Every breath you take should be like silk. Smooth, silent regular and deep from the lower abdomen, the tan tien. In Qi gong, breathing this way helps moderate blood pressure, reduce anxiety and helps you enter the alpha state. In the alpha state brain activity is around 7hz-14hz which is an optimum state for meditation and learning. It engages the creative intuitive and imagination part of our senses.
Try it. Sit with the back straight (though not rigid. So you have that slight "s" curve), shoulders down and relaxed. Breathe in through the nose, let the lower abdomen fill smoothly with air, as it fills notice it grows outward. The chest barely moves. That's great and what we want it to be. Exhale through the nose now, notice the abdomen goes in. In comparison to when we engage in rapid upper chest breathing we can hyperventilate. I was recently assisting a patient who did just that. With the breath rapid and panting from the chest, their hands locked, felt dizzy, the body was hot. The mismatch of oxygen to CO2 in the blood affected circulation in the extremities.
Breathing from the tan tien is great for anxiety sufferers and for reducing the sudden state of stress. Now try it to a 1 second per count of "in for 4 beats, out for 4 beats". After 5 minutes, how do you feel?
When we engage in qi gong, the deep rhythmic breathing, accompanied by focusing the mind directs the qi/life force/universal energy to self heal. This vibrant resonance has a positive effect on each of the organ energy systems. Basically, there are 10 paired organs: Liver- gall bladder, Lungs- large intestine, Heart - small intestines, Kidney -urinary bladder, Spleen- stomach. Each has a mental, emotional and physiological function. For example, a lack of joy, sadness, depression or excess excitability can be attributed to a deficiency or excesses in the heart energy organ system. So to learn to breathe correctly is the fundamental rhythm of a balanced life.
Mr Chao Yan a TCM doctor who recently gave a talk at Nottingham University
Has shown "that body energy must continuously flow to prevent stress and disease is a central tenet of Traditional Chinese Medicine. By clearing energy pathways called “jing luo” (经络) and removing blockages that cause pain and disease, qi can be balanced. Chinese Tuina (推拿) massage practitioners identify pathways with limited flow and use hand pressure to restore harmony and energy circulation....therapeutic benefits of Tuina massage helps balance our health holistically...."