What if I told you there was a simple way to increase your body’s natural store of Qi (or energy)? Something that you could do all by yourself, with zero expense, and that requires you do nothing more than breathe?
Intrigued… but wondering why you’d want to increase your Qi? How about to remove stagnant energy that can lead to inflammation and illness in your body?
Now we’re talking, right? Imagine the benefits to your health, mental performance and longevity!
How does Qi work?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the concept that lifeforce, Qi or Prana powers your body, flowing through your meridians like water in a river.
When a part of your body gets sick, the Qi in that part of your body is stagnant or depleted. Healthy circulation of Qi to that area has gotten blocked, for a very long time.
What is Medicinal Breathwork?
Qigong, or what I call Medicinal Breathwork, is an easy and widely used method for clearing these blockages and revitalizing weak or sick parts of your body. It has literally saved my life, which is the reason it’s now my mission to share it with everyone.
There is absolutely nothing new about Medicinal Breathwork. In fact, it’s as old and unbuzzy as it gets. 5,000 years in fact. It’s the most common form of meditation in China and all over the Far East.
The reason you haven’t heard more about it is threefold: 1) The majority of available literature and instruction is in Chinese. 2) There are thousands of different schools of Qigong. 3) Many qigong masters and schools make a living discrediting each other and claiming they are best (to the detriment of everyone, sadly).
Making this insanely beneficial form of breathwork simple to practice and accessible to all is my goal.
Even though I first practiced Medicinal Breathwork when I was 16, the real reason I’m obsessed is because of my own medical mishaps which left me with staples in my lungs, a screw in my jaw, a PICC line for pumping antibiotics into my heart, and devastated gut flora.
As fate had it, these misadventures helped me discover my true passion. I travelled around the world learning and training with masters of Qigong, Taichi and plant medicine to heal my broken body. A native Chinese speaker and scholar of the classics, I coaxed my teachers and delved into ancient texts like the I-Ching and Tao Te Ching to unlock their secrets.
But enough about me.
How does Medicinal Breathwork affect your body?
When you get stressed, anxious or agitated, your fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system) activates. Your body produces cortisol and adrenaline, blood pressure and heart rate go up, your breath gets short and rapid, and non-critical functions like reproduction, immunity and digestion are suspended.
Sound unhealthy? It really is. Sadly, most people experience this chronically as I did for a decade. I can attest it will lead to accelerated deterioration and disease.
The good news is Medicinal Breathwork turns on your rest and digest response (parasympathetic nervous system) like a switch, whenever you want.
Your heart rate slows, intestinal and gland activity increase, muscles in the GI tract activate and your blood pressure drops. All this leads to improved gut, endocrine, heart and emotional health, improved performance and longevity.
You become your own doctor, on call anytime at no expense. Sound good? Well, the method couldn’t be simpler.
How to practice Medicinal Breathwork
It couldn’t be simpler: Intentionally do all the things that activate your rest and digest response. Here are 3 simple steps.
1. Breathe Naturally
Don’t think about your breath or deliberately make it wispy, extended and long. Just lightly place intent on your exhale.
Why exhale? People sigh in relief (exhale) and gasp in terror (inhale). One leads to rest and digest and the other to fight or flight. Try it for yourself.
2. Sink Your Qi
With each exhale, place your intent in your gut or sacral chakra (2 inches below your belly button and in between the front and back of your abdomen). Imagine a light bulb going on there with every exhale or try any other visualization that resonates with you..
Why? In fight or flight, all the Qi or energy in your body rises up towards your head and heart. Your face might get red and head feel swollen as your heart-rate increases. By guiding your Qi back down, you are allowing it to fuel your rest and digest organs.
3. Release Tension
With each exhale, find and release a bit more tension. This can happen area by area or totally randomly. Just be mindful of the sensation. It’s the way your whole face feels when unclenching your teeth.
In each part of your body where tension is released, blockages open, stagnation is cleared and the flow of Qi improves. Health and vitality returns.
Want to know more?
After having tried many different types of breathwork, this is one of the easiest types to master, incorporate into your life and see immediate results from.
I should note, however, that this is only a very basic explanation of a very powerful practice – something that can fit into an introductory post.
Sitting position, hand position, tongue position (a bandha), when to practice, and understanding what’s happening to your Qi, are all important for getting the amazing results that anyone can access.
I’m committed to transferring all this to you in a thoughtful manner. Stay tuned!
Written by Simon Cheng, Pique Tea Founder