BREATHING IN SHAOLIN WAHNAM
How is the breathing done in Shaolin Wanham?
-- Pedro, Spain
There are many breathing methods in our school. These methods are much more sophisticated than just breathing in and out through the nose and mouth. We choose the appropriate methods for particular purposes.
Besides breathing in and out through the nose or mouth, there are other breathing modes involved, like pause, follow, shoot, explode, sink and swallow, and other factors, like the speed, nature and volume of air or energy taking place, and approaches, like abdominal breathing, reverse breathing and Small Universe breathing.
You may also like to know that the term "breathing" in classical chi kung context is different from that in modern scientific context, a fact many practitioners, including some masters, many not know. In the modern context, breathing means taking in air and giving our air. In the classical context, it is an exchange of energy, not air.
In Abdominal Breathing, for example, it is energy, not air, that goes into and comes out from the abdomen. The lungs are air-tight. If air, instead of energy, goes through the lungs, it would be a big problem for the practitioner.
In most chi kung exercises, the breathing method is breathing in energy gently through the nose, and breathing out energy through the mouth. The mode and pace of breathing, however, vary between exercises.
In Lifting the Sky, for example, the method is breathing in gently through the nose, pause, breathing out gently through the mouth, pause.
In Pushing Mountain, the method is just breathing in gently through the nose and breathing out gently through the mouth without pausing in between. But at the completion of this exercise, the method is slightly different as follows: spontaneous breathing, breathing in through the nose gently, breathing out through the mouth forcefully but in a gentle manner with the mouth wide open.
The breathing structure of Nourishing Kidneys is more sophisticated. It is pause, breathing in gently through the nose, follow, breathing out gently through the mouth, and swallow.
In most exercises in Sinew Metamorphosis which produce tremendous internal force, the breathing method is "follow", then breathe out loudly but in a relaxed manner. You may be surprised that there is no breathing in. The breathing mode "follow" is translated from the Chinese term "sui", which means "let it be".
In Small Universe Breathing, the method is breathing in energy gently through the nose down the ren meridian into the dan tian or abdominal energy field, and breathing out energy gently from the dan tian along the du meridian out of the mouth. In Cosmic Breathing, there is no breathing in or out in the modern meaning of the term, but energy flows into and out from the dan tian. The practitioner literally pulsates with the Cosmos.
In kungfu, depending on various situations different breathing methods are used. Generally the method is "follow", where there is no conscious breathing in and out through the nose or mouth, but energy flows in and out of practitioners' body spontaneously. This is a main reason why our students can spar for hours without panting for breaths, simply because there is no breathing in the modern sense of the word.
In some situations, like pressing an opponent with a combat sequence, the breathing method is often breathing in gently through the nose, follow, follow, follow, explode through the mouth with a loud shout, sink and swallow. Although uninitiated readers may find these breathing modes unintelligible to them, our students have been so systematically trained that the breathing method occurs spontaneously.