(11 pages total)
Page 6 - Bagua Qigong (Pa Kau Chang Ch'i Kung)
Park recommends that when practicing breathing exercises it is best to practice them in the morning before ten o'clock. The optimum time for practice is the period of time from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunrise. During this period of time the air is best for breathing because when the sun is rising, the night air, which is yin, is changing to the day air, which is yang. In Chinese yin-yang theory, when yin is in the process of changing to yang (or vice-versa), the energy is strongest. It is best to practice breathing exercises outdoors and facing the sun. If practicing indoors, you may want to open a window to get fresh air and even if you are indoors, it is still best to face the sun.
Although Park recommends that you practice your breathing exercises before ten o'clock in the morning, this is strictly a guideline. The underlying factor to consider when determining the best time of day to practice breathing exercises is the balance of yin and yang energy in the air. As a rule of thumb, cold, wet air is yin and warm, dry air is yang. Therefore, Park says that if you live in Texas and it is summer time, by ten o'clock in the morning it will be too hot (too much yang air) to practice breathing exercises efficiently. On the other hand, Park also recommends that if it is raining for three days in a row, you skip your breathing exercises for a day because the air is too wet (yin).
You can gain benefit by practicing breathing exercises at anytime--in other words, practicing a correct breathing technique at the wrong time of the day will not damage your body. However, when the air is too yin or too yang, the benefit you gain will not be worth the effort expended. If you stick with practicing sometime between one half hour before sunrise and one half hour after sunrise, you will gain the most benefit for the effort expended.
As for the correct body posture to use while practicing breathing exercises, Park states that as long as your body is relaxed and natural, your posture is correct. You can sit on the floor, in a chair, or stand. Sitting on the edge of a straight backed chair, with the spine straight and hands placed on your knees will probably be most comfortable. The tongue lightly touches the upper palate behind the front teeth. Placing the hands on the knees will help to complete an "energy circuit" in the body. If your lower abdomen area is weak, you can also place your hands there.
The two basic breathing exercises are described below:
The Cleansing Breath
As described above, the purpose for the cleansing breath is to "clean" the air we inhale, separating the "life force energy" from the "bad chemicals." To practice this breathing method you will sit in a comfortable position as described above and initiate the exercise by taking a long, deep inhale through the nose filling the chest cavity with air. At the conclusion of the inhale, you begin to exhale through the mouth. The lips are mostly closed during the exhale. You will only allow a very small hole to open between your lips and you will exhale slowly through this hole. The length of the exhale should be two to three times the length of the inhale, however, you want to remain relaxed. Do not try to force your inhale or exhale to be so long that you are not comfortable.
The purpose of exhaling slowly through a very small opening in between the lips is to allow the "bad chemicals" to escape while breathing the "life force energy." Park explains through a simple analogy. Imagine you have a clear plastic bottle in your hand that is three-quarters full of water and has a nozzle at the top (like one of those plastic ketchup or mustard bottles you see in a diner). Imagine you are holding the bottle so that the nozzle is facing up. If you squeeze the bottle very slowly and then stop applying pressure just before the water comes out of the nozzle, the only thing that escapes is the air that was in the top quarter of the bottle. On the other hand, if you were to squeeze the bottle rapidly with force, the air would come out and you would also lose part of the water.
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