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tai chi breathing basic guidelines

graphic of lungs Tai chi breathing is taught in several varieties with the two most common being abdominal breathing and reverse abdominal breathing.

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We read in one of the health surveys that claims 75% of all people use upper chest breathing - contributing to all sorts of illnesses and even weight problems.

Now we're always a bit suspicious of statistics because you never know how they were collected - or even what the question was. But in this case Rosie's experience of students makes her say the number seems low ....

In general upper chest breathing is shallow leading to an overall lack of oxygen and contributing to stress. You can tell if you are a shallow breather if you upper chest and shoulders tend to move when you breathe.

Tai chi breathing is usually abdominal  meaning that your diaphragm expands and pull down the lungs to give them greater capacity to inhale air.

And normally you would breathe in and out through the nose, having said that, we've met many teachers that say your mouth should be open.

Both camps agree that you should place the tip of the tongue on the upper palate behind the front teeth to complete the energy circuit (microcosmic orbit).

The slower and deeper you breathe the more relaxed you will feel. The important thing is to keep the breathing pattern smooth and regular.

Our breathing directions are shown in blue and will be in or out. You keep doing what the instruction says until the next breathing instruction changes it.

raise arms over head:


So when we say breathe in we don't mean take one huge gulp of air! And the same goes for breathing out - don't just go 'whoosh'.

We mean that you should start to inhale or exhale at gentle regular pace.

As a general rule of thumb in tai chi and qigong you breathe in when raising the arms or body and out when lowering the arms or body.

You should always work within your limits and not try to force your breathing.

We practice to qigong music and use the rhythm of the music to dictate the speed of our moves. Find some nice tai chi music and get comfortable.



If you find the tai chi instructions unclear or if you have any queries about the exercises or have some favourite qigong exercises that you would like to share then contact us .