Breathing … we do it all the time.
But how well do we really breathe?
Summer 2019/20 has been very, very tough – not least in terms of the air quality in our major cities. Now that the smoke has cleared, let’s follow through on the Triple Heater theme and have a look at how to build energy in the Upper Heater simply by breathing better.
The Upper Heater/Energiser takes in the chest, upper back and rib-cage area – down to the diaphragm. It holds the heart, pericardium and lung organs and connects strongly with those three meridians. Better breathing allows us to absorb more oxygen & KI energy from the environment – all the better for feeding our greater system. The actual physical activity of (good) breathing also generates heat energy in the body.
These two exercises, like all capacity-enhancing breathing work, are most effective if done out in the fresh air with the rising energy of the early morning. A fine open space with a horizon in view is perfect.
However, your backyard, balcony or open window will also do the trick. So long as you’re getting the freshest air possible.
Sequence #1: Making Space for Better Breathing
Release your inner Tarzan.
This too easy exercise loosens and opens the lungs to create space for greater uptake of energy and oxygen. The sequence involves a few different breathing patterns and actions (which can be done on their own). Each one is super simple and the sequence as a whole flows easily.
Stand with feet hip width apart and relaxed knees. Lift from the crown of your head and feel your lower back drop. Enjoy the length in your spine and allow your shoulders, rib-cage, pelvis and abdomen to hang softly.
Without forcing, send the breath down as far as you can into your belly and stay with this breathing for a few gentle cycles. Relax into it and extend the exhalation.
You may find that already this generates a little heat in the body.
- On inhalation, lead with the thumbs to gently rotate the palms & arms (straight) outward and upward(via your side plane).
Hold the breath in – just a momentary pause – at the top.
- On exhalation, again leading with the thumbs, rotate the palms/arms inward and downward.
Pause with the breath out at the bottom.
- Repeat over for a few cycles.
- Come to rest at the top of the cycle with your breath held in, ready to …
- Exhale more strongly as you hinge at the groin and double your torso over your legs. (Keep, the knees relaxed.)
Release as much air as you can without straining.
Wait for your system to breathe in by itself.
While waiting, make fists with the thumbs tucked in
- Use the inhalation to come back to standing, arms up in the air
- Hold the breath in as you tap/pound all over your upper rib cage.
Be sure to cover everywhere from collar bones to the top of the breasts and get right into the hollows under the shoulder joints where the important Lung Acupoints are.
Keep your wrists very loose throughout the tapping/pounding. Start gently but don’t be afraid to get quite vigorous as you get into it.
The more vigorous you are, the more you stimulate the lungs and the more energy you generate
- When you absolutely have to exhale, double yourself over once again, let it all out then wait a moment, with no breath.
Check your fists, before starting the next cycle when your body wants to …
- Breathe in and stand tall again, holding the breath in as you …
Punch directly upward – times 6
Punch out at 45 deg. – times 6
- Repeat the punching until you have to exhale and double over again.
Wait, and let the body lead the way.
- Breathing in to stand tall. Again, hold the breath in as long as you can as you tap/pound all around your lower rib cage.
Be sure to go right down to the bottom – and sides – of the ribs as well as across the diaphragm.
- When you absolutely have to exhale, double yourself over once again and wait, with no breath, check your fists, before …
- Repeat steps 2 >> 8 three times.
Sequence #2: Training Your Uptake Capacity
This exercise focuses on building eliminatory strength on exhalation to encourage maximum uptake of energy and oxygen on the inhalation. Try it regularly over a week or so: 5-10 minutes a couple of times per day. You will be amazed at how much bigger and more powerful your lungs will feel.
Setting up & Breathing #1
- Standing – as for Sequence #1, with soft knees, long spine and releases shoulders, ribs, pelvis & abdomen.
- Lying down – with feet hip width apart, knees bent up and leaning in together to create a comfortable angle at the groin
- As for Sequence #1 – send the breath down into your lower belly and stay with this breathing for a few gentle cycles. Relax into it, extend the exhalation.
- THEN do a little mind shift and reverse the “order” of your breathing:
>> think (1st) breathe out then (2nd) breathe in
(rather than the reverse which is the default).
- Take a few breath cycles to establish this shift of focus and hold on to it.
- Start to really use your out-breath to get rid of absolutely all the (old, undesirable) air.
Systematically engage the pelvic floor, lower core, abdominal and intercostal muscles to really squeeze out every last whiff.
(You should be able to get plenty of contraction out of all those muscles.)
- When you think it is all gone, go for one last squeeze.
- Hold the breath out just for a moment (or two) before shifting into passive gear for the 2nd phase.
- GENTLY allow the compression to release and allow yourself to be inspired so that the clean vital air – oxygen & KI energy – fills you out.
- Repeat over for 5 breath cycles.
As you get better at it, build to 10.
- Gently return – with enhanced capacity – to your calming lower belly breathing.
- Be aware of (if not amazed at) the energy and warmth generated inside.
Thoughts On and Beyond Breathing
An important take away from these exercises is that our ability to breathe in really well & maximize our uptake depends very much on our ability to effectively breathe out.
Something similar can be said for the MIDDLE HEATER in the upper/mid abdomen. This is where we take in nutritional energy and generate heat via our digestion/absorption process. Maximum function here, regardless of the quality of the nutrients going in, is highly dependent on our ability to eliminate toxic waste from our system via our large intestine. The Large Intestine is (surprise surprise) the Yang meridian pair of the Lung (Yin).
As a point of reference for how the capacity and strength of your Lung Meridian is developing, try working systematically with this Zen Energy Exercise.