Does anybody know of some good breathing exercises I can practice at home? I have a bad habit of breathing erratically when I am uke. It fatigues me badly.
Do any of you have any methods that you used at home to help you?
Very good question. To address your two points would require quite a bit of space here. I am sure you will find many various and often conflicting responses. My favorites from among the "inaccurate but often repeated"
category would be:
1. always breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.
2. you should always breathe out when doing a technique.
You certainly can do either or both of these, but there is a time and place when it is highly inadvisable to do either.
Ko-Kyu literally means breath out-breath in... However my current understanding is that it is the method by which you do those two simple things that will bring you stability and eventually Kokyu-Ryoku (breath power) Note, while a topic for another thread, breathing correctly, alone, does not give you breath power.
Two points on which to focus
1. Conservation of breath.
2. Control of breath.
These are not the same things...
From my practice I believe this can be achieved by understanding the following two points
1. When not to breathe.
2. How not to breathe.
You can try the following two exercises to see if you are able to improve your understanding in these two critical areas.
- During techniques and ukemi do not breath at all. You do this by breathing very shallowly between techniques and between rolls.
- sitting in seiza, complete the following four elements in flowing succession: Please note - get an old-fashioned clock that loudly ticks away the seconds. The timing is very important and you can raise your sense of hearing during this exercise.
1. Breathe in for 5 seconds, letting the breath fall to just below your navel (belly button). Things to note: Do not breath in to 100% of your lung capacity. Keep your chin tucked in, your eyes open, your tail bone tucked under, your hands and fingers relaxed, your shoulders slightly back and down so that your shoulder blades move towards each other. Please also try to release any tension in your stomach area.
2. Hold the breath there (in as relaxed a manner as possible) for 5 seconds. Please do not send the breath to the crown chakra either while maintaining or upon releasing the breath.
3. Release the breath for a duration of 5 seconds. Try to expel as much of your breath as possible. Once fully exhaled try visualize your tail bone moving forward and up towards your navel.
4. Maintain the absence of breath within the lungs for 5 seconds.
One complete breath (breathing in and out one time) now takes you a total of 20 seconds, or three breaths per minute. Repeat this process for 5 minutes for a total of 15 breaths in 5 minutes. As time goes on you can move to 7 second intervals (10 breaths in 5 minutes), 10 second intervals (7.5 breaths in 5 minutes), 15 second intervals (5 breaths in 5 minutes), 20 second intervals and so on...
Do not rush to try and do less breaths per minute too quickly. Try to focus on maintaining the proper interval at all times throughout the exercise. You should breath comfortably at that interval. If you are having any trouble with any one of the four sections, then go to a lower interval. Once you become fully comfortable doing a particular interval for 5 minutes try doing it at that interval for ten minutes before your practice and 5 minutes immediately following your training session. If you are able to maintain this interval for 5 full minutes at the end of your training session you might look to go up to the next interval. There isn't much of a need to do this exercise for more than ten minutes at a stretch, unless of course you are trying to improve your seiza and need something to focus on other than your legs falling asleep. There are quite a few subtleties that you can look to work on later on. In the meantime please feel free to email me directly if you have any questions.