is a very specific respiratory practice, used to stimulate the student's
It can be practiced either standing, or seated on a chair, stool or bench,
or in a crosslegged posture or in the seiza posture, or whilst reclining.
a time and place where you are unlikely to be disturbed - initially 5
-10 minutes will be quite sufficient for practice - with time you may
want to increase this.
Remove your shoes. And wherever you are doing this exercise - indoors
or out, make sure (if standing, or seated on the floor) the floor/ground
is both comfortable and warm. Do not practice this on cold floors/ground,
do not practice in the cold, generally.
If you are doing this standing up, begin by standing with your feet about
shoulder-with apart, arms by your sides.
If seated, sit up straight (comfortably so - no need for rigid military-style
posture - this will only impede the technique). Rest your hands, palms
down, on your legs.
If reclining, rest your arms by your sides.
by 'hara-centering', and 'watching the breath': loosely focussing on the
natural rhythms of your breathing. There is no interference with the natural
process - no seeking to consciously breathe - merely to be aware that
you are breathing effortlessly.
a few moments, begin to consciously intervene in your respiratory process.
Without straining, inhale a long, slow breath - until the lungs are almost
(yet not quite) full, then immediately, smoothly, start to exhale at the
same slow rate, continuing until the lungs are almost (yet not quite)
empty; immediately and smoothly beginning again to inhale - almost to
capacity, then exhaling again.
Maintaining a steady rhythm - continue this cycle of breathing, focussing
on quality, pace, and smoothness of respiration for a total of nine breaths.
As the ninth exhalation is completed, immediately start to inhale once
more, but this time the breath, though still smooth, and at the same slow
rate, is only inhaled to the point where the lungs are approximately half-filled,
then immediately, smoothly, exhaled again at the same slow rate, continuing
until the lungs are almost empty once more. This 'half-capacity' breath
is followed immediately by another long, slow breath - until the lungs
are almost full, then exhaled at the same slow rate, continuing until
the lungs are almost empty, followed by another 'half-capacity' breath.
And so the pattern continues - a long, full breath followed seamlessly
by a short 'half-capacity' breath followed by a long breath followed by
a short breath - and so on.
This breathing pattern can be continued for a short while - as long as
you feel comfortable with the process. While this pattern involves controlled
breathng, the aim is for this process to become an almost subconscious,
effortless one. At no time should there be even the slightest degree of
strain or forcing involved in the practice of this breathing pattern,
and if at any time there is any sense of even the mildest discomfort,
you should simply relax into your natural breathing rhythms once more.
© 2002 James Deacon