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(11 pages total)

Page 5 - Bagua Qigong (Pa Kau Chang Ch'i Kung)

Bagua Qigong

Breath control and development exercises are powerful techniques that can greatly improve health, longevity and martial arts development, however, if practiced incorrectly they can also be very dangerous. Moreover, a breathing exercise practiced perfectly by one whose body is not ready, or is not suited, for that specific exercise can also cause damage. Park teaches breathing exercises as an integral part of his program, however, his teaching is by prescription. Each student is given personal breathing exercises based on their unique needs and their level of development. Park explains that a doctor who is treating a number of patients will not prescribe the same thing to everyone. One person may need more of a certain vitamin, one may need to increase mineral intake, another may need to cut back on cholesterol, etc. Park uses the same approach when assigning breathing techniques to students. His teacher taught him over twenty breathing methods, each with a specific purpose and designed to provide a different result.

Although Park's approach to teaching breathing exercises is by prescription, there are two basic breathing techniques that he will give to almost all of his students to build a foundation. (Students who should not practice these exercises are those with asthma, high blood pressure, and/or other heart or lung disorders. These students will be given separate exercises). When a student begins in Park's school he will be given three breathing exercises, the first two build a foundation and the third is the prescription breathing.

Park will generally give the student a new breathing exercise every 3-4 months depending on his or her progress. When practicing breathing, the student will always practice the first two foundation breathing exercises prior to the third prescription exercise. When the student is ready for a higher level technique, the third exercise is discarded and replaced with a new breathing exercise, however, the first two remain the same.

The first two fundamental breathing exercises Park teaches are the "cleansing breath" and the "filling breath." Park's philosophy is that before the Qi development breathing exercises are practiced, the air in the body needs to be clean and the lungs need to be working at full capacity. When we breathe, we inhale good air (what Park calls "life force energy"), however with that good air we also take in dirty air (what Park calls "bad chemicals"). Anyone who has read the ingredients label on most processed or packaged food also knows that we consume "bad chemicals" in our food as well. In order to operate efficiently, the body will naturally try to rid itself of these bad chemicals. One device the body employs is the digestive/elimination system and another is the respiratory system. With the exhale, the body will eliminate some of the "bad chemicals" it has consumed. The majority of this cleaning process is accomplished at night while the body rests. If you want to test this theory, have someone smell your breathe when you first wake up. What most people call halitosis, Park calls "getting rid of bad chemicals." The "cleansing breath" exercise is designed to help you eliminate the bad chemicals from your body before you practice your Qi development breathing exercises.

The second breathing exercise that is practiced prior to the Qi development breathing exercises is the "filling breath." Most breathing exercises from the East Indian or Chinese yogic traditions focus the breath down in the lower abdomen or tan t'ien. Park states that while the student should eventually learn this type of breathing, a preliminary step is to insure that all five lobes of the lungs are able to fill to capacity. Individuals who have never practiced breathing exercises will usually take shallow breaths. Shallow breathing only exercises the upper part of the lungs and thus breathing is inefficient. On the other hand, some individuals who have been practicing only lower abdomen breathing exercises for a number of years will tend to breathe only in their lower abdomen and the upper chest becomes tight and thus full breathing capacity is restricted. By practicing the "filling breath" everyday before your Qi development breathing exercises, you will insure that all the lobes of the lungs are exercised and the chest can expand properly.

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