Progressive Level of Breathing in Tai Ji

Progressive Level of Breathing in Tai Ji

Postby ChiDragon » Sun Jan 03, 2016 10:13 pm

There are four levels of breathing of Tai Ji,
1. Natural breathing(自然呼吸)
2. Abdominal breathing(腹式呼吸)
3. Chest breathing(胸式呼吸)
4. Acoustic Breathing(發聲呼吸)

1. Natural breathing(自然呼吸)is the basic fundamental in breathing to be established for the abdominal breathing in the next level. As a beginner, practicing the basic movements shall not have any intentional breathing to prevent distraction. The reason is that a novice is not familiar with the movements. Unfortunately, there are lots of pauses and hesitation between the movements during the practice. Therefore, the coordination between the movements and the breathing is not feasible. The concentration should be more emphasized on the movements than the breathing. After the novice is familiar the movements from continuous practice diligently, the breath should be naturally and progressively reach down to the abdomen. It was known as in the state of "sink chi to the tan tian(氣沈丹田)" or abdominal breathing. So to speak.

BTW One should not interpret "sink chi to the tan tian(氣沈丹田)" as "lower energy to the tan tian". It is very misleading and confusing the breathing issue. Without the abdominal breathing, nothing works properly and it will not achieve what one tries to accomplish.
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Re: Progressive Level of Breathing in Tai Ji

Postby ChiDragon » Sat Jan 09, 2016 8:16 pm

What is the pattern for natural breathing? Under any circumstance, it is as simple as inhale and exhale without any special intention to do so. Therefore, in the first level of Tai Ji practice, no matter how fast or slow the movements are, the rhythm for breathing is the same. However, that's only happens when there are pauses in the movements. For example, if the practitioner forgot what the next move is and paused, then the breathing will not stop. So, the simple breathing continue. Until the next move was figured out, mostly likely and unconsciously, inhalation will begin with the next move simultaneously, and exhale in the following move. In about three years of practice, the movements became familiarized and moved continuously without hesitation. In addition, the natural breathing became deeper or maybe longer. Of course, that is solely depends on the breathing habit of each individual. The one with deeper breathing will advance quicker to the next level. Finally, if the mentioned breathing pattern was followed in each move, then it was said to be:
1. The movement was coordinated with the breathing and
2. The breathing was coordinated with the movement.

In conclusion, the first level of practice was to establish a foundation for the familiarization of the movements and breathing. The second level will be more emphasized on the intentional breathing. Some was taught to breathe naturally and should never force oneself to do it intentionally. Well, it was only told to a novice who comes in cold and unfamiliar with breathing. If one says practice, it simply implies that one was forcing to do something out of the ordinary. In this case, isn't doing the basic movement was forcing oneself to do something unwillingly? What it does is to form a habit in the body movement, at first, intentionally. Secondly, it is to form a breathing habit for the future level.
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Re: Progressive Level of Breathing in Tai Ji

Postby ChiDragon » Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:56 pm

2. Abdominal breathing(腹式呼吸)

The first level of breathing is to learn to breathe deep down to the abdomen or sink chi(氣,air or breath) to the dan tian. It can be tested how much chi is inside by taken a deep breath and hold it as long as one can. The duration in holding the breath determines the level of achievement from level 1. The longer one can hold the breath which is a good indication of how effective the respiratory system is. In other words, there is a great amount of oxygen was breathed into the lung by one inhalation. However, to pass the breathing test, the practitioner must not has any dizziness or headache. In addition, one must not feel lightheaded or suffocated from holding the breath. It this requirements are met, then, one has accomplished the first level of Tai Ji practice.

The second level of breathing is to perform abdominal breathing on each move. The abdominal breathing requires the practitioner to breathe deeply and slowly. During inhalation, the abdomen should be expanded outward and contracted inward during exhalation.

In general, the abdominal breathing pattern is
1. Inhale when both hands are being raised, and exhale when the hands are being lowered.
2. Inhale when both hands are coming together, and exhale when both hands are moving away from each other.
3. Inhale on the first move, and exhale on the second move.
4. Inhalation begins with the initialization of the first move and stop when the move ends.
5. Exhalation begins with the initialization of the next move and stop when the move ends.

Notes: A pause may be permitted between the moves if the next move has not been initiated.

The purpose of the second level of breathing is to kick in the abdomen breathing method. After the abdominal breathing was done with no problem, it shall become the normal breathing habit in all future Tai Ji practices.
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Re: Progressive Level of Breathing in Tai Ji

Postby ChiDragon » Sat Jan 16, 2016 1:37 am

2. Abdominal breathing(腹式呼吸)..Continue

Someone had asked how to go about issuing an explosive force, FaJin(發勁).If one wish to be able to Fa Jin, then one should not treat the second level of breathing (abdominal breathing) lightly. It is the critical point for one to advance forward to the higher level of Tai Ji. There are some students had practiced Tai Ji for many years but still wondering why there was no sigh of improvement in their physical health and abilities. Regretfully, they have not realize the importance of abdominal breathing by their own intuition from level one.

What does it mean by one's own intuition? While the chi was able to reach down to the Tan Tian during natural breathing, the practitioner should have felt that the physical strength has increased. If the practice was continue to lower the chi to the Tan Tian, then, the jin will be developed in the muscles. Hence, it was considered to be that the second level of breathing has been accomplished.

The muscle movements and the abdominal breathing constitute a biological loop inside the body which is know as cell respiration. It was known that cell respiration which regulates the rate of metabolism of the body. The faster the rate, the more energy was produced and faster in the healing function of the body. The rate is solely depends on the amount of oxygen intake from the breathing. Fortunately, the methods of breathing are able to be regulated only by the practice of Tai Ji or Qigong.
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Re: Progressive Level of Breathing in Tai Ji

Postby ChiDragon » Sat Jan 30, 2016 1:41 am

3. Chest breathing(胸式呼吸)
The chest breathing breathing is the most difficult to do. It is the opposite of abdominal breathing. The abdomen was contracted during inhalation and expanded during exhalation. When the abdomen was contracted, the chest expands outward. Thus that's why it was called chest breathing.

This method was used by martial artists during fighting to protect the organs internally and the muscles externally. This method requires a greater skill of holding the breathing. How it was done is hard to describe in words. It's up to the intuition by the practitioner. Holding the breath for sometime which means a great amount of oxygen must be present inside the body, in order, to sustain the energy level without breathing during that period. That is why the abdominal breathing is very important to begin with. Lowering chi to the Tan Tian is the goal to keep a great amount of oxygen inside the body. It is, also, important for the practitioner knows how to regulate the breath up and down in the trachea. If the regulation of the breath was not done properly like just holding the breath, then, red face and suffocation will occur.

During the reverse breathing, the abdomen should be sucked inward, then hold the breath and push the abdominal outward but not fully expanded. In this case, holding the breath means one does not inhale not exhale but just regulate the breath inside the trachea. Regulating the breath cannot be taught but strictly has to be experienced by the practitioner from the first two breathing methods.

Let me see if I can find a video to show how the reverse breathing was done by a Qigong practitioner!

Here is at 9:00
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6cO0AX87jk
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