TAOIST LONGEVITY BREATHING
The purposes of this practice include 1) calming the mind, body and emotions, 2) increasing your lung capacity and utilization of oxygen, 3) driving the oxygen deeper into the tissues of the body, 4) allowing your breathing rate to be more normal under stressful activity and, 5) increasing both the flexibility and strength of the internal structures of the body.
- Keep your body relaxed and soft, especially your face, neck and torso. This will help keep your nerves and mind relaxed.
- On the inhale expand the belly, sides and back, at first in that order and eventually all at once. Deflate all parts simultaneously. Keep your sternum stationary and unmoving.
- Leave a little room at the top of the inhale and bottom of the exhale, i.e. 70-80% full and empty. Stay well away from any sense of strain.
- Breathe continuously without stopping or holding, even at the top and bottom.
- Slow down and lengthen your breath keeping the inhale and exhale times even.
- Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth as though pronouncing “L”. This completes an internal energy circuit know as the micro cosmic orbit. Breathe through your nose unless it is physically impractical.
1. With your hands find which areas of first the belly, then the sides and back are not moving well. To get them moving there are three hands-on techniques that will calm the nerves and allow for fuller expansion. These are all Very Light, similar to Esalen massage.
a. Flutter or brush your fingertips on the skin over the area.
b. Poke you fingertips into the skin.
c. Rub small coin-size circles in the area.
Whatever method seems best, the pressure should be no greater than you would use on your eyelids. Keep this up for several minutes (5-20). For your back you will need a partner. You can generally expect a 5-15% increase in breathing capacity right away.
2. Give some time to manipulating and relaxing the diaphragm. It attaches to the lower border of the rib cage from front to back and is about the shape of a domed pancake. It is easy to reach the front portion of your diaphragm just up under your rib cage. Between your ribs and hip bones at your midriffs you can rub light circles with your palms. As you exhale press inward with the edges of your hands or fingertips.
3. Once the musculature is relaxed the eventual next step is to relax your internal organs and the fascia network that holds them in place. Try to do this with your mind penetrating the body. It is possible to manipulate the organs but the required skill level is quite high.
4. The purpose of the air pressure going into the abdominal, midriff and low back areas is to squeeze and massage the organs. If you can also expand the middle and upper back while keeping the sternum still you can cause the pressure in the torso to massage the heart muscle as well.
5. Cautions: The torso pressures should not cause any strain at all. You can gradually increase them over time giving the tissue structures plenty of time (months or years) to become more pliable and strong. Properly done you can avoid a stroke, but improperly done you can cause one! Also, avoid expanding the belly any lower than the underwear or pubic hair level as there are fragile physical and energetic structures here. In the back there is not this concern and you can use the breath to expand the sacrum and ilium bones, which can help alleviate problems here.