Tai Chi has two basic breathing methods – abdominal and reverse breathing.
When I teach abdominal breathing in my various presentations and student Tai Chi workshops, I usually get someone who ends up doing the more advanced reverse breathing method instead.
I don’t know why some people do this as the explanation and demonstration is clear and simple to follow. Maybe it’s because some people get confused with the concept of breathing in and expanding the abdomen at the same time. Usually after a few attempts they get it right.
I thought I’d write a post, in simplistic terms, on the difference between the two breathing methods and how they are used in Tai Chi.
You simply breathe in through your nose and expand your abdomen. When you breathe in, your abdomen returns to the resting position. Abdominal breathing is the general breathing method for wellbeing Tai Chi.
This is the reverse of abdominal breathing – you breathe in and your abdomen gently contract – breathe out and your abdomen expands. Reverse breathing is used in Tai Chi self defence.
Sometimes I find when I do my Tai Chi form or Chi Kung exercises I alternate between abdominal breathing and reverse breathing without thinking about it. However when it comes to the Tai Chi self defence applications then reverse breathing is what I tend to focus on.
It’s important for beginner students to focus on abdominal breathing before trying reverse breathing.