Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Breathing Naturally

[Path to Mastery 4/20/10 – Wk32 D2 (Str 9.12.09)(Ph2 11.15.09)]

Continuing our Tai-Chi Journey:

There are breathing concepts, breathing techniques and breathing exercises.  But before any of that, you have to just let your breath be and observe it.

When I first joined my teacher Gabriel my mind was filled with the idea of different breathing techniques that would make my Kung-Fu (Martial Cultivation) more powerful.  I was excited to learn the secrets of breathing.  With anticipation I asked, so while doing the form, how do I breathe.  He said, “Just breathe.”  I was in semi shock.  I said, “I thought you were supposed to exhale while you extend and inhale while you retract.  Am I not supposed to do some kind of breathing.”  He replied eloquently, “No.”.  He had a talent for anticlimactic answers. 

Later, as I practiced it became clear to me that the form teaches your body to breathe.  As you do the form, your breathing naturally changes to about 5~6 breaths per minute as your body calms and relaxes.  Also, if you are relaxed enough, you notice how your breathing naturally starts correlating to the moves.  I realized much later all the breathing methods taught are just a summary of what happens naturally when you practice the form over time with awareness on your breath.

There are breathing exercises and techniques taught outside the form, but it is not taught while doing the form until later.  This is because trying to coordinate your breath and movement consciously is unnatural and often creates a disharmony between the breath and your movements.  The breathing exercises allow you to practice the different aspects of breathing so you can learn the distinctions of what all can be done with breathing and until your control gets better and it all starts coming together.  Once your breathing is natural, and your control of your breath is natural, you can start incorporating breathing methods to enhance the explosive power of your form.

However, in the beginning the only thing you need is awareness to notice the unconscious tension in your body as you go through the movements of the form and let go of them.  You may have experienced holding your hand in a tight fist unconsciously and only letting go of it after noticing it. It is very much the same concept.  You cannot let go of that which you don’t know you are holding on. 
See how you want to breathe naturally.  How is your throat, your shoulders, your chest, your rib cage while doing the form?  Are they all moving with the breath?  Are they soft and relaxed?  How does it want to breathe?  Now extend this awareness not just during the form, but while typing on your computer, while sowing, while doing your dishes or whatever else it is your doing.  There are not too many things I know that you can do without breathing.    

History of Tai-Chi Journey up to this point:
Before the blog opened to the public, we covered the single person part of the system.
1. Chi-Gong (Taoist Longevity, White Crane Chi-Gong); 2. Standing Meditation
3. Stepping Mediation; 4. 7 Basics; 5. Basic Form; 6. 30 Form; 7. 108 Form
8. 4 Type Pushing Hands

Interactive training after we went public with the blog. 
1. 8 Type Pushing Hands (Covered from 2/2 ~ 2/11); 2. San-Shou (Covered from 2/12 ~ 2/15)
3. Ba-Gua.(Covering from 2/16 ~ 2/19); 4. Weapons (Covered on 2/23)
5. Healing System (Covered on 2/24)

Non-Structured System:
1.Introduction (Covered 2/25); 2. Free moving – conditioning (Covered 2/26); 3.Free hand pushing hand (Covered 3/1); 4.Free hand (2 person drills and multiple person drills) (Covered 3/2); 5.Free hand weapon (2 person drills and multiple person drills) (Covered 3/3)

Detailed Instructions:
1.Principles (Covered 3/4)
2.Principle of Principles (Covered 3/5)
3.Principles of Upper Body #1~5 (Covered 3/8 – 3/15)
4.Principles Governing Lower Body #1~5 (Covered 3/16 – 3/22)
5. Principle Governing the Whole Body: (Covered 3/23)
6. Principles Governing Movement #1~5 (Covered 3/24 – 3/31)
7. Principles Governing Relaxation – General Concept (Covered 4/1 – 4/14)
8. Principles Governing Breathing
    1. Awareness of Breath (Covered 4/19)
    2. Breathe Naturally (Covered 4/20)
    3. No Sound Breath
    4. Crow Bridge
    5. Dan-Tien Breathing
    6. Directed Breathing
    7. Small Heavenly Circle
    8. Great Heavenly Circle
    9. Reverse Breathing
    10. Whole Body Breathing


  1. So which came first Tai Chi or Qi Gong? It doesn't matter because work on the breath. I am very much anticipating my continues training of the breath.

  2. Greetings. I have been practicing Tai Chi for 11 years now. I followed the Tai Chi Ser Pak Se, Tai Chi Master Cheng (35 steps), and also Tai Chi Kung Fu San. My Sifu is Mr Hoon. He is almost 70 years old, but fit as a fiddle. Recently we did a video of all our moves. Perhaps you would like to view it. My email is: z_allblacks@hotmail.com
    My name is Norliza. My blog is: lizloteng.blogspot.com
    Thank you.