Question 1: What kind of breathing method do you use when practice Wuji Qigong or any Qigong? Reverse breathing (Ni Fu Shi ) or Belly Breathing (Shun Fu Shi)? Also, do you inhale and exhale through the nose or breathe in through the nose, breathe out through the mouth.
I just recently took a private Qigong lesson from a very accomplished Qigong and Taijiquan teacher from China, and he mentioned that Qigong should always breathe in through the nose and breathe out through the mouth. I would like to hear about your thoughts on this?
Answer : Master William Ting* never speaks of how to breathe....rather how we improve our posture to regulate our breath! As soon as we put our focus on how to breath, we have disrupted the natural way of breathing. I rarely discuss breathing in class, because the posture attenuates the breath.
If your posture is correct and you are in song, then the breath will be correct and natural (abdominal breathing). As soon as we try to force a breath into a specific formula (in through the nose, out through the mouth, or reverse breathing), then we are no longer in a state of Tai Chi. At this point we are focused, trying, and manipulating a normally natural process, rather than simply feeling our body and being aware.
There are many different types of Qigong. If one is practicing a specific medical Qigong, there might be a focus on breathing a particular way, such as your Qigong instructor offers. However, I stand by the goal of not manipulating breathing and allowing it to be as natural as possible through proper posture and movement principles. If you are well rooted, in song, arms not too high, joints open, then your breath will be correct.
Also, your breath should never be choreographed with movement. Trying to match movement to breath is external and contrived. Again, we are forcing a situation rather than allowing it.
Some Qigong practice might suggest coordinating breathing with the movements for health benefits. That is okay as long as the individuals are allowed to move through the movements at their own pace and are not being forced to move with the leader's pace. However, I again contend, if the posture is correct, then the breath will naturally align with the movements in a non-forced, more healthful way.
Thanks for the great questions!
Copyright @2022 Susan Thompson, OTR
*More excellent Resources for the reader:
Essential Concepts of Tai Chi by Master William Ting
Answers to Common Tai Chi and Qigong Questions by Master William Ting