Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The 6 Healing Breaths - #3

Circle the hands out to the sides

he third breath in the 6 Healing Breaths is the huu breath so described because of the sound you make as you exhale. The 6 Healing Breaths is a routine from Chi Kung, a centuries old practise that combines exercise with traditional Chinese medicine. Chi Kung is closely associated with martial arts. In fact, they’ve come to be so intertwined that it’s often hard to tell them apart.

Martial arts and Chi Kung share similar goals – the development and the circulation of energy, balance of mind and body, harmony with the environment, and longevity.

Though simple in execution, each of the 6 breaths has a profound effect on the body. Let’s take a look at how breath #3 is performed –

1.  Take one step backward from where you stood for breath #2. Now you're standing at the centre of the four directions. You’re still facing South. Feet should be comfortably positioned about shoulder width apart. (You can also perform this breath while sitting in a chair).

Your back should be straight but relaxed. Allow your tailbone to sink ever so slightly and then curve slightly forward. The shoulders should be relaxed and the chin pointed slightly downward in order to align the back of the neck with the rest of the spine. Your top of your head should feel as though its suspended from the ceiling by a string. The hips should feel open, so that they can act as a conduit between your torso and your legs.

2.  Circle your hands slowly out to the sides and up in front. Inhale slowly while doing this.

Place hands on the left side of the abdomen

3.  Place both hands one over the other on the left side of the abdomen (near the location of the stomach). Exhale very slowly while making the sound huu. Breath and sound should merge into one. Please don’t force the breath out; relax the breath out as if it were flowing out from the entire body.

4.  Once both breath and sound have reached their end, open out your arms and inhale once again. Repeat the cycle of opening your arms and folding your hands over the left side of your abdomen. Exhale and make the sound huu every time your hands combine to touch your abdomen.

5.  Remain in your spot facing South. Repeat this breath cycle either in groups of 3, 6, 12, 18, 36…and so on, even up to 108 times if you wish! (Most people perform about 6 to 12 repetitions).

The following are some additional points to consider -

DIRECTION – at the centre but still facing South in the late afternoon. The sun has begun to drop from its zenith.  

ELEMENT – the Chinese 5 Element Theory, the interaction of the elements wood, fire, earth, metal and water which is central to all types of traditional medicine such as acupuncture as well as feng shui, philosophy, military strategy, martial arts, etc. The element of the huu breath is earth.

Yellow phoenix

YIN ORGAN – the spleen. The spleen is associated with the earth element. The sound huu massages the spleen.

YANG ORGAN – the stomach. Also associated with earth.  The sound huu massages the stomach.

POSITIVE EMOTION – fairness and openness.

NEGATIVE EMOTION – worry and anxiety. We’ve gone from anger to hatred in the earlier breaths. At the mid-point in life, hatred has begun to erode both mind and body leaving worry and anxiety in its place.

COLOUR – yellow/blue. As you breathe, imagine your spleen and stomach in these colours. Yellow is the colour of earth, and of the harvest.

TIME – late afternoon, late summer. A time of harvest. I teach my students that the harvest of kindness and happiness is fairness and openness; the harvest of anger and hatred is worry and anxiety.

ENERGY – a stabilizing form of energy.

ANIMAL – the yellow phoenix.

The huu breath helps with the following systems - digestive, lymphatic and muscular. It also helps to store and cleanse the blood.

I’ll post the fourth breath in the series within the next few days.

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