Moss-covered Monk

Moss-covered Monk


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A History of Samurai and Zen (16)

Breathing exercise is one of the practices of Yoga, and somewhat similar in
its method and end to those of Zen. We quote here Yogi Ramacharaka to
show how modern Yogis practice it:

"(1) Stand or sit erect. Breathing through the nostrils, inhale steadily, first
filling the lower part of the lungs, which is accomplished by bringing into
play the diaphragm, which, descending, exerts a gentle pressure on the
abdominal organs, pushing forward the front walls of the abdomen. Then
fill the middle part of the lungs, pushing out the lower ribs, breastbone, and
chest. Then fill the higher portion of the lungs, protruding the upper chest,
thus lifting the chest, including the upper six or seven pairs of ribs. In the
final movement the lower part of the abdomen will be slightly drawn in,
which movement gives the lungs a support, and also helps to fill the highest
part of the lungs. At the first reading it may appear that this breath consists
of three distinct movements. This, however, is not the correct idea. The
inhalation is continuous, the entire chest cavity from the lower diaphragm
to the highest point of the chest in the region of the collarbone being
expanded with a uniform movement. Avoid a jerking series of inhalations,
and strive to attain a steady, continuous action. Practice will soon overcome
the tendency to divide the inhalation into three movements, and will result
in a uniform continuous breath. You will be able to complete the inhalation
in a couple of seconds after a little practice.

(2) Retain the breath a few seconds.

(3) Exhale quite slowly, holding the chest in a firm position, and drawing
the abdomen in a little and lifting it upward slowly as the air leaves the
lungs. When the air is entirely exhaled, relax the chest and abdomen. A
little practice will render this part of exercise easy, and the movement once
acquired will be afterwards performed almost automatically."

~Kaiten Nukariya