Many of us are breath anorexics. We take in enough to survive but not to thrive. With daily stress and the tendency to disconnect from our bodies, we begin to breath shallowly. Breathing is one of the two sources of postheaven qi from our environment, the second is the qi we extract from food. We are all born with a certain amount of reserve qi, which is called our Jing or Essence. This is often referred to as our preheaven qi. When you don’t take sufficient nutrients from your environment you use up your reserve qi, leading to shortened life span, disease, and premature aging.
I really like Alvaro Romano‘s simple breathing exercise he gives his students as the basis of everything he does. Simply focus on where you are breathing. If you are like most people you will find that most of your breathing occurs high in your chest. Focus on reversing this with the following exercise:
1. Put your hands on your belly just below your belly button. Expand this area as much as possible on your next inhale. Exhale fully and slowly, controlling your breath, contracting the abdomen.
2. Inhale again, expanding your lower belly. This time place your hands over your lower ribs and now feel your ribs expanding sideways as well. Exhale a full, slow, controlled breath
3. Inhale. Expand your lower abdomen, lower rib cage, and finally the chest. Exhale, taking as long as you can.
You can practice this exercise for a few minutes in the morning and at night before meditation or prayers (or as your meditation.) You will find that this exercise will immediately change your emotional state and energy levels. Natural, full breathing will make you feel more grounded and confident. It is an excellent remedy for panic attacks. If you have been a chronic breath anorexic you will find that it will transform the state of your health.