All of my life, I have been in love with the concept of detox and exercise by keeping fit, flexible and energized, and have taught many aerobics classes (being the Jane Fonda of Scotland in the early 80’s with matching headbands and leg warmers…. Oh yes, I even had the hairdo! Lordy….). However, as my passion for Traditional Chinese Medicine deepened and I started my studies with Chiball, I have been in love with this beautiful way of working my body out daily. For decades, I continue to have energy of someone half my age, and Mr. Tara calls me his ‘energizer bunny.’
Detox and Exercise for Health and Longevity: Stretch with me daily on my video:
Breathing Aids in Detoxification
The special abdominal breathing that is practiced in chi kung can regulate the body, mind, emotions, energy and spirit, all of which are interconnected. Most people already know that taking a deep breath through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth helps to reduce stress, demonstrating that regulating the breath can exert a calming effect on a restless mind and untamed emotions.
Chi Kung abdominal breathing activates the lower tan tien energy center located in the center of the belly, and enables chi to travel from there to all the other parts of the body. These breathing exercises help generate and pump chi around the body, as well as massaging and strengthening the internal organs.
Chi Kung breathing is usually practised in various standing postures initially. Science proved long ago that many viruses cannot survive in oxygen. Improving our breathing habits and increasing our daily intake of oxygen must, therefore, have a significant effect on our immune system.
Our breath is a sign post clearly indicating either the degree of resistance and suppression or the receptiveness and expression of our emotions. Fullness of breath demonstrates our ease and equanimity with the natural flow of life. Inhalation is an active process, exhalation is passive: a ‘letting go’ of tension. This natural expansion and contraction is connected to our ability to expand and contract naturally with life and all its challenges.
It is estimated that the average person breathes about 14-26 breaths per minute. Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Kung and many other ancient eastern exercise disciplines discovered that breathing that is smooth and even is the link to us having a strong immune system, a calm mind and stable emotions.
Physiologically, deep breathing cleanses our active air sacs of pollutants, by allowing more oxygen to reach the lungs, replacing stale air which has gathered there through shallow breathing. So if you control your breath – you control your life.
I hope you will soon start to feel the benefits from this form of breath work, as daily practise of mindful breathing is a significant contribution to the ultimate goal: being healthy and happy!
Within the “ChiBall” method (which I adore teaching), emphasis on breathing is of paramount importance. It is the first gateway for learning and becoming aware of the tension being carried within the body. As you start to incorporate this short exercise programme into your life, you will hopefully feel and become aware of these bands of tension beginning to dissolve.
Philosophy of Breathing in Tai Chi
Tai Chi, within the ChiBall method, is used to gently warm the body, build awareness and calm the mind. The ChiBall method uses Tai Chi breathing to bring flow and relaxation with movements, stirring and moving the chi while reflecting the rising yang energy.
Reconnecting a person with awareness of their own unique breath is the greatest gift we can offer anybody. The breath is capable of rejuvenating and cleansing every aspect of our whole being, and it is the key for all of us to experience peace and harmony in mind and body.
Correct breathing has a profound effect on the state of our minds and bodies, so our ability to concentrate is determined by how well we breathe. Years of poor postural habits suffocates the diaphragm, impeding our oxygen uptake. Poor breathing also stiffens the rib cage and back, depletes the energy of the body system, diminishes our full mind potential and dampens our spirits!
In order to feel fully alive, calm and peaceful, breathing needs to be full and relaxed. The most common impediment to relaxed breathing is muscular tension. If tension is held in the abdomen, the natural movement of the diaphragm will be restricted.
If we are burdened by unexpressed emotions such as fear, anxiety, grief, sadness or disappointments which all accumulate as turmoil and conflict, this has a profound effect on our breathing. Emotions are best understood as unexpressed feelings or blocked energy (energy being expression) which then take refuge somewhere in the body. These unexpressed feelings “cling” to the body, which over time weighs down our entire system.
Yoga, Tai Chi, and Chi Kung exercises work on freeing the body of habitual tension. Breathing exercises and meditation helps free the mind of conflict, negative thoughts and emotions. Eventually, when we acquire the ability to detach the mind completely from thought, we will also experience a body which has returned to a state of complete and replenishing relaxation.
Keep smiling and breathing, and subscribe to my newsletter for great recipes, educational material and details of upcoming programs and workshops.
Have fun and live as if all life matters.
In good health,
A long-time vegan, lover of animals, nature and life and passionate about human ecology. As an eternal optimist, increasing the number of people worldwide to switch to a wholefood, plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle is her mission. Together with her husband Bill Tara, they have created The Human Ecology Project.