Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday Morning Tai Chi - reverse breathing

One of my favorite technological activities is Tai Chi. I've been studying with my current teacher in Pittsburgh for about 20 years. It's interesting to see both how people change and how attitudes/styles of teaching change over that period. But more importantly, what things remain the same. The Tai Chi.

One of the more interesting aspects of Tai Chi is reverse breathing. Studying this assumes that you've studied breathing at all, and have internalized it into your practice in a big way. This is generally referred to as abdominal breathing, focusing on the abdomen as the principal breathing muscle, and on the abdomen (or, lower, the dan tien) as the target for inhales, pooling of chi. Yang Style tai chi emphasizes breathing with movements: yin movements are associated with inhales, yang movements are associated with exhales - always breathing, always moving.

In beginning to learn Wu style from Larry, my teacher, he says that breathing is less emphasized than in Yang. But, interestingly, in the warm-up exercises (which I'll list later for you), one set of four exercises emphasize reverse breathing: inhale on a yin movement (turning inward), exhale on a yang movement (turning outward). Okay, now I've confused myself. Which is the reversal? Time to admit this to my teacher later today! :-)

Some of my Tai Chi links for your perusal:

My Geocities RainForest page.
My teacher's current blog.
A nascent blog started earlier this year in prep for a related (but unstarted) podcast.