Explanation of diagram
Abdominal breathing should be used in meditation. There are two kinds of abdominal breathing:
- Straight abdominal breathing (順呼吸): breath in route = A, breath out route = B
- Reverse abdominal breathing (逆呼吸): breath in route = B, breath out route = A
- The straight type is performed mainly through the action of tightening and relaxing the diaphragm.
- The reverse type is performed mainly through the action of opening and
closing of the rib cage to the side and to the back (the front rib cage should remain calm).
- A practitioner can choose either type. But when practicing microcosmic circulation (小周天) where breath-in shall drive chi up the spinal cord 督脈 (and breath-out, chi down along the front 任脈), it is more natural to use the reverse type.
- Breathing can either be strong (武火) or calm (文火). The former is more powerful and typically should be used in situations where power is needed, like microcosmic circulation (as in yoga or powerful stand like Golden Turtle). The latter should be used in calm meditation (like when in practicing chi-balancing in Zhan Zhuang (站樁), and like when in practicing bathing (沐浴 - point-meditation) at points danzhong and mingmen (see diagram for exact position).
- Holding breath for long period of time will put too much pressure to the heart and is therefore not recommended (natural holds between breath-in and breath-out is of course fine and is actually needed for a more efficient practice).
- Breathing should be through nose only, except in practicing six healing sounds when breathing out (of course!) is through the month.
- Breathing should be used to facilitate chi-balancing as in Zhan Zhuang with or without focus. When breathing with focus (用意), the primary focus shall be centering (守中) and/or at dantian (意守丹田), the former will involve the third eye (aperture between the eyebrows 竅).
- Advanced practitioners may also find this post of mine interesting: Advanced breathing techniques in Taoist meditation
- Full breathing techniques can be read HERE.