Location: Durango, CO
Join Date: Feb 2005
Re: Deep Breathing and its meaning
Thanks for sharing that, Dennis. Just for the fun of it, I'll throw in a couple of thoughts, make of them what you will:
"Tanden" is the Japanese pronunciation of "Dantien" in Chinese, meaning more or less the "area of change" (it's an obscure reference to "cinnabar", mercuric oxide, which changes from a red mineral into the silvery liquid mercury, upon heating). The term "Tanden-no Kokyu" is therefore not functionally quite the same as "Hara-no Kokyu" .. it has deeper implications. "Kokyu", as has been discussed, can mean "breath", but it also can imply a certain method of force which is essentially the "jin", the trained force skill, often referred to in China. So the meaning of "Tanden-no Kokyu" becomes moot if we look at all potential meanings; it can mean more than just "Deep Breathing".
"Tanden Breathing" (or "Dantien Breathing", your choice) means specifically a couple of things to me. First of all, it is the initial step in beginning to build the power that is so unusual that it has rated comment in Asia for many centuries. It is, as I pointed out in a quote from a website discussing Misogi-no Kyo, the "concentrating of the breath at the navel". This is the start of the 'great power' that develops from focused breathing exercises of a certain sort.
As part of these breathing exercises and great strength development, the fascia areas are developed. Interestingly enough, according to James L. Oschman and others, the strength of the fascia system(s) has a lot to do with the strength of the immune system and what it does. The constant references to the breathing exercises is not only that they produce strength, but that they also effect the "health" and immune-system functions of the body, when done correctly. Yes, it takes a while for the changes to take place, but anecdotally I have to say that (cynic and sceptic that I am), (1.) I would tend to agree that health functions are affected... (2.)personally, based on the amount of workouts per week, etc., that I do, I would definitively say that increased substantive strength increase is a shoo-in.
Insofar as sitting and doing Tanden breathing, I don't say anything against it, but I would recommend that people do it while standing. The fascia-related structures of the lower body can be trained better while standing... i.e., you can get a more complete positive effect by standing during deep-breathing than can be gained by sitting, IMO (and in the opinion of many others, as well).
To get a better feel for what the foscuses are in breathing exercises (other than the beneficial aspects mentioned in Dennis' post, of course), let me suggest a simple approach:
First stand with legs at shoulder width and arms extended out at 45-degrees between shoulder-height and the vertical. Think of your body as a sort of "balloon" with the skin of the balloon, the outer "suit" which you should feel for just under your skin, stretched out somewhat but not too tight. Inhale through the nose while pulling the stomach area in at the same time. Feel for the slight pull/tension under the skin in the fingertips, fingers, palms, maybe forearms, etc., every time you slowly inhale while pulling in the stomach-area. Hopefully you'll feel this "suit" tauten as you inhale and pull in the stomach area. The tautness happens because you're pulling this "suit" in with your stomach and also because pressure is building up inside the body, adding to the pressure within the "suit".
Two things are happening that are worth focusing your attention on: (1.) the "suit" gets a stretch during the inhale and it relaxes during the exhale. It is a slight "workout" for the myofascial area under the skin. (2.) pressure builds up within the abdominal areal... this is the "concentrating the breath in the navel area".
Anyway, it's a potential start to the "ki" side of things that can be, IMO, more helpful than just breathing deeply.