The Power of the Breath
Breathing is a very important component of your practice. Breath gives your techniques explosive power. In stressful situations, you can use it to relax nerves, helping you to be more calm and peaceful. Being a great martial artist without having control over the breath is impossible.
The first and most basic breathing exercise is called seca tunda or hara breathing. In the West, speech and voice coaches call this diaphragm breathing. The goal is to fill the entire lungs from the bottom up, and then to completely empty them from the top down. This is how we should breath during our meditation at the start of class. Most people breathe in their chest using shallow inhalations. The oxygen only fills the top of the lungs leaving the lower area unused or holding stale air.
By breathing deeply, you more effectively oxygenate the blood stream. This benefits the heart and other internal organs as well as the muscles of the entire body.
To practice seca tunda or diaphragm breathing, lie on your back and place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Start by exhaling completely.
As you begin to inhale, the hand on your stomach should rise, but do not let the hand on your chest move at all.
Pause for a count of three, and then begin your exhalation. The hand on your stomach should fall as you exhale. Again, do not let the hand on your chest move at all.
When your exhalation is complete, pause again for a count of three, and then repeat the process.
Having difficulty in the beginning is normal. You might feel that you aren’t getting a full satisfying breath. You aren’t. This is an exercise that will help you breathe deeper.
You do not breathe this way all the time. By practicing this exercise, you will recondition yourself to breathe from the bottom all the way up, and then to exhale from the top all the way down. You will become accustomed to filling the lungs from the bottom. Then, you can breathe deeply using all of your lungs. When you use all of your lungs at all times, you are more energetic and able to better handle stressful situations.
Do not practice seca tunda breathing on a full stomach.
Wait at least one hour after eating.
In the beginning, practice for a total of only five to ten minutes.
Inhalations and exhalations should be equal in time and duration. As you perform the exercise, the breath will naturally slow.
Practice your seca tunda breathing daily, with great discipline. Do not get discouraged-you have been breathing in the upper chest for many years. Retraining the body will take time.
When you have learned the technique, periodically monitor your breathing throughout the day. If you notice that your breath is not deep and relaxed, filling the entire lungs, practice this technique again.
The breath is such an important component in martial arts and life that in later lessons, we will continue the topic. Remember–the battle is within.
Shudokan Black Belt Academy - Aikido Nottingham