Ian Dodkins wrote:
...I'm sure you know Ted, that Chi Gung is a great source of info on breathing exercises and the many different 'ways' of breathing. Generally I go for in thru nose, push breath down into hara whilst expanding stomach, and as you breath out thru mouth you push stomach forward more (into centre).
What does the ki society do?...
The Ki Society uses abdominal breathing with the inhalation from the nose and the exhalation from the mouth. Breaths are slow with periods of interchange. In general I've noticed the Ki Society tries to simplify the execution of techniques/exercises. Breathing, like everything else, is subject to ki tests. You might be breathing or meditating and an instructor will give you a ki test to see if you're doing it correctly.
The ki meditation comes from zazen, although it's not as physical. The main purpose is to relax while meditating. There are two forms of ki meditation, expansion and contraction. These forms mirror the breathing process of inhalation and exhalation. Like Mike noted, these are really two sides of the same coin, if done correctly.
I usually practice breathing exercise first. It's a physical way to relax the body. I can then follow-up with meditation to relax the mind. The Ki Society recommended times has changed over the years. There are also different ways to do this. Standing and sitting seiza are some ways William Reed recommended in Ki : A Practical Guide for Westerners
Led by Suzuki Sensei, the Maui Ki Society advocates one hour of breathing daily. I've also read of Japan doing a quieter form of breathing and that K. Tohei was emphasizing the periods between the breath. I think it was to insure people extend ki and don't "collapse" between breaths.