Mind + Body Exercise:
Creating Space in Body, Mind
+ Qi with Deep Breathing

Breathing Exercises for Relaxation in Body, Mind + Qi

Mind and Body Exercises: Lesson 4 of 4

This final lesson in my series four-part series on creating space in the body is all about how you incorporate cyclical, deep breathing to multiply practice and health benefits (review Lesson 1, Lesson 2 or Lesson 3). However, if you haven’t solidified your foundation in the previous practices, you may experience the opposite results in which case you would simply want to revisit and continue developing those techniques before continuing forward.

Cyclical Breathing Exercise

The instructions that follow will take place over a four-beat cycle: activity-rest, activity-rest. This cycle can be applied to various nei gong techniques, such as bend and stretch, open and close and, in this case, in coordination with breathing.

First, get comfortable and relax. From this quiet space, bring your attention to the inhale-exhale cycle of your breathing. After a few moments, take a deep in-breath and towards the end just relax. This will naturally cause the changeover to the out-breath. This completes the first half of one activity-rest cycle.

Practice just this aspect for several breaths to get the hang of it.

Then, on your next out-breath, continue breathing out a little more, going a bit further that you would normally. Don’t strain or push the air out of your lungs, but breathe out as slowly as is comfortable. At the end of the out-breath, again relax and you will naturally start to breathe in again. This completes the second half of one activity-rest cycle.

Practice just this aspect for several breaths to get the hang of it.

Now put both halves together to create one continuous cycle—breathe in, relax, breathe out and relax more. If you engage this cycle correctly, your nerves will begin to let go and your breathing will stabilise. However, if you use too much effort, your breathing will become uneven, possibly erratic, and your body will harden.

Feel your eyes and nerves without losing focus on your inhale-to-exhale or exhale-to-inhale changeovers. Dial and tune the four-beat cycle as you breathe, until you become totally relaxed.

When you find this quiet space, take as full a breath as possible without a sudden inhale or exhale, or evoking any sense of strain in body, mind or qi. The changeovers should become effortless, smooth and slow. The more efficient your practice, the more your system will let go. In 10-20 minutes, you will likely find that you have become very quiet inside and relaxed.

Add Qi Gong Energy Exercise

Once you’ve trained this simple breathing exercise enough to gain a sense of peace and easiness inside, then stand up and slowly transition into doing the most gentle and simple qi gong movement you know. Circling Hands Qi Gong is an ideal exercise (follow along with a guided video demonstration).

Then, follow this training progression:

  1. Let your breathing govern your physical motion, i.e. any movement only lasts for the duration of one comfortable in-out breath (and not the other way around). If you try to tune breathing to your movement, you can strain the breath, which in turn causes the nerves to contract and the body to close down.
  2. Start by practising the instructions on the fifth section of the third article while completely relaxing and letting go of any control of the breath. When you are comfortable and ready, introduce the four-beat breathing cycle. Let it fit together with the physical movement however it makes sense to you—whether you breathe in or out on the open. It doesn’t matter how anybody else does it or what you achieved in any one practice session. What matters is that it feels comfortable and easy for your body in the moment.
  3. Closely watch and feel your eyes, nerves and breathing pattern. Dial and tune your movement to your breathing (and not the other way around). If your breath becomes strained in any way, completely let go of the breath. Revisit the breathing practice (as described above) independently from movement for a few days or weeks. When the technique has become stabilised, once again try this exercise progression.

There is no reason to rush the developmental process. In fact, you will likely encounter internal resistance and derail any chance of achieving positive results by doing so. The learning progression can and should be tailored to your individual needs. So take more time to work on that which you find difficult.

When you’re on the right track, you will notice a deeper sense of relaxation and smoother, more integrated movement. Your breath will remain calm, full and continuous. Your mind will let go and your qi will skyrocket. It creates a reinforcing and sustainable cycle of health benefits, where each loop helps to boost the results achieved in the previous revolution.

Check out more blogs on deep breathing, including guided breathing practices…

One thought on “Mind + Body Exercise:
Creating Space in Body, Mind
+ Qi with Deep Breathing

  1. Pingback: The Results of Correct Breathing and Meditation Can Amaze You

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