Breathing exercises are worked within the Tai Chi and Qigong systems for a variety of reasons; cultivating a meditative state, enhancing the body’s energy level, calming the mind and cleansing stagnancy and toxins from the body.
The Four Count Breathing is a simple set that provides all of the benefits mentioned above and is an excellent way to prepare, physically and mentally, for further internal arts practice. These breathing exercises can be worked anywhere from five minutes to half an hour or more.
Four Count Breathing Exercises Body Alignments:
Stand with the feet shoulder width and parallel. The knees are lightly bent. Sit down with the tailbone allowing the pelvis to tuck slightly. Shoulders are relaxed down and out to the sides. Push up gently with the crown of the head and let the chin draw in a bit.
Four Count Breathing Exercises Movements:
Inhale through the nose while allowing the hands to lift up in front of the torso with the palms turned up and slightly in. At the peak of the inhale the hands are at the top of the chest.
Exhale through the mouth. The palms rotate and push out from the body. The palms face out and down with the wrists relaxed. As you exhale the throat is partially closed creating an audible “haaaah” sound. At the end of the exhale the arms are extended 95% at shoulder height.
Inhale through the nose. The palms turn in and gather toward the chest.
Exhale through the mouth as you push down the front of the body with the palms turned slightly in. Create the same “haaah” sound.
Repeat from 5 to 30 or more minutes.
Points of focus with these breathing exercises:
On the inhales visualize drawing in through every pore allowing the whole body to expand with the movement.
On the exhales let the whole body contract with the breath and sink the weight.
Even out the breaths. Begin with an inhale/exhale count of 4/4, expand to 6/6, or 10/10. Elongate the breaths as much as you can while keeping them comfortable and even. If the breath feels forced at any point back off a bit.
Four Count Breathing Exercises Practice Guidelines:
Work this set fifteen minutes (minimum), every day for a month to become familiar with it. Beyond that the Four Count breathing exercises should become incorporated into your life. When you have a moment, take five minutes, a couple of times a day, to work these breathing exercises. This will allow you to more fully integrate your practice and daily life. Each session will help revitalize and relax you; shedding stress throughout the day to minimize it’s negative effects.
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