Chinese Breathing Exercises

I joined a class in early Spring and have been doing these exercises since then, almost daily with a couple of periods when I took a break. A Chinese man living in Cambridge started the classes as a means of helping people build up their breath to combat the effects of COVID-19.

The following is a precis of what the teacher explained to us, together with my own experiences.


We can all agree, I think, that it is good to be aware of the fact that we are dependent on nature around us for our breath. At the same time, the fact is that in daily life we tend to take shallow breaths, and rarely spend time breathing deeply. Modern life is fast paced, and if we don’t take time to relax and give ourselves some ‘me’ time, then we get caught up in the pace of things around us and consequently we breath poorly.


It’s very simple, and the key always is to relax.

The intention of the breathing exercise is to draw in a good breath and let it out in its own time, opening up the chest cavity and letting an aaaah sound escape loudly with an open mouth. Imagine a baby making the sound, not controlling the sound but letting it out.

We breathe in and make the sound on the out-breath, and an out-breath can last for up to 25 seconds or more. The tendency is for the note to rise as we breathe out.

A session can be for twenty minutes, or half an hour, or longer. In the sessions I attend we have arrived at 20 minutes breathing, 10 minutes silence, 10 minutes breathing, and another 10 minutes silence.

During a breathing session of twenty minutes or however long it is, we build one breath on another and increase the strength of the sound as we feel more energy circulating on our body.

In doing so we put more oxygen into ourselves and we massage our organs through the resonance we create as we breathe out making the aah sound.

It is not a good idea to sit on a very soft cushion or on a settee that allows one to sink in. Better to sit on a reasonably firm surface and to rest on one’s tail bone with body relaxed.

We sit relaxed, with head and spine in line, without leaning the head forward or back, with feet on the ground and toes slightly pointed inwards to create a closed system for the energy to circulate. Or if one is sitting on the ground, then cross legged to achieve that same closed loop of energy.

During the breathing, observe whether the breath is shallow or deep, narrow or broad, smooth or blocked. Observe whether the different parts of the body are relaxed or not. Also the transition to the next breath, whether it is rushed or whether it happens in its own time.

Energy increases during a session, and we carry that energy into the tasks of our daily lives.

It pays to direct that energy consciously, to form an intention, so as to prevent the energy gained from the session from dissipating leaving one feeling dissatisfied.

Ask yourself what you want to achieve rather than what do you think you ‘should’ achieve. And choose something achievable rather than reaching for the stars. See how your daily life is affected by the increased energy.

If interested, message me for details.

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