This 3 PART series on “How to Practice the Two Wheels of Breathing.” is a summary of various breathing techniques taught by Dr. Sang H. Kim during the MBX-12 Spring Workshop. Read Part 1, Part 3.
There are many breathing methods and techniques. Normally we rely on chest breathing, expanding our chest as we inhale.
MBX practice, however, focuses primarily on Wheel Breathing. There are two types of Wheel Breathing: Forward Wheel Breathing and Reverse Wheel Breathing. The Forward Wheel Breathing includes two sub-types: Belly Breathing and Meridian Breathing.
Forward Wheel Breathing Methods
Forward Wheel Breathing Method, also called pulling wheel method, is a way of breathing to drive the energy toward the lower energy center in the belly by allowing the energy to flow downward in the front of the torso.
Examples are Belly Breathing and Meridian Breathing: during in-breath your belly swells and the energy flows down along the frontal center of your torso, and during out-breath your belly contracts and the energy flows upward along the spinal cord in the back.
Just like the front wheels pull a car forward, Forward Wheel Breathing drives your inner energy down toward the lower energy center.
These two methods are good for increasing your energy levels, helping you feel stronger and more centered.
Both methods focus on driving your energy downward to the Danjun or Dantien, the lower energy center, which is located approximately 2 inches below the naval.
With Belly Breathing, you expand your lower belly for inhalation and contract the abdominal muscles for exhalation.
Here is how belly breathing works (refer the numbers in the Belly Breathing Diagram):
Inhalation 1. Extend your belly and let the lungs expand. 2. Inhale through your nose. Allow your diaphragm to contract downward as low as possible. This takes 3-5 seconds.
Exhalation 3. At full inhalation, let the extended belly return to the original position slowly. 4. Exhale. Let the diaphragm relax, returning to the normal position. This takes 3-10 seconds.
Once you have mastered the Belly Breathing technique, you may advance to the Meridian Breathing technique.
This method requires imaginative thinking as you conceive and redistribute energy along three energy channels: the Conception meridian (in the middle of the frontal torso, 1 in the Meridian Breathing Diagram) and Governing meridian (in the middle of the back of the torso, 3 in the Diagram) and the Belt channel (between the two ilium bones in the pelvis, 2 in the Diagram).
As the belly guides the breath, energy (air) enters the nose and travels down to the belly following the Conception Meridian* (1, in the Diagram).
The energy gathers and swirls in the belly region encircled by the Belt channel (2).
By holding your breath and gently condensing the swirling energy, you can build its strength and push it upward along the Governing Meridian** (3).
Meridian Breathing is a way to distribute energy throughout your body. One cycle of meridian breathing connects your inner energy to the energy of the external world. This connection is important because our body is the medium for the reciprocal communications. In that sense, Meridian Breathing is not a goal but a process for mutual exchange of energy.
Furthermore, it is the transitory point for our conscious awareness of breath to immerse into the subconscious level.
So sustaining your awareness of being present with your breath, in gradual absence of conscious efforts, is vital for your progress.
As your breath progressively becomes silent, your awareness becomes still.
Eventually a feeling of infinity, that feels like being alone in the midst of empty space yet sitting grounded, fills your heart.
*Conception Meridian begins from the perineum and arises along the front of the torso, ending on the chin. The Conception Meridian connects to all of the Yin meridians (meridians on the inside of the body).
**Governing Meridian runs along the mid-line of the back, ascending to the head and descending to the face. The Governing Meridian connects to all of the Yang meridians (meridians on the outside and back of the body).
Inner Strength Fosters Inner Harmony
Deep breathing increases metabolism and energy efficiency. It simply means that you have more energy. By providing abundant oxygen to the cells, the body readily turns what we eat into nutrients.
Deep breathing fosters efficiency in energy conversion. It also reduces the amount of work the body has to do compared to conditions in the body with less sufficient oxygen.
Like having a good fire with much less smoke, the body temperature reaches optimal ranges, enabling more oxygen to permeate the cells and accelerating circulation, thus slows heart rate and lowers blood pressure.
Less work, more energy!
Now in turn the body does her good work, bringing back the harmonious relationships among all the participants in the work of sustaining your life. Harmony can be restored.
Exercise: MBX 9 Condensing
1. From natural stance, place your heels outward and lower your posture. Inhaling slowly and deeply, raise your hands beside your shoulders with your palms sideways. Keep your elbows bent and fingertips upward. While inhaling, slowly and firmly press the air downward along the front of the torso toward the lower belly. Hold your breath for 2-3 seconds, and imagine that you are collecting the energy at the bottom of the pelvic floor.
2-3. Exhaling, slowly push your palms out to the sides. Push the belly slowly in and release the diaphragm upward. Imagine that the energy collected at the bottom of the pelvic floor rises upward through the round hole of the sacrum, the triangular bone at the base of the spine. The energy continues to rise along the spinal cord upward to the upper back, the rear side of the middle energy center. Hold this posture (3) for 2-3 seconds.
3-4. Exhaling further, lower your hands to the front of the belly (4), and press your palms together to release the remaining air from the lower belly. At the same time, allow the energy from the upper back to continue to rise through the cerebellum, the top of the head, and finally to the third eye, the imaginary sacred place between the two eyes. Inhaling, return to natural stance.
Go to PART 3.
Excerpted from books: Mindful Movement: Mastering Your Hidden Energy, Power Breathing: Breathe Your Way to Inner Power, Stress Reduction, Performance Enhancement, Optimum Health & Fitness
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