to be right, or wrong.
They're just looking at it from another point of view and have achieved different results than you have.
Since we're all different, this should not surprise anyone.
I find it best to only say what works best for me and not try to lay down any kind of regiment for others to follow (yes, this is a relatively recent development on my part as you will know if you have read some of my past diatribes. Some of us learn more slowly than others, I learn at a positively glacial pace).

At the Wu's TCC Academy I studied in there was a saying that was used whenever this type of discussion came up (and that I wish I had listened to sooner). The exact wording varied quite a bit but overall it went something like this; "There are at least five ways to reach Tai Chi Chuan*. They will all take you to the same place but each uses a different path. Whatever path you choose it is best to stay on it but you will frequently find yourself reaching what looks like a dead end. In reality these are side trips that you have taken on your own account instead of following the way that was laid out for you. If you find yourself in such a place simply ask your teacher to help you find the real path and, most importantly, then listen to him. You will find your way again and then you can move on. Until you reach the next dead end..."
* I believe "five ways" referred to the five major family styles of Tai Chi Chuan, again this is a personal belief
While there were overall methods that were taught regularly to all students there were also personal variations on those methods that would be taught to each person when the general ones didn't work for them. Each time I found myself at a "dead end" using the schools general method one or more of my teachers would have me try something different.
Sometimes it was a subtle change in the method, other times it was a radical departure from the norm.
We would always, eventually, find a way to move me forward on the path though.
Once I became a teacher it was drilled into me that teaching the general method would keep most students on the path but that from time to time everyone was going to reach a dead end. When they did it was up to me to help them find the path again.
That was when I had to get as creative as my teachers had for me in the past.
That is when I also found out afterwards that I learned the most myself, to be honest.
One of the things I learned was that breathing is an individual thing for everyone that I have ever taught.
The "general rule" in both paths that I teach (Wu Chien Chuan and Yang Cheng Fu styles) is to most definitely not tie breathing in with movement. To allow each person to find their own method that works best for them and then not to interfere with that.
Unless they don't find their own method, then it was up to me to help them find it.
To do so I have always relied on Chi Kung rather than on tying movement to breathing during TCC practice.
It has worked for me as well as my students, every time.

Again, this is all simply my own personal point of view found after a number of decades working on this kind of thing.
Other will disagree, some vehemently, and no one will be "wrong".
And that is the nature of this art.

Bob
Bob Ashmore
 
Posts: 650
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Re: breathing while practicing

Postby ChiDragon » Sat Dec 12, 2015 7:19 pm

Hi, Bob
Your point is well taken. Thanks. :)

I think you are right. It is not a matter of right or wrong. Rather, it is the satisfaction for those who is considered to be the most effective way in training. Of course, as you said, the results may vary.
A deep discussion requires explicit details for a good comprehension of a complex subject.
ChiDragon
 
Posts: 146
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:00 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA


Return to Miscellaneous

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest