The Art of Breathing
Tadao Ogura, M.D.
X. Optional Breathing Exercises
Although consistent practice is the key to actualizing the benefits of Controlled Breathing, some of you may "want to do more." In this case, you can practice more than twice a day, or practice more than ten-minutes per session. Alternatively, you can practice (if you have the discipline to practice on a consistent basis) some of the following exercises which have been handed down from generation to generation among Zen monks.
These exercises will help you to further develop your Ki. It is recommended that you master Circular Breathing before attempting these exercises.
1. Tai-Soku (Fetal Breathing)
Tai-Soku is so named because it simulates the breathing of a fetus in the womb. This exercise should be practiced daily in the morning hours between midnight and noon. The exercise is designed to rejuvenate the Ki in your body, replacing "old Ki" with "new Ki" and is a good exercise to start off the day. It can also be practiced at any time during the day you need to feel "rejuvenated." This breathing technique may be practiced in a supine position, in bed or on the floor, or in a sitting position. Of course, you may practice it in the standing position.
To perform the exercise, breathe in slowly and fully through the nose, taking Ki into the body. Try not to make any sound at all while you breathe during this exercise. Most people will not be able to breathe in fully without making some sound, however, and it is more important to take full breaths than it is to do it silently. When you become more adept at the exercise, you will learn to be able to breathe silently.
Next, hold your breath and count slowly to 120, concentrating on holding the Ki in the body, and not letting any of it escape. Keep your mouth closed and anus closed so Ki does not leak out unconsciously.
Finally, breathe out slowly (again, as silently as possible) but concentrate on breathing out as little air (and Ki) as possible, so that the Ki stays in the body.
Repeat this cycle for at least 20 to 30 minutes.