By: John Woodend, Reception Desk Director
“Consider the ebb and flow of the tide. When waves come to strike the shore, they crest and fall, creating a sound. Your breath should follow the same pattern. . .” – Morihei Ueshiba
In Aikido, there is a breathing exercise called Ki Breathing. The purpose of the exercise is to calm yourself and breath full breaths, utilizing one’s full lung capacity. The results of ki breathing is better blood flow and a heightened spatial awareness. In addition, people often find physical problems that they were not aware of before, such as a tense or knotted muscle.
The way you practice ki breathing is not as complex as other breathing exersics although it does take some practice to get used to it. Sitting or kneeling, with your back straight and slightly leaning forward from your hips, you take a small “secret” inhale, because the first breath is an exhale. Breathe out slowly through your mouth making an “AHHHH” sound from the back of your throat. Your breath should originate from your lower stomach (below the belly button) and as you breath out, your stomach should move inward. Once you feel that you have breathed all the air out of your lungs lean forward, from the hips, about six inches and you will find that you have just a little more breath in you. Hold your breath for two seconds then inhale very slowly through the tips of your nostrils. The inhale breath should be filling up your stomach allowing you to rise again to a straight posture. Keep slowly inhaling until you have reached your full lung capacity and hold the breath for two seconds before beginning your next exhale. To start with inhales can last 15 seconds and exhales 20 seconds.
Practicing for five minutes you will be surprised at how good mindful breathing will make you feel. We have a lot more breath in your lungs than we generally think we do. Do not practice Ki breathing while wearing your face mask. However, if you feel like you have a hard time breathing while wearing your face mask, for non-medical reasons, practicing ki breathing could help you feel more comfortable and confident with your breathing.