Breathing movements 3&4

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    Anonymous
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    I have Bruce’s books and the Dragon & Tiger DVD, plus have been working with the online course and supplemental material from Bruce there. I am trying to learn the breathing patterns for each movement. Breathing is not addressed in Bill’s portion of the course. Bruce does not address breathing in the online supplemental material for movements 3 & 4. Relying on the book, it states that for movements 3&4, exhale is longer than inhale (vol 1, p. 18). However, the instructions for those movements in the book show more of the movement happening during the inhale. Thus, the only way the exhale could be longer is if the portion of the movement that takes place during the exhale is done much more slowly. None of the online demos or the demos on the DVD show this to be the case, however. Can anyone clarify?

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    Hi Vaughn,

    I can understand why you are a bit confused about this.

    The reference you cited on Page 18 of Volume 1 is in the section that explains core Longevity Breathing principles. Since this is only a brief introduction to Longevity Breathing there are many aspects of its basic practice that are not covered. Just so you know, when you practice LB by itself, after a time of practice you begin to even out your breath so that the time duration of your exhales and inhales become even. To do this well requires that you inhale and exhale the same volume of air.

    That said, there are many different ways to apply LB, depending on particular circumstances or needs. What is being discussed on Page 18 is that you can ensure that you are fully exhaling by practicing different patterns of inhaling and exhaling. The first pattern presented is the one you referred to, which is to exhale a little more than you inhale. You are correct that the Page 18 says this pattern is used in Moves 1, 3 and 4.

    Because Volume 1 is a basic introduction to Dragon & Tiger, it doesn’t discuss many of the subtleties of the art, either in the section you referred to or in the sections where the breathing patterns are described for each movement. For example, what does it mean to exhale more than you inhale? Is that in terms of time spent on each? Or does it mean the volume of air involved in each?

    The point of the discussion you referenced in the section on LB really is discussing the volume of air. Be sure to exhale a bit more in terms of volume, regardless of the timing pattern involved, whether it is Moves 1, 3 and 4 as you noted, or Moves 2, 5, 6, or 7 as is further discussed there.

    Think about the timing of Move 1. You breathe in coordination with one hand, inhaling as it rises and exhaling as it falls. Ideally the timing of each is equal, up and down. But as you exhale you might want to ensure you get a full exhale by slowing down your movement a bit so that you inhale for say 4 seconds, and exhale for 5. What I’m saying is the exact timing pattern is a bit variable, depending on what you are trying to get out of the exercise. However, you wouldn’t want to shift the basic timing of an exercise too much. For example, for Move 1 you wouldn’t want to go so far as to breathe in for 4 seconds and out for 6 or 7.

    The breathing patterns in Moves 1, 3, and 4 are similar in the sense that the amount of time spent on the inhale cycles and the exhale cycles should be approximately the same. Actually, this is only true for Movement 3 if you follow the Option B breathing pattern (see the Volume 1 book, page 150). There you inhale as you trace up your leg, exhale as you trace the dai mai backward, inhale as your trace the dai mai forward, and exhale as you trace down your leg. In general, the duration of each inhale and exhale should be about the same. However, if you want to make sure you exhale more volume than you inhale, then you can slow the movements slightly during each exhale to make them last a bit longer than each inhale.

    Timing is difficult to discern by only following the diagrams for the Moves in the Volume 1 book (for Move 1, see pages 50 to 51; Move 3, pages 148 to 151; and Move 4, page 162 to 163). For example, as you pointed out, the Move 4 diagrams show much more movement dedicated to the inhales than the exhales, with the exhales only occurring in the last little bit of the movement to each side. But what isn’t shown or discussed if that as you exhale, you move very slowly and elongate the time spent exhaling to 3 or 4 seconds.

    This is discussed in Volume 2, page 80. Naturally in Volume 2 many more subtleties are discussed for the breathing, qi work, and physical movements than in Volume 1.

    When writing books or making videos you always have to make judgements about how much detail to include. Thus less detail is presented in Volume 1 than in Volume 2. And because breathing in unison with the exercises can be very subtle and confusing, I chose to leave it out completely in the 10-week online course. That way people don’t become frustrated or overwhelmed with the breathing patterns when they are just trying to learn the basic movements.

    When teaching, I tell people that if you are a beginner, the first thing I encourage you to learn about breathing is to breathe in whatever way allows you to relax most easily. Then when you can relax as you breathe, do the movements and notice whether and when you hold your breath. Don’t even try to stop holding. Just notice when you do. Then after you can do that, you can start to try to let go of holding, wherever you can, with no strain.

    After that, I teach the breathing patterns laid out in the books, and address their subtleties as we explore the patterns. At that point there are always questions such as yours, Vaughn, so I’m glad you asked it. I encourage you to get Volume 2 and read up on the patterns. Even better I encourage you to seek instrucation with an Energy Arts Dragon & Tiger certified Level 2 or 3 instructor, so they can answer your questions without your having to read a long dissertation as I have written here.

    Enjoy your practice,

    Bill

     

     

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