I’ve been practicing Aikido for 12 years and have learnt many amazing things including Ki Breathing from my Sensei. We often do Ki breathing for a small amount of time in an Aikido lesson but the real benefit comes from doing it everyday or when you are stressed or ill.
Ki breathing involves slowly breathing in and out from your centre (Hara), which is located 2 inches below your naval, whilst imagining a flow of Ki (life energy) entering and exiting your body with your breath. It has an excellent calming effect, especially when combined with a meditation, and helps to keep you healthy or heal you if you are unwell because of the increased flow of Ki (and oxygen) to the whole of your system.
How to do it
- Ideally you should sit in a kneeling posture called Seiza (the front row of black belts in the photo below are sitting in Seiza. That’s me second in from the left at the front.) However, if you have not sat like this very often, it will probably quite painful so you might want to start like that and then swap to cross-legged. Keep practising sitting in Seiza until you build up endurance.
- You can do Ki breathing sitting in a chair or standing up or even lying down, but you may be more likely to fall asleep if you are lying down
- Make sure that you are relaxed but not slumping; feel dynamic and alert.
- Ideally you should be in a quiet place so that you can concentrate. However, once you get good at Ki breathing you can do it anywhere with your eyes open such as on a bus if you don’t mind people thinking “what are they doing?”
- Close your eyes and take a big breath in to start.
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth making an “ah” sound, like you’ve just had a sip of a nice cup of tea. Your mouth should be quite wide open and the ah sound should be long and steady. The sound is made so that you know your breath is consistent.
- As you breathe out imagine Ki (energy/life force/spirit) from your centre travelling up your body and exiting your mouth and going onwards and outwards to infinity. Also feel any negative energy, feelings, worries or illness leaving your system.
- When you have finished breathing out lean forward slightly and imagine that you are still breathing out for a few seconds.
- Then close your mouth and breathe in slowly through your nose. The temptation will be to suddenly inhale a lot of air but you need to control your mind and body so that you do it slowly.
- As you breath in imagine Ki from the Universe flowing down into your centre, healing and revitilising every cell in your system and filling you full of positive fresh energy.
- When you have finished breathing in lean back up to the starting position and imagine that you are still breathing in for a few seconds.
- Then repeat at least 10 times. This may take quite a while because ultimately you should be aiming at 45-60 seconds for a complete cycle, but that may take a bit of practice to achieve.
- Always finish with an out breath, just breathe naturally after that. You may want to finish off with a meditation of your choice because you’ll be in a particularly receptive state.
After you have finished the Ki breathing, just slowly become aware of your physical body once again and then slowly open your eyes and become aware of your surroundings. You may feel quite spaced out but you should feel very relaxed, calm, happy and alive!
Ki breathing is a great start to the day, or a great end to the day because it can help you to get the most from your sleep. Also if you need to take a break from work or whatever in the middle of the day, even 5 minutes of Ki breathing can help. Try it out instead of going on Facebook or Youtube (or having a cigarette) next time you want a break. Enjoy!