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Marc Abrams 01-21-2011 08:02 AM

Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote: (Post 273848)
Marc, I took a look at a few of your blogs. Since you don't define many terms with precision, I couldn't mesh a lot with what you're saying. In some aspects of things you and I have radically different perspectives, but simply say "each to his own". Well... there was one blog where you talked about people breathing sometimes while pulling their diaphragms upward that I would take exception to: if air is coming into your lungs the diaphragm *must* be going down. Other wise air would be pushed out of your lungs.

Best.

Mike Sigman

I assume that some people are aware of "Reverse Breathing." The blog that Mike mentions, I use "Reverse Breathing" more as an awareness exercise than for the typical purposes that "Reverse Breathing" is used for. Most people expand their upper chest when breathing in, while relaxing their diaphragm. My use of "Reverse Breathing" is for paradoxical intent. Having students connect their purposeful use of their diaphragm with how most people typically breathe, helps them to transition toward allowing their diaphragms to expand down into their groin area when breathing in.

Reverse breathing is a valuable tool for a number of things. Of course there is also "Ki Breathing." What other breathing methods to people employ and why?

Marc Abrams

Mike Sigman 01-21-2011 09:44 AM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Marc Abrams wrote: (Post 273878)
I assume that some people are aware of "Reverse Breathing." The blog that Mike mentions, I use "Reverse Breathing" more as an awareness exercise than for the typical purposes that "Reverse Breathing" is used for. Most people expand their upper chest when breathing in, while relaxing their diaphragm. My use of "Reverse Breathing" is for paradoxical intent. Having students connect their purposeful use of their diaphragm with how most people typically breathe, helps them to transition toward allowing their diaphragms to expand down into their groin area when breathing in.

Reverse breathing is a valuable tool for a number of things. Of course there is also "Ki Breathing." What other breathing methods to people employ and why?

Marc, let me make an observation with good intention: if I was a relative newby to Aikido or any other art, I would read your discussion and maybe get the idea that there are two different kinds of breathing. However, in addition to a not-really-clear definition of reverse-breath, there's no real clear reason what the usage differences are between normal/natural/post-birth breathing and reverse/pre-birth breathing.

And what is the point of "allowing their diaphragms to expand down into their groin area when breathing in"? Not trying to be picky here, but it's my habit to always read with an idea toward "what is the usable information here?".

My original comment was simply that in any type of breathing, on the inhale the diaphragm must come downward or air couldn't be pulled into the lungs. This is true for both 'reverse breathing' and for 'natural breathing'. "Ki Breathing" must be one of those two types. I dunno... it depends on what "Ki Breathing" is and that hasn't been defined; only labeled.

Tohei and his students have indicated that there are some types of breathing exercises that he hasn't made publicly available. My bet, based on knowing some breathing exercises from a number of Asian systems, is that the full breathing complement involves some instances of reverse breathing also.

Given that reverse-breathing is found pretty much everywhere in Asian martial-arts (i.e., it's no big secret), what do you think it's used for functionally, Marc?

Mike Sigman

Marc Abrams 01-21-2011 10:00 AM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote: (Post 273893)
Marc, let me make an observation with good intention: if I was a relative newby to Aikido or any other art, I would read your discussion and maybe get the idea that there are two different kinds of breathing. However, in addition to a not-really-clear definition of reverse-breath, there's no real clear reason what the usage differences are between normal/natural/post-birth breathing and reverse/pre-birth breathing.

And what is the point of "allowing their diaphragms to expand down into their groin area when breathing in"? Not trying to be picky here, but it's my habit to always read with an idea toward "what is the usable information here?".

My original comment was simply that in any type of breathing, on the inhale the diaphragm must come downward or air couldn't be pulled into the lungs. This is true for both 'reverse breathing' and for 'natural breathing'. "Ki Breathing" must be one of those two types. I dunno... it depends on what "Ki Breathing" is and that hasn't been defined; only labeled.

Tohei and his students have indicated that there are some types of breathing exercises that he hasn't made publicly available. My bet, based on knowing some breathing exercises from a number of Asian systems, is that the full breathing complement involves some instances of reverse breathing also.

Given that reverse-breathing is found pretty much everywhere in Asian martial-arts (i.e., it's no big secret), what do you think it's used for functionally, Marc?

Mike Sigman

Mike:

The blog is an accompaniment to my classes. We discuss our experiences of the use of breathing and how it related to our execution of waza. Believe it or not, I do understand the various reasons and uses for the different types of breathing (there are many more than two different types of breathing methods). I started this thread to stop the previous thread drift. I am interested in hearing about how other people view the use of breathing practices in their practice. Maybe you want to freely share how you use your breathing in your practice. I have to teach a class now. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

carina reinhardt 01-21-2011 11:37 AM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Before I began with aikido training I did 8 years yoga and our teacher alwayst told us to breath deep by expanding the abdomen, and also we had to breath out in the double of time we did to breath in. There are a lot of benefits you can read here. But most of all it makes you relax yourself and it is easy to verify, when you do a lot of training and your breathing is too fast try it and your breathing will become slow faster.

C. David Henderson 01-21-2011 12:20 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
I use conscious breathing techniques, FWIW in:

Yoga -- breathe "into" a joint, muscle or area of the body, use the rhythm of breath to deepen the posture/relax. Some Venassa.

Cardio -- vary breathing rate, depth, rhythm to maximize oxygen flow; vary the "shape" of the breath depending on the kind of sport and how it positions/contorts the body (e.g., cycling as opposed to swimming).

Meditation -- what I'd call "belly breathing," to calm and focus my mind.

Recently, in practice, what I think of as "reverse breathing" during certain techniques (e.g., suwari waza kokyu ho).

Parenting. Just breathe.

Mike Sigman 01-21-2011 12:35 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Marc Abrams wrote: (Post 273895)
Maybe you want to freely share how you use your breathing in your practice.

Well, I'm trying to get other people to share, Marc. For years I've read posts on AikiWeb where people say they know or already knew. I take them at their words and simply suggest that they share for the good of others in their art.

If you look at the archives, I've posted a lot of how-to's, diagrams, etc., on this forum and others. A number of Aikido people are on QiJin. So I "freely share", but I'm not going to talk endlessly without getting back some input from all the people who already know these things. And sure, there's always the implication that people from the last 5-6 years didn't really know everything and they were simply trying to save face... we all understand that... the way around it is for the people who "know" to start posting something to show it. Might they be asked uncomfortable questions about their assertions? Sure. But that's life in the fast lane. If you don't want to run with the big dogs you gotta stay on the porch and bark a lot. Ever notice the people that bark a lot at me? ;)

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Shadowfax 01-21-2011 01:41 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Have you tried inflating only one lung at a time and alternating sides? It's one I learned several years ago. Apparently it's commonly used as a breathing excercise for singers.

I had wondered exactly what reverse breathing was. I have seen references to it but never an explanation of what it was. Thank you for the post. :)

Keith Larman 01-21-2011 01:55 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Cherie Cornmesser wrote: (Post 273932)
Have you tried inflating only one lung at a time and alternating sides? It's one I learned several years ago. Apparently it's commonly used as a breathing excercise for singers.

Do you have a reference for that one? My brain can't quite comprehend how that could possibly be done intentionally.

Shadowfax 01-21-2011 02:16 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
LOL yeah I was kinda :hypno: when I first heard about it too.

Concentrate on your right lung and breath only into it and then out. Concentrate on your left lung and breath only into and out of it. Leave the opposing lung quiet. It's an interesting sensation once you get it.:D

Eric in Denver 01-21-2011 03:43 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Cherie Cornmesser wrote: (Post 273939)
LOL yeah I was kinda :hypno: when I first heard about it too.

Concentrate on your right lung and breath only into it and then out. Concentrate on your left lung and breath only into and out of it. Leave the opposing lung quiet. It's an interesting sensation once you get it.:D

I hadn't heard of this either. What is the purpose?

Mike Sigman 01-21-2011 03:48 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
My question would be "what does any given breathing practice have to do with substantively (not subjectively) improving your Aikido?".

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Shadowfax 01-21-2011 07:05 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Eric DesMarais wrote: (Post 273943)
I hadn't heard of this either. What is the purpose?

I really don't recall what the purpose was. I use it as an excercise in being able to isolate and control muscle groups that most people just don't think about.

Quote:

Mike Sigman wrote: (Post 273944)
My question would be "what does any given breathing practice have to do with substantively (not subjectively) improving your Aikido?".

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Myself personally. And this applies to more than just aikido. I have asthma. When I start having difficulty breathing I start concentrating on breathing. This is one of the exercises I might do. It helps me get my breathing back under control. I have not used any meds for my asthma since I started concentrating on breathing. (I am not advocating that anyone stop using their meds at all) It also helps me to calm down and relax when I start getting anxious, tense and reactive which sometimes does happen during aikdo practice.

Marc Abrams 01-22-2011 12:36 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Cherie Cornmesser wrote: (Post 273958)
I really don't recall what the purpose was. I use it as an excercise in being able to isolate and control muscle groups that most people just don't think about.

Myself personally. And this applies to more than just aikido. I have asthma. When I start having difficulty breathing I start concentrating on breathing. This is one of the exercises I might do. It helps me get my breathing back under control. I have not used any meds for my asthma since I started concentrating on breathing. (I am not advocating that anyone stop using their meds at all) It also helps me to calm down and relax when I start getting anxious, tense and reactive which sometimes does happen during aikdo practice.

Cherie:

Try this exercise. Sit seiza and have someone push down with both hands from behind on your shoulders. Breathe in slowly through your nose, expanding your diaphragm downwards. Imagine your core is becoming denser and your body inflates from the center. When you exhale slowly from your mouth, allow your diaphragm to naturally rise upwards. Imagine your core is becoming lighter and you feel a firmness throughout your surface area. When you breathe in, the person pushing should feel a sense of pneumatic expansion and when you exhale, the person should feel a sense of being led to your center. Let me know how it goes.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

Shadowfax 01-22-2011 01:40 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Cool thanks Marc I'll give it a try at the dojo tomorrow night if it does not slip my mind. :)

Another thing I was thinking about on this subject last night. I have spent a lot of time thinking about breathing and trying to be more aware of it once I realized that how I was breathing affected me in my aikido as well as in riding my horse.

Mark Rashid has mentioned the practice of breathing out just as we ask our horse to do something. Say change gait or speed or lift off over a jump or so forth. I find myself naturally breathing out on the effort, especially in ukemi as I am thrown.

When I hold my breath there are braces in my body. Stiffness that could lead to injury in a technique or block my horse from being able to fully feel and understand my request. It also makes my body more rigid so that following either my horse or my training partner is more difficult for me to do.

It does not even have to be holding my breath. Braces in my body can come from breathing shallowly or breathing from the top of the lung rather then all the way to the bottom. Long slow regular breathing increases endurance in things like Randori and Jyu waza. It seems to lend to a clearer mind as well....

A lot to think about. Anyway these are my observations such as they are. :)

C. David Henderson 01-22-2011 03:04 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
That is totally cool. Thank you.

Keith Larman 01-22-2011 03:09 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Marc Abrams wrote: (Post 274030)
Try this exercise...

Interesting. Will have to try that next chance I get.

Budd 01-22-2011 09:52 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Marc Abrams wrote: (Post 274030)
Cherie:

Try this exercise. Sit seiza and have someone push down with both hands from behind on your shoulders. Breathe in slowly through your nose, expanding your diaphragm downwards. Imagine your core is becoming denser and your body inflates from the center. When you exhale slowly from your mouth, allow your diaphragm to naturally rise upwards. Imagine your core is becoming lighter and you feel a firmness throughout your surface area. When you breathe in, the person pushing should feel a sense of pneumatic expansion and when you exhale, the person should feel a sense of being led to your center. Let me know how it goes.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

This is a great drill to start to get the "mind/intent leading the ki" piece going as well as using the breath to start to connect the whole body together (don't do too much too fast at first as there's some risks there, best is someone can show you). Add being able to connect centers and direct ground/gravity (earth/heaven) into somebody using the same intent/mind leading and you've got some of the very basics/foot in the door stuffs to IS.

oisin bourke 01-22-2011 10:23 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Budd Yuhasz wrote: (Post 274075)
This is a great drill to start to get the "mind/intent leading the ki" piece going as well as using the breath to start to connect the whole body together (don't do too much too fast at first as there's some risks there, best is someone can show you). Add being able to connect centers and direct ground/gravity (earth/heaven) into somebody using the same intent/mind leading and you've got some of the very basics/foot in the door stuffs to IS.

What does this drill do to your spine?

Budd 01-22-2011 10:37 PM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Oisin Bourke wrote: (Post 274080)
What does this drill do to your spine?

From the standpoint of the spine - what I care about is that I'm settling such that the upper body is fully supported by the lower body so that it can transmit the power generated by the legs and transferred by the middle. The spine then has a management role from the point at navel-ish height and the point where the band under/across the shoulders meets (though the latter tends more towards conveyor here, too). Initial efforts have the breath "packing" the body with a stretch that turns to pressure (which eventually you will manage via intent after a LOT of conditioning over a LOT of time) that will let you transfer the lower body power throughout your body as one unit moving all of you at once (see other posts on the six-directions, ground/gravity stuffs - all relevant regarding the "what" power and combinations in which its used).

There's more, but that's the entree' point at which the initial conditioning work should pay attention towards and build to. It will be hard to get too far unless you someone knowledgable showing you the steps and keeping you on track, but that's the logic.

oisin bourke 01-23-2011 12:12 AM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Budd Yuhasz wrote: (Post 274082)
From the standpoint of the spine - what I care about is that I'm settling such that the upper body is fully supported by the lower body so that it can transmit the power generated by the legs and transferred by the middle. The spine then has a management role from the point at navel-ish height and the point where the band under/across the shoulders meets (though the latter tends more towards conveyor here, too). Initial efforts have the breath "packing" the body with a stretch that turns to pressure (which eventually you will manage via intent after a LOT of conditioning over a LOT of time) that will let you transfer the lower body power throughout your body as one unit moving all of you at once (see other posts on the six-directions, ground/gravity stuffs - all relevant regarding the "what" power and combinations in which its used).

There's more, but that's the entree' point at which the initial conditioning work should pay attention towards and build to. It will be hard to get too far unless you someone knowledgable showing you the steps and keeping you on track, but that's the logic.

Thanks Budd, and thanks Marc for the original excercise.

Here are some thoughts I have, take them as you will.

What about, when one exhales, the area from the diaphragm downwards doesn't "rise", rather the pressure sensation created in the lower body by the inhalation/breath is conciously maintained? This pressure allows the spine to "rise/stretch" naturally.

The reason I asked about the spine was because the upper body, as I see it, should also include connection of skull and spine. If the skull is correctly balanced, the breath should do a lot of the stretching naturally.

Does this correspond with what you mean by "packing"?

Budd 01-23-2011 01:26 AM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Oisin Bourke wrote: (Post 274090)
Thanks Budd, and thanks Marc for the original excercise.

Here are some thoughts I have, take them as you will.

What about, when one exhales, the area from the diaphragm downwards doesn't "rise", rather the pressure sensation created in the lower body by the inhalation/breath is conciously maintained? This pressure allows the spine to "rise/stretch" naturally.

The reason I asked about the spine was because the upper body, as I see it, should also include connection of skull and spine. If the skull is correctly balanced, the breath should do a lot of the stretching naturally.

Does this correspond with what you mean by "packing"?

I would say so - since the lower body is generating the impulse and the "store" happens up through the torso (as part of the connected unit, that's crucial). Skull/head hanging by a string through the top of the head, alignment good - check - will help propagate everything. How well and purely you can manage the stored pressure will result in the "stuff" that happens when someone touches you.

oisin bourke 01-23-2011 04:31 AM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Marc Abrams wrote: (Post 274030)
Cherie:

When you exhale slowly from your mouth, allow your diaphragm to naturally rise upwards.

Marc Abrams

A question for anyone: Why exhale from the mouth?

Shadowfax 01-23-2011 06:50 AM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Quote:

Oisin Bourke wrote: (Post 274103)
A question for anyone: Why exhale from the mouth?

well....

Just sit quietly and breath. First breath out through your nose then try through your mouth. What I notice is when I breath out through my mouth my shoulders relax down and back and my body feels relaxed I feel my center drop lower and get heavy, but when I breath out through my nose they actually rise up and forward and I feel tension in my body I feel as if I have lost connection to the earth.

At the moment I can't explain further but seems to me that One helps to make me even more grounded and centered while the other lifts me up and makes me unbalanced...

Am I anywhere near close?

Marc Abrams 01-23-2011 09:26 AM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Budd & Oisin:

Fantastic contributions! One of the reasons that I use this exercise as an entry point is that I can help students create good postural alignment in the seiza position. If you are in the proper position, you will instantly notice that you breathe deeper. Connecting breath to posture is an excellent starting point in creating the body connectivity that Budd mentioned. This exercise also allows a person to begin to develop the connection between breath and the entire body through eliminating body movement (other than what happens when you breathe). Proper instruction in anything is necessary to maximize the learning potential and the corrections in posture and breathing is important (as Budd mentioned). The expansion that Oisin mentioned should occur throughout the entire body and it should feel like a pneumatic (pressure) expansion and contraction. People typically "cheat" and try and create the expansion and contraction through muscle tension and release. That is why good hand-on work with a partner can be critical.

The "packing" stuff is definitely higher level stuff. I demonstrate that to my students by using that during the suwari waza, kokyo dosa, oshi exercise. I will have them grab my wrists. I will create the packing without them being aware of it and use a burst release through exhalation and they are knocked over (if I do it properly) or knocked off balance (if I do not do it as well as I should) without any voluntary muscle movement on my part.

I will write back later about the exhalation through the mouth question later. I work privately with some high school wrestlers and the bunch of meat-heads ;) just arrived!

Regards,

marc abrams

Shadowfax 01-24-2011 09:33 AM

Re: Breathing Practices
 
Didn't get to try that excercise just yet Marc. Knees were way to stiff and sore to sit seiza long enough to give it a try last night. I will not forget though to give it a try when they are a little more limber.


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