Relax Your Body + Focus Your Mind
You’re probably already aware that almost every stress reduction system in the modern age includes some form of breathing exercises. However, you may not know that breathing methods have actually been used by nearly all documented spiritual traditions since the dawn of time. Breathing can be so helpful for calming down during stressful events and gaining access to our inner world.
The breathing method I teach has been practised for several millennia in ancient China and includes whole-body and diaphragm breathing techniques to literially and systematically make the body conscious. What makes the Tao breathing methodology so unique is that it is modeled after the breathing pattern of a baby—the most perfect of human beings. If you watch a baby, you will observe their whole body expanding/growing and shrinking/condensing with each corresponding in- and out-breath.
Deep Breathing to Engage the Diaphragm
A common myth is that the lungs are the driving force for oxygen coming into the body. Actually, a muscle known as the diaphragm is the driving force for a full breath. Sadly, most Westerners don’t move their diaphragms much as they breathe and therefore deprive themselves of life-supporting oxygen in their body.
Another key technique used in breathing therapy involves making the in-out breaths continuous, without abrupt starts and stops (as practised in many systems). Many Westerners involuntarily hold their breath—sometimes for relatively long periods of time—and this causes a stress response in the brain that can ultimately elicit a total body response. This can involve nasty neurochemicals being dumped into the body that can act like poisions when triggered in excess. Over time, the effects of hormones released during stress can be detrimental to your health and create undesirable outcomes, such as premature ageing, disturbed thought patterns, negative emotions and bound or stuck places in your physical body.
By continually oxygenating the body with smooth changeovers from the in- to the out- to the in-breath, the stress response can be countered with a relaxation response.
Cultivating Relaxation for Health & Healing
Deep, diaphragm breathing can be practised alone or, once learned, in combination with any qi gong, tai chi, bagua, meditation or mind-body practice. The specific breathing techniques that I teach are practised to:
- Help people release toxins stored deep inside their body
- Wake up to the present moment
- Make the body conscious
- Strengthen their internal organs—the true determinants of good health
Breathing is one of the easiest methods for gaining access to your internal organs and unifying your body’s systems into one coherent whole, such as the cardiovascular, immune, digestive, nervous and cerebrospinal systems.
From the start you, you will learn how to go directly inside your body. With practice and in time, you can mould your breathing patterns in specific ways to bring oxygen to every part of your body because where there is oxygen there is life.
Along with improving oxygenation of your body, Tao breathing techniques also give your internal organs an effective yet gentle massage. This helps maintain elasticity and range of motion necessary for optimal functioning of your vital organs throughout your lifetime.
I’ve written extensively about diaphragm breathing techniques, including a six-part series to teach you how to build up to a spherical breath, practised by Taoist adpets for millennia. Browse my breathing blogs + follow along to a guided breathing practice now…