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February 27, 2006

"Ki Breathing" by Koichi Tohei Sensei (25)

This article is translation of Koichi Tohei sensei's book, "Ki breathing (Ki no Kokyuho)". We will upload new article every Monday.

Shinichi Tohei

4. Breathe in naturally

Let’s practice inhaling next.
This is called “kyuki”. This means to bring the Ki of the Universe into our bodies.

Keeping your upper body slightly forward, start to breathe in calmly from the tip of the nose similar to how you would smell flowers.
At this time, do not think about the length of your inhale or exhale.
Some people have difficulty in breathing because they inhale quickly. In this case, imagine that your breath fills up your body first to your toes, then leg, hip, chest, and finally head. Your mind concentrates on other parts of your body so your chest and lungs will not become tense.
When people load on to a bus, people need to begin filling from the back of the bus first. If people stop at the entrance, no more people can get on the bus.
Many people put strength in their upper body when they breathe in directly into their chest. If you think about lungs and chest, you may become tense and in just a few seconds have difficulty in breathing naturally.
Breathe in calmly and just let your breath go. The breath becomes infinitely calm. When your breath becomes calm enough, return to the original position. At that time, you will feel air completely filling your body up to your head.
At this time, count “one, two, three”. When your breath becomes calm, open your mouth and start to exhale.
It is easy to become tense when breathing in. First, practice exhale well and understand how to exhale naturally while relaxed, then you will be able to breathe in comfortably.

Our brain uses about 20% of the oxygen in our body.
When practicing Ki breathing, our Ki extends from the tip of our toes to the top of our head. Therefore, the more you do Ki breathing, the more your brain will become active. If you practice Ki breathing for fifteen minutes daily, it will improve your health.

Keeping your upper body slightly forward, start to breathe in calmly from the tip of the nose.
The breath becomes infinitely calm. When your breath becomes calm enough, return to the original position.

5. Exhale naturally, Inhale naturally

Now, let’s repeat exhale and inhale. For people who study Ki breathing, please clearly understand the meaning of “Exhale naturally, breathe in naturally”.
Even if you can exhale and inhale comfortably, if you repeat them again and again, you may forget to coordinate mind and body and become one with the universe. If you exhale with oneness of mind and body, your inhale will come in naturally. This will leave you with the feeling that you are one with the universe.

Many people misunderstand that and hold their breath intentionally between the exhale and inhale when practicing Ki Breathing.
If you stop your breath by yourself, your body will tense. If you tense your body, it is difficult to breathe and you cannot continue it for a long time.
If you control exhalation and hold your breath, air will not come in to you naturally. This is one of the reasons why many people feel “inhaling is more difficult than exhalation.”
You should not stop or pull Ki. Ki breathing means to exchange Ki with the Universe. By extending Ki, you can get Ki naturally.

If you have trouble breathing, there is probably something incorrect with your breathing. In this case, you should not bear it. You should review your posture with oneness of mind and body. Then, return to the starting point.
In addition to that, please check if you really exhale and inhale naturally using Ki tests. If you exhale and breathe in unnaturally, you will feel tension in your body. If you are tested, you will know your posture is unstable.
Like your regular breathing, if you do not think about doing Ki breathing, this is the best. If you are tested at that moment, your posture will be stable.
When you practice Ki breathing, please do not forget “exhale naturally, inhale naturally.”
When our body becomes tense, it is difficult to realize it. However, if we are tested, we will be able to know whether we are relaxed or tense.
Gradually, you will be able to realize which part of your body is tense without being tested. When you think that you cannot do Ki breathing correctly, even when you try to relax completely, you may not be truly relaxed or your body may become tense unconsciously. Therefore, Ki testing is very important.
“Mind moves body” Therefore, body will never become tense if mind is relaxed.
If your body becomes tense during Ki breathing, your mind is doing something unnatural. An example is if you try to control your breath intentionally.
It is important to understand that when your mind is calm and relaxed, that this will give your body more energy.

There is a saying “Musoku no Kokyu (literally, breathing without breath)” when samurais fought with real swords.
Breathing without breath does not mean an absence of breath.
In days of old, when Samurai fought, if their opponent could read his breath, the opponent could also read his movement. Therefore, by calming the mind, Samurais had to master very calm breathing without visibly breathing. This is breathing without breath.
Ki breathing is similar to this breathing.

When I practice Ki Breathing, I exhale 50 to 60 seconds.
It is not good for your health if you force your breath to be longer.
Please understand well that if you relax completely, your breath becomes longer naturally. The purpose of Ki breathing is not to train lung capacity, but practice to relax.

“Nagaiki (longevity)” means to breathe long in Japanese. It is natural that you will have a significant difference on your mental and physical health by doing Ki breathing.
Exhale straight forward with sound of "HA"and calmly as much as possible.


February 20, 2006

"Ki Breathing" by Koichi Tohei Sensei (24)

This article is translation of Koichi Tohei sensei's book, "Ki breathing (Ki no Kokyuho)". We will upload new article every Monday.

Shinichi Tohei

Put Ki breathing into practice

Let’s check your sitting posture. It is better if you have a partner to perform Ki testing on you.
You need to practice Ki tests because it is difficult to realize your own tension by yourself. You may not have a partner to check.
In this case, please test yourself.

1. Check posture with oneness of mind and body
To correct your posture, first, move your shoulders up and down. Find the position that allows you to move your shoulders up and down the easiest. It is the natural position of the shoulder. Your upper body should also be relaxed. Do not move your shoulders in a circle but move your shoulders up and down.
Put your hands on your lap lightly.
Then, check your posture by practicing the Ki test.
Is your posture comfortable and stable? Do you have any tension in your body? Do you feel your body to be light, stable and calm?
If you can practice correct posture, you will most likely perform breathing exercise correctly.

Correct posture while sitting on a chair
Correct posture
99upr 99upl   
First, move your shoulders up and down. Find the position that allows you to move your shoulders up and down the easiest. Put your hands on your lap lightly. You feel your body to be right and stable.

Chest out posture (wrong example)
99midr 99midl   
She has tension in her chest, back and hands.

Hunched posture (wrong example)
99dowr 99dowl   
This is dead relaxation and hunched posture. Limp posture.

2. Exhale calmly
Next, let’s practice how to exhale.
This is called “Koki” in Japanese. This means exhale carbon dioxide.
Beginners exhale only six or seven seconds because they are conscious of their chest and lungs. They tense their body unintentionally.
When you get off the bus, the bus driver says, “Please get off the bus from people near the exit first.” When you get into a bus, the bus driver says, “Please be seated from the back of the bus.”
Breathing is similar to this. When you exhale, if you imagine that your breath in the head goes first, then chest, back, leg, tiptoe in order, it is easy for you to exhale.
However, you should not think of this except when you are beginning. Once you understand that breathing is not just your chest or lungs but the whole body breathing, you can exhale comfortably.
Open your mouth naturally in a position that you can say “a”. Exhale so that you can visualize your breath going straight forward making the sound “Ha”. The sound should not be loud but very calm and relaxed. It is important to exhale naturally.
You should not be thinking about how long your exhale or inhale is. If you think about these things your body will become tense.
Some people become obsessed with the idea that they should exhale and inhale strongly.
When people try to exhale, they tense their body.
When you do Ki breathing, please exhale calmly and practice natural breathing.
If you exhale with dead relaxation, the exhale will be very weak.
It is important to do Ki breathing with oneness of mind and body. If you repeat exhaling several times, you will be able to exhale 15 or 20 seconds comfortably.
First, please practice until you can exhale comfortably before working on inhaling. If you extend Ki, new Ki comes into you. In the same way, if you exhale completely, new air comes into your lungs naturally.

3. Exhale naturally
If you can exhale comfortably, let’s go on to the next step.
As you exhale, the amount of air in your lungs decreases, and many people stop their exhale intentionally.
This is wrong. We naturally breathe when we are alive. If you hold your breath, your body becomes tense.
If your body is tense, blood vessels contract creating poor blood circulation.
If you exhale and let it continue, your breath becomes infinitely calm, leave your mouth open. When you think your exhale is naturally at an end, move your upper body slightly forward and let out one last breath. You should not hold your breath intentionally, but it is important to have your breath stop naturally.
Count, “one, two, three” as you end your breath. Your body should remain slightly forward as you close your mouth, begin your inhale naturally, thinking “from the tip of your nose.”
If you can do this, let's go on to the next step.

Exhale straight forward with sound of "HA"and calmly as much as possible.
When you think your exhale is naturally at an end, move your upper body slightly forward and let out one last breath naturally.


February 16, 2006

Keep our body limber(1)

I would like to ask you a question. Do you have a pliant body or a stiff body?

Try bending your head to the side while you look straight forward.

Did your ears touch your shoulder? By the way, it is wrong if you bring your shoulder to touch your ears!

If your ears touch your shoulders, you are okay.

Next, let’s turn your head right and left while your body faces to the front.
Can you turn your head to your back?

If your back comes into your sight line, you are okay.

How was your body? Was your body limber or tight?

When you have health problems, the part which you have a problem with will become sore or stiff in most cases.

When people feel pain in their body, they realize they have some health problems. However, when people feel only stiffness, most do not recognize this as a health problem.

My friend recently said that he would like to experience Kiatsu therapy. Therefore, I did Kiatsu therapy on his neck and shoulders.

I was amazed to find that his neck and shoulders were as stiff as an iron plate.

I asked him, “You must be in a great deal of pain because you have such stiff shoulders”. My friend answered, “No, I do not feel any pain.”!

Again, I was amazed. I realized that he must have been so stiff that he actually could not realize pain.

We do not press too hard or massage the body in Kiatsu therapy. We place fingers with Ki extending to the shoulder or neck calmly, and just send Ki.

Then, the stiff part gets soft similar to ice thawing. There is no adverse effect such as tiredness or soreness.

Well, I had to help my friend to realize his stiffness. First I asked my friend to bend his head right and left.

As I imagined, he could bend only about 2 inches.

I bent my neck to the shoulder to show him.
He immediately asked, “How do I relax?”

So, I did Kiatsu on his shoulders for about fifteen minutes. Gradually, his shoulders became soft and he could touch each ear to each shoulder at last.

Next, I did Kiatsu on his neck. His neck was also very stiff. I did Kiatsu fifteen minutes again. Then, he was able to move his head turning right and left, all the way to see his back .

My friend’s job is computer programming. He works over ten hours in front of the computer everyday.

My friend said, “My body is very light just like I have wings!”.

Why it is not good for our body to be stiff?

When your body is stiff, those stiff parts contract blood vessels, causing poor blood circulation.

When blood circulation is bad, blood cannot carry enough oxygen and nutrition to your body. Then, your life power becomes weak.

Especially, when you have an extremely stiff shoulder, that stiffness can cut off blood vessels to the brain, and blood flow is decreased.

This can cause headache, chronic sleepiness or bad feeling. It might even trigger cerebral-vascular disease in some very extreme cases.

Stiff shoulders may lead to all kinds of diseases. This is often discussed in the news these days.

Therefore, it is important to keep your neck and shoulders limber through Kiatsu therapy for prevention of diseases.

A good point to consider is that you can do it by yourself, and not only receive Kiatsu therapy from others.

Sometimes, fatigue builds up in my body. Then, my shoulders and neck become stiff.

I can do Kiatsu therapy by myself, I can get rid of stiff shoulders in a short time.

I can do self-Kiatsu any time any place. This helps me a lot.

However, the prevention of stiffness is the most important. How can we keep our body limber?

I will tell you this next time.


February 13, 2006

"Ki Breathing" by Koichi Tohei Sensei (23)

This article is translation of Koichi Tohei sensei's book, "Ki breathing (Ki no Kokyuho)". We will upload new article every Monday.

Shinichi Tohei

Chapter 4 Ki breathing is an elixir of life

Whole body breathing with internal respiration

I have explained correct posture and oneness of mind and body in order to do Ki breathing.
“Extend Ki” means to maintain our mind plus.
However, when we are sick or have something on our mind, it is difficult to have a plus mind, even if we try to.
Mind moves body. However, sometimes mind is affected by body.
If you practice Ki Principles well, even in bad health, you will be able to keep a plus mind. Most people become minus when their body becomes sick.

There is an elixir that will help you maintain a plus and healthy mind and body. That elixir is Ki breathing.
Humans can manage to live for a time without eating, but if breathing stops for even five minutes, you cannot survive.
Though we breathe unconsciously, whether our breathing is correct or not has a profound effect both on the spirit and on the welfare of our body.
A healthy person breathes in long strong breaths; a sickly person breathes in short weak ones.
A spiritually stable person breathes quietly and evenly, whereas a nervous person breathes at random and with short breaths.
We can always promote spiritual stability and preserve health by controlling our breathing.

Let’s think of the meaning and role of breathing.
Humans eat food and burn it to transform it into energy.
Oxygen is needed in this process, therefore, we breathe in oxygen from the atmosphere.
As by products of this process, waste matters like carbon dioxide are produced. These waste matters must be eliminated immediately. We need this process to maintain our lives.

There are two types of Breathing. External breathing or breathing with lungs describes the process where air from the external environment is inhaled into the lungs, and the carbon dioxide gas in the lungs is exhaled. Internal breathing describes the process where oxygen is taken from the lungs by capillary vessels convering the air cells of the lungs into the larger blood vessels, and into the capillary vessels supplying the cells of the body with oxygen. Conversely, carbon dioxide produced in the cells is absorbed by capillary vessels which flow into larger blood vessels then into the capillary vessels of the lungs where it is exhaled.

Many breathing methods are taught by many people. Most of those breathing methods are preoccupied with only external breathing.
It is said that the content of air in the lungs is about 3,000cc- 4,000cc.
We can exchange one fifth of the air in lungs by one normal breathing.
This means that we always retain dirty, old air in our lungs.
It is natural to do deep breathing and exchange air in our lungs.
To exchange air in the lungs, we do not need any breathing methods or technique.
When we air out a room with filthy air, we just open two windows and wait about 5 minutes. In the same way, if we do deep breathing five or six times, we can air out our lungs naturally.

Not only external breathing but internal breathing is important.
If oxygen goes only to the lungs and out, you do not get many benefits. When oxygen is carried to your whole body through your blood stream, you can benefit by sending fresh oxygen throughout your body.

Ki breathing does external and internal breathing at the same time. This is called “Whole body breathing”.
Some people teach to inhale and exhale for a specific time. In some cases, the number of breaths is predetermined.
However, it is not so important to inhale and exhale on a set time frame or for predetermined breaths.
The more you do ki breathing, the more you will become vigorous.

Breathing with oneness of mind and body

Let’s talk about how to do Ki breathing.
The most important thing is to practice oneness of mind and body. The correct posture is a natural posture when you do Ki brathing.
Natural posture means our mind and body are one with the Universe. It is a more comfortable and stable posture. The problem arises when you have difficulty understanding what is oneness of mind and body.
I have taught you in previous chapters how to do this. Anyone can check the state of oneness of mind and body through Ki test.
Before starting Ki breathing, let’s do a simple exercise.
First, please tense your body from the top of your head to the tiptoe.
Furrow your brow, stare hard, clamp your teeth shut, tense your shoulder and chest, tense your arm, put strength in your lower abdomen, and tense your legs. How is your breathing at this moment?
Many of you might hold your breath without being aware. If you do Ki test at this moment, you will know that if you tense your body, your posture is unstable.
Let’s do another exercise. This time, let’s try dead relaxation. Drop your shoulders like when you are disappointed and let your back bend.
How is your breathing at this moment? Yes, it is difficult to breathe because internal organs are pressed. Therefore, you can feel your breath becomes shallow. When you do Ki test, you will understand that dead relaxation is an unstable posture.
Many people know that relaxation is important to their health. Not many people know that there is a difference between correct relaxation and dead relaxation.
When you do Ki breathing, it is important to do Ki breathing with oneness of mind and body rather than just physically.


February 02, 2006

The Practice of Self Control: Ki and Education

In Buddhism, there is the idea called “in-en-ka (cause-ties-result)”. Things have a result not only due to a cause, but it is necessary to have ties as well. The role of education is what we call “ties”.

Even if a person has very fine personal qualities, if his education is not good, he cannot grow. Just as with cultivating crops, you cannot get fruit just by sowing seed. Before you sow the seed, you need to cultivate the field. Then, you need water and fertilizer, and you must take care of the crops everyday. All this is required to get good fruit.

Education is necessary to live as a human being. Many people think, “I have never been an educator”. However, in reality, most of the people provide some form of education to others. If you are a father or mother, you educate your children. If you are an executive or manager, you educate your employees.

Education means to show the way and then allow others to grow on their own. If you expect to mold others exactly as you want, this is not education but enforcement. Many people confuse “education” and “enforcement”.

Also, some people want to get fruit just after sowing the seed. This is ignoring nature. You need patience to wait for growth and development to occur.

Anyone feel stress when things do not go in the way they would like. At your work place, if your employee does not improve no matter how you helped him to grow and develop, you might want to get angry, “Why should I repeat the same things again and again to you!”.

However, it is impossible to educate people if you have a short temper or emotionally impatient. When you explode at someone, you may thing those words are for the other person. However, in truth, you did it to satisfy yourself.

When you are an educator you must have patience.

When you need to speak to someone, before speaking, first calm your mind and then say the words which others need, not what you want to say.

It seems very easy. However, it is difficult to do it anytime, with anyone, any place. You need to train.

To control yourself, you must train to keep your breath calm.

When your breath is rough? When you are nervous, anxious, angry, which causes you to loose your mental stability. This state of your mind shows up as rough breath.

By doing Ki breathing everyday, you can master calm breathing. When you do Ki breathing, your breath is calm. But your breath is not only calm during Ki breathing but also becomes calm in your daily life. Your mind will not be disturbed by small things.

By doing this, you will be able to have a breadth of mind to accept others and wait for other’s growth. Therefore there is no stress.

The reason why I can say this is that I had made this kind of mistake many times. I used to have a bad temper and it was easy for me to be emotional. Everyone who knows me now says, “I can’t believe it!”. My family and old staff know my personality well.

By training self-control through Ki breathing, I have been able to wait for other’s development with plus mind. There is no stress, therefore, my body remains very comfortable. This is one of the greatest realizations in my learning.

At Ki forum 2006, I will teach Ki breathing as the way of self-control in the afternoon seminar. Please join us!


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