I'm so happy to have found this forum. I love SF qigong, but am having trouble with the breathing. I have a perpetually stuffy nose and can't exhale through my nose.
Also, I've had a lot of anxiety about my breathing for most of my life, and finally relaxed about it through mindfulness meditation which is not trying to control it in any way and belly breathing. The breathing in SF seems the opposite of that, reverse breathing, all nose breathing, and matching the movements to the breath.
Can I still get benefit if I do the exercises focusing on the visualizations and staying relaxed and without worrying about the breathing? At least at this point? I'm very new at it. Even thinking about controlling the breath makes me anxious!
Thanks so much for any advice,
Why does breathing make you so anxious? Sincerely, I feel that you should address this issue first before trying meditation that involves focus on breathing.
You absolutely Can! In Spring forest Qigong it is always about good, better or best. As you continue to practice in whatever way feels the most comfortable to you your channels will open and you may find you are able to breathe more comfortably through your nose. It helps to be intentional. Begin your meditations with the intention to open up your breathing system so that you are able to breathe more deeply. When you become a little more comfortable you can try the SFQ breathing for 10, 20 then thirty seconds to a minute and increase from there. But at this point if it makes you anxious just do what feels the most comfortable to you, you will still benefit. Trust your intution. Visualization and confidence are so key to Spring Forest Qigong. You can visualize opening up your sinuses,nose and lungs with white light or whatever color comes to you.
Also practice the active exercise, "breathing of the universe" and small universe, too.
Thank you very much for the encouragement and the advice about the intention. Not to sound defensive, but I have addressed why it makes me anxious many times and I continue to work with it. It started when I was a kid and I'm almost 60 now.
I did practice a form of qigong for 12 years called Zhineng qigong that healed me from a life threatening illness. And there was no emphasis on the breathing - as I relaxed into the form and into the universe, my breathing just sort of took care of itself. I would be breathing deeply and slowly with no effort on my part. But it is the right time for me to try something new for lots of reasons and maybe the emphasis on conscious breathing, although I don't think I like it, will end up helping me more than anything else. It's worth a try.
Although Breathing is important to your practice, in Level 1 it is more important that you breathe slowly and evenly than it is to do Qigong breathing.
There is no need to rush into reverse breathing at this point. as remedios mentioned above, the healing happens with the aid of your mind, movements, attitude, visualization, and simply slowing down your breath.
When you get to the point that you want to play with reverse breathing, do it for the first three breaths at the beginning of your exercises or sitting meditation, then go back to your regular breathing. Continue doing it this way each time you practice, and like the tongue at the roof of your mouth, bend at your elbows, smile on your face, etc. it will all be carried over naturally into your practice without you even realizing it.
Bouncing for a couple minutes before for your exercises with your arms above your head and hands dangling, as well as the Harvesting of Qi cupping exercises throughout the day can open the breathing system channels.