Aikido Breathing Exercises

January 28, 2018

Proper breathe control is essential to remaining calm during stressful situations. Aikido breathing exercises help students learn to remain calm by controlling their breathing.

What is the proper posture?

It’s important to maintain the proper posture during breathing exercises, so that your lungs can completely fill with air during the exercise.

The proper sitting posture is one of the following:

a. Tailor fashion

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent parallel to the floor
  • Feet are tucked in between your thighs, with one ankle over the other
  • Your head should be upright, with your chin parallel to the floor
  • Sit upright with a your spine straight.
  • Place your hands loosely on your knees
  • Your body should be relaxed
  • Check your shoulders if they are tense or raised, then you are tense: conciously relax your shoulders

b. Lotus position

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent parallel to the floor
  • Place each foot on the opposite leg’s knee
  • Your head should be upright, with your chin parallel to the floor
  • Sit upright with a your spine straight.
  • Place your hands loosely on your feet
  • Your body should be relaxed
  • Check your shoulders if they are tense or raised, then you are tense: consciously relax your shoulders

c. Seiza (pronounced Say-zuh)

  • Kneel on the floor with your knees shoulder-width apart
  • Place my big toe over the other big toe
  • Sit back onto your feet
  • Your head should be upright, with your chin parallel to the floor
  • Sit upright with a your spine straight.
  • Place your hands loosely on your knees
  • Your body should be relaxed
  • Check your shoulders if they are tense or raised, then you are tense: conciously relax your shoulders

The proper prone posture is:

  • Lie on your back
  • Arms along your side
  • Legs flat against the floor
  • Knees slightly bent
  • Completely relax
  • Check your shoulders if they are tense or raised, then you are tense: conciously relax your shoulders

Avoid hunching over because it compresses the chest cavity and making it difficult to fully fill up your lungs.

How do I stay focused?

It’s common for people’s minds to wander when learning breathing exercises. In the beginning, you may only be able to focus for 1 to 2 mintues. With additional practice, you’ll be able to increase the time you are able to maintain your concentration and focus.

To start, find your “happy place”. This should be a place, situation, or person who makes you happy and content. Envision a place where you feel most comfortable: a nice place a the beach, a cave, a forest, or a place you would like to go on vacation. It can be a real place or one that is imagined.

During the exercise, concentrate on your “happy place” as you go through the breathing cycles. Build your “happy place” piece by piece. Continue to build your comfortable place, making it into a place where you feel safe and relaxed. As you reach your comfort level, you should naturally begin to smile.

I encourage you to keep practicing. The more you practice, the easier it will become to focus during the exercises.

How do I breathe?

The breathing cycle should be practiced as slowly as possible. At first, you may only be able to practice a few minutes; but as you gain more experience, the length of your practice sessions will increase in time.

The cycle is one breathe in, followed by one breathe out. While practicing the exercises, do the following:

Breath IN

  • With your mouth closed, breathe in through your nose
  • Use your lower abdominal muscles to expand your lungs, doing so will use your diaphragm like a bellows to pull air into your lungs
  • Breath in slowly, filling your lungs to capacity
  • When your lungs are at full capacity, breathe in some more air

Breath OUT

  • With your mouth open, breathe out through your mouth
  • Use your lower abdominal muscles to compress your lungs, doing so will use your diaphragm to push air out of your lungs
  • Breath out slowly, emptying your lungs of air
  • When your lungs are empty, push more air out of your lungs

What is “meditation in motion”?

Aikido is sometimes described as “meditation in motion.” This is because the breathing exercises are employed while practicing the physical techniques (Waza). During physical practice, Aikido students breathe slowly and deeply, while maintaining a relaxation that is controlled.

You can practice “medication in motion” while engaging in other activities, such as; work, school, sports, driving, etc. Pay attention to your shoulders. If your shoulders are “up”; then you are tense. Consciously relax your shoulders. This will naturally help your body begin to breathe using your lower abdominal muscles, instead of your chest muscles. Your body will relax when your shoulders are “down.”

 

How do I apply my new skill?

The ability to control your breathing during stressful situations will allow your mind to think clearly due to increased oxygen intake. Students benefit from relaxed, abdominal breathing in common daily situations that include, but are not limited to:

  • Public speaking – Before you step in front of your audience, begin breathing deeply, slowly with your abdominal muscles. Check your shoulders and make sure they are “down.” Throughout your presentation, check your shoulders periodically and relax if your shoulders are “up.”
  • Vehicle collisions or near collisions – Breath deeply from your abdomin and check your shoulders. If your shoulders are up, allow your shoulders to drop “down.”
  • Confrontations – Avoid confrontations, if possible, by immediately leaving the situation. It isn’t necessary to win an argument or prove you are right. If the other person doesn’t permit you to leave the situation, call 9-1-1. To remain calm so that you can think clearly and possibly find a resolution: breathe deeply from your abdomin and check your shoulders. If your shoulders are up, allow your shoulders to drop “down.”

The more you practice breathing exercises during stressful situations, the more natural it will feel. Then when a situation takes you by surprise, you will find it easier to use the exercises as a response to the stress.

 

 

 

2 Comments

  • Jacob Highley February 8, 2018 at 3:41 am

    Great info! I love martial arts and these breathing techniques are very useful! My dad loves aikido and has stated many times that he would do it again!

    I have found myself wishing I had known some of these breathing tips before. Have you found one of them to be most helpful?

    • admin February 10, 2018 at 3:58 am

      Yes, actually the most useful breathing technique is checking my shoulders during stressful situations. I have to give presentations and training sessions as part of my job. I still get nervous sometimes. When that happens, I slow down my breathing rate, begin to use my lower abdominal muscles and check my shoulders to make sure they are “down.” It’s never failed me.

      Rita

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