(NaturalNews) Many of the older cultures and traditions around the world share a concept of health and well-being centered on the breathing process. Foremost of these are the Hindu teachings of Pranayama, which translates as extension of life, and the Chinese practice called Qigong or Chi kung (Chee gung), which translates as breath work. Both traditions place a large emphasis on correct breathing as the key to developing a harmonious internal health symbiosis which brings about and maintains health stasis. Both modalities incorporate similar approaches to restore what they call natural breathing to the exponent.
In Qigong and Pranayama natural breathing is a combination of abdominal breathing and several other factors (the two other major components being correct breath rate and relaxation). Another name used is child breathing or baby breathing. This name was chosen because these practices believe that babies and young children express the full form and function of natural breathing. The form being relaxed abdominal breathing and the function is boundless energy.
According to the Chinese tradition of Qigong, natural breathing balances and regulates Yin Qi (chee) and Yang Qi in the body; in this context acidity is Yin and alkali is Yang. Acidity/alkali balance is what determines our pH levels; a balanced pH level in humans is one that is slightly more alkali than acidic. If our pH balance is either too high or low, disease can more readily occur. To find the mechanism of how this balance comes about we need to look at the common factor, not the Yin or the Yang, but the Qi. Qi equates to air with many connotations, but in this it is meant literally. How can air balance our pH levels?
In recent times there have been several innovators in the newly named breathwork field which has allowed modern scientists to perform studies into the benefits of abdominal breathing. These studies have shown that correct breathing will leave the body with the proper levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) which is produced naturally within the blood cells. CO2 plays an essential role in the internal breathing function (when oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged on a cellular level) and forms what is called the carbonate buffer. The CO2 mixes with bicarbonate ions and carbonic acid and creates the carbonate buffer. This buffer regulates pH balance by counteracting both the hydrogen (which decreases pH) and hydroxide (which increases pH) ions in the blood.
The methodology in Qigong or Pranayama requires the practitioner to hold and/or move in specific postures while breathing in a specific manner. The intent is that through continued practice the respiratory muscles become stronger and your breathing rate is reprogrammed through consistent practice to alter the existing muscle memory.
While breathing exercises are used regularly today, with successful experiences in things such as stress reduction, asthma, pain management and a plethora of other ailments, the path to true health stasis comes from diligent practice. When someone looks to relieve some stress and they take a session with a breathworker, they give themselves a moment respite from their woes. The purpose of these systems, Qigong and Pranayama, is to transform the person into a being that will stand in the stress and strain unaffected by it and maintain health stasis, regardless of the external situations.
Breathing is the most important thing we do for life. There is an old Taoist (Dow-ist) saying, "Breathe for life or breathe for death; it's that simple."
About the author
Sifu Simon Chong is dedicated to helping people with their personal growth and improving their health through the Taoist arts. He believes that we all have a path to liberation from disease that can be followed once we know how to see it.
He is well practiced in the austere Taoist methods of attaining and maintaining good health and promoting longevity. He can be contacted at sifusimon@internal harmonykungfu.com or or at www.internalharmonykungfu.com