Topic 1: Breathing Techniques
As you sit here during the talk, I notice that you are not breathing correctly. We still use shallow chest breathing rather than deep abdominal breathing.
A first response to a cancer diagnosis is often fear and stress, which is a natural response due to evolution. In this course we will learn how to rebalance our nervous system by enhancing the parasympathetic nerve and diminishing the sympathetic nerve.
We have 2 nervous systems, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic, also called the vagus nerve. When the body is under physical or emotional stress, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, which can lead to higher irritability, long term stress, poor immune function, high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels.
On the other side, the vagus nerve (parasympathetic nervous system) leads to calmness, immune enhancement and balance, better bowel movement and digestive function, etc. Many modern health problems may be related to sympathetic nervous system dominance. One of the most efficient ways to correct the situation by yourself is to use abdominal breathing instead of chest breathing.
Recent studies from within the conventional medical research field reveal how important the parasympathetic nervous system is for a strong immune system and fighting cancer. One of the most effective ways to enhance the vagus nerve/parasympathetic nerve is through deep abdominal breathing.
A deep abdominal breath stretches the diaphragm, which contains the largest vagus nerve fibers, and activates the nerve. We have many people who come into the clinic with high blood pressure, and with brief instructions on deep abdominal breathing, their blood pressure drops within minutes, without any medication. If we repeatedly train ourselves to breathe properly, it will become a natural response to stress.
3 concerns to consider as you work to attain good health:
Are you experiencing:
A healthy appetite? (No significant weight loss)
Good elimination? (regular bowel movement)
If you do not have good bowel function, it is likely that you don't breathe well and are also not sleeping well. One approach to good sleep is to treat the gut first and improve your style of breathing. A highly activated sympathetic nerve inhibits normal bowel movement and can be the cause of constipation and high blood pressure. A relaxed parasympathetic nervous system promotes healthy bowel movement. One way to improve bowel tone without taking any drugs or supplements is to learn how to breath properly. This is the foundation of everything we will teach in future sessions.
Breathe in and the diaphragm goes down, breathe out and it rises up and relaxes naturally. The diaphragm is like a balloon: breath in and balloon goes down. Just imagine it, as it drops behind your belly button. “Dan Tian” is the energy generator below your belly button. Of course, the diaphragm can't drop that low, but just thinking about it can expand the muscles and it will go down further than expected. Use your mind to visualize it. Put your intention towards making it go further and it will expand lower. Not only will it enhance parasympathetic nerve tone and calm you while strengthening your immune system, but another benefit is that, theoretically, diaphragm breathing can increase oxygen capacity by 40 percent. Ribs protect the lungs but also limit our oxygen intake. People breathe like a horse if they run without training as they can't get enough oxygen. But there is a lot of space to expand the diaphragm as there are no ribs below to restrict the breath.
There are many theories as to the origins of cancer, and Chinese medicine has a unique viewpoint. Most cancer starts later in life, usually from age 40 or older. Kids do get leukemia, but we believe this is due to toxins. If you don't get sufficient oxygen, it is possible that cancer is more likely to occur.
From the viewpoint of Chinese medicine, a blockage stops energy from entering tissues, allowing the cancer gene to mutate. Many people carry cancer genes but may not get cancer The best way to stop cancer or recurrence is to bring more fresh air/oxygen into the body. This way your energy is used in the most efficient manner. How much aerobic exercise can you do if you are not in good physical health? Everyone can sit still and do deep breathing no matter how weak. Even doing this will increase vagal tone and oxygen intake. Soon people experience a clearer mind and increased energy. The vagus nerve helps people calm down and metabolism slow down. Nutrition can be depleted when the body’s metabolism is too fast. If we burn energy too fast, cancer cells will win.
If we learn to breathe deeply and use the diaphragm, we can enhance immune function and increase oxygen intake, reducing stress and connecting the mind and body.
Demonstration by Hannah of the Daoyin stance and “Holding the Ball” exercise.
Focus your mind on the diaphragm as your spine stretches and your chest opens out as you spread your arms.
The location of points on the spine corresponds with specific illnesses. Tightness on and around the spine can have a specific effect on organs. Therefore, we place great significance on stretching and relaxing the spine.
When we can concentrate on the diaphragm and focus our breath we will greatly improve our health. We can not easily be like the Buddha on the mountaintop who meditates silently with ease. It’s not easy to sit quietly and empty our mind. But if we get our mind to observe and our body to perform specific motions, as in a moving meditation, we can more easily and effectively enhance our breathing.
Let air into lower abdomen first as we stretch. As we relax, the tailbone will curl a little bit, like the shape of a shrimp. In ancient yoga theory, and in Qi gong, there is an energy generator of yang energy in our back at the bottom of the spine. If this area is too closed, no energy can flow. Nerves goes into the pelvic and reproductive organs and help ease lower back pain. We need to make room in that part of the spine so energy can enter and flow.
Once you are used to the Daoyin stance, or “shrimp” position, we will add in the pelvic tilt. Lead with the breath, not the arms! This is crucial. This movement is not exercise, this is qi (energy) practice. Use the chest to open arms. Not the other way around. The body sinks in like a shrimp. Air goes into abdomen first before we begin any movement.
Watch your breath as you visualize your diaphragm dropping. Listen to your breath as well. Extending the exhale longer is better. At the same time, use your voice. Any vowel sound is.low frequency and this is the sound we encourage you to make as you exhale. All cells and tissues have a different frequency and vibration.
Disease causes the vibration frequency to change. Use a low frequency sound to correct that.
For example, atrial fibrillation uses high volts to shock the heart so it will return to a normal rhythm. We utilize a similar principle, but in an opposite way, using low vibration to change our body’s abnormal rhythm.
Stand up and put one hand low on the Dantian/abdomen and one high on chest.
Breathe in and blow out. Breathe out and create a low frequency sound, feeling the vibration in your chest. Everyone’s sound should be different. Find the best sound for you that produces the greatest vibration. Try to lower the sound. Relax your shoulders so they lower down. Go slowly; slower is better. Breath deeper and deeper and extend your outbreath. Try this 10 times. When you go home, see if you can find a balloon and try to see how big you can blow it up. At the end of the course if you can blow it up 40% more, this will mean you increased your lung capacity by 40%.
This exercise is a Lymph system flush. You massage the organs as you breathe in and out.
Start by practicing the arm swing on one side, like shoveling snow.
The key to, and the purpose of, percussion exercises is to twist the spine and activate energy inside the spine. One of the differences between Daoyin and yoga is that yoga stretches the muscles and tendons but doesn't move the energy so it flows to the muscles. Daoyin squeezes the fluid and flushes the area of chemicals which can cause inflammation and weaken immune function.
In traditional Chinese medicine, toxins in the gut need to be flushed out through this “detox gate.” A high density of lymph system exists in this area. By stretching and hitting the groin area, the lymph system can be flushed better.
Note: if you have knee problems, keep your legs straight and bend your knees just a tiny bit. We are also stretching the psoas muscle, which will aid in healthy bowel movement.
If a painful or tender spot is found by pressing on the right side of the spine, on the level of T4 to T7, it may suggest the possible dysfunction or illness in the liver and/or gall bladder. If the spot is on the left, the stomach and/or pancreas may in involved. As you release the tension on the spot, you will also reduce pain or improve the function of the organs. Our daoyin motion, acupressure and percussion may help you to release the congested ”Qi” on the spots.
From the point of view of meridian theory, the spine has 3 main reflex points. As you open these 3 points, or gates, your energy flow will also open up. They are located at L5, T7 and C7.
It is okay to start with just one side. A lot of people with pneumonia have phlegm in their lungs and this patting/hitting of percussion exercises helps. Patients with lung cancer often hold phlegm in their lungs.
Many studies support the concept that gut health plays an important role in the overall state of our health, including the body’s ability to resist cancer. In traditional Chinese medicine, digestive function and gut health are often a first consideration for fighting cancer. In upcoming classes we will discuss more about gut health.
In this class, we are going to learn to put four methods together to reinforce the Qi Gong practice:
Low frequency sound
Acupressure demonstration with Hannah
Place your hand horizontally below one knee, so all 4 fingers line up under the knee. Just under the pinky, on the outer side of the femur, is the acupressure point. Use your fingers or heel of the opposite foot to press and massage this point.
For sleep issues, right before bed hold feet up about 6” to 1 foot or 30 degrees above the floor. Point and flex, alternating feet, as long as you can, as you breathe deeply. Or you can just keep your legs up and hold them in this position. Thermal graphic studies show that this will bring blood flow down to your pelvic area and improve sleep quality.