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Chi/Prana Breathing: What You Need to Know

Health & Wellness
Last Updated Sep 17, 2020

We all know that breathing is necessary just to stay alive, but how many of us have thought about the other important things that occur when we breathe?  Chi/prana or life force body enters the body through the breath, and correct breathing means that this energy grows stronger within the body.  Read on to find out more about why prana and chi breathing is so important for us.

Why Prana Breathing is so Vital

Pranayama is one of the five principles of yoga.  Put simply, Pranayama is the science of breath control, as proper breathing from a yogic point of view brings more oxygen to the blood and the brain and it also helps to control prana or life energy.  Breathing supplies the body and all of its various tissues with oxygen and it also helps to rid the body of waste products and toxins.  Oxygen is essential as it allows for the proper functioning of the brain, nerves, glands and other internal organs.  We can last for only a few minutes without oxygen.  The brain requires more oxygen than any other bodily organ and if it is deficient, people may feel mentally sluggish, think negative thoughts, be depressed, and even suffer from vision or hearing problems in the long term.

We breathe too shallowly and too quickly, not taking in enough oxygen and not breathing out enough carbon dioxide.  This results in oxygen starvation in the body and toxic build ups start to occur.  Shallow breathing also does not allow the lungs to work enough so they actually start to lose some of their function.  Our breath has become fast and shallow because we are always in a hurry, modern life is stressful, we are overly emotional, and we are quick to excite or anger.  Modern life also means that there is less need to breathe deeply so we develop a habit of shallow breathing.  An indoor working environment means that we are exposed to more pollution, causing the body to instinctively breathe less.

It is vital to breathe through the nose and, indeed, this is the first rule of breathing correctly.  Most people actually breathe through the mouth.  The nose has defense mechanisms in order to prevent impurities and overly cold air from entering the body.  It also helps to absorb prana from the air.  If you breathe through the mouth, you are robbing yourself of an abundant source of free life force energy.  This is a major factor in lowered disease resistance and it also impairs the functioning of your nervous system and vital glands.  Correct breathing techniques improves your health, your life span, and also enables you to attain super conscious states, with enough training.  However, the breathing techniques must be done correctly and habitually to have the desired effect.

The Importance of Chi Breathing

Chi means energy in Chinese and it is the life force which is a part of all life.  It is the same energy as prana but different cultures view and define chi differently.  Chi is not actually breath but the power that makes it possible for people to breathe.  It is everywhere, including in the oxygen that we breathe. 

Put simply, within the body, chi is like a battery that occasionally needs to be recharged.  While the chi in the universe in inexhaustible, the body does need fresh chi in order to maintain its vitality.  By exchanging your chi with the universe chi, you will feel healthy and vigorous.  Energising the body with chi allows it to fight off illness and maintain good health and the secret to replenishing chi lies in the breathing.

Breathing through the nose is the only method that allows the body to process and use chi effectively.  The nose is a defense system for the body, stopping bacteria, impurities, and cold air from entering.  Inhaling causes fresh oxygen and chi to enter the body while exhaling expels carbon dioxide carrying waste products and toxins from the body.  Chi is also expelled but if the chi is expelled through the mouth, the chi energy just goes back into the world.  Breathing out through the nose completes a closed circuit, transferring the chi to the dan tien or hara, which lies about three finger widths below the umbilicus.  With each breath, more chi enters the body and cycles down to the dan tien, growing stronger and stronger.

Originally published on Jul 01, 2008

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills… There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind… So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself. — MARCUS AURELIUS