Slow down. Breathe.
It’s not a race, it’s not about perfection.
Savour the moment. Let go and breathe.
Tai Chi is the original mind/body exercise system, and it has always had a great deal to offer to those interested in a well-rounded program of vigorous fitness and relaxing meditation. The history of the modern martial arts will show that the founders always intended their training to be for everyone, regardless of age, sex, and previous athletic training. In a step- by -step fashion the practice of Tai Chi improves flexibility, alignment, strength, mental focus, stamina, and reduces stress in the body and the mind.
The philosophical and spiritual background is of particular interest in today’s society where movement therapy and bodywork theories have borrowed from the martial arts curriculum.
In Tai Chi Tigers classes, we all begin by becoming aware of our breathing – sitting or standing. So firstly, correct your posture – feet shoulder width apart and hands resting on your dantien- feel the pull up from the top of your head stretching your spine gently towards the sky whilst imagining your weight sinking down into the soles of your feet, connecting you to the earth. Feel the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and relax your face muscles. Relax your shoulders and listen to the natural rhythm of your breathing. Feel the air coming in through the nose/mouth then being released through the nose or mouth – whichever is most comfortable for you. Add co-ordination of body and mind through relaxing your knees breathing out and stretching them whilst breathing in.
The benefits of breathing in such a manner can help you to relax and become calm, practice at bedtime lying down to aid sleep or let your breath take away stress.
“After last week’s class I had the best nights sleep ever – so deep and relaxing.” A.R. Huddersfield
Breathing from the dantian is the most natural way to breathe and well worthwhile spending time for yourself to practice in this way. With regular practice you will notice a difference in your wellbeing – your mind and body, a more relaxed and healthy you. Take 3- 5 minutes regularly throughout the day to breathe from the dantian.
EACH breath we take, from the first to the last, is the very measure of our days. Continuously, we engage in an exchange with the air around us. Our organism replenishes its supply of oxygen and rids itself of carbon dioxide through the process of respiration.
Breathing is unusual as a bodily function. Unlike most other vital processes (the pumping of the heart, the filtering of the kidneys, for example, where the body continues performing the process unconsciously), we also have a voluntary control over breathing rhythms and volumes. We can hold our breath to go underwater, exhale to sing a long sustained tone, or inhale a deep lungful of scented air in a pine forest. This is an important area in the distribution of power between the body and the mind; neither is in complete control and the balance is always subject to negotiation.
Why then, do we tend to completely ignore our breathing? Unless congested with flu or out of breath after climbing a long flight of stairs, we hardly take notice of our most vital activity.
“The martial artist, however, studies this delicate relationship as a fundamental part of training. He practices with careful attention to breathing in order to energise and efficiently utilise the body’s power. By consciously controlling his exhalations, he can calm the mind and relax emotional responses”.
“Early in their training Tai Chi students (martial artists) will learn to inhale and exhale in such a way that maximum gas exchange can take place at the cellular level. Greater control over the mechanism of breathing can benefit technique, timing, and the overall health and strength of the body. Through abdominal breathing, muscles can be alternately contracted and relaxed to maximise breathing potential and provide anatomical support to the body. Expanding the mind’s ability to focus and empty in the same way, is an additional benefit of the exercise of breathing”.
The extract above is taken from “The Secret Art of Health and Fitness”
Join a class and enjoy your breathing, and become calm and relaxed – with an improved quality of life and living. Please give Marsha or David a call or email us and find out what this is all about. Treasure your gift of life and look after yourself.