Have fun exploring these three simple breathing practices – all of which I’ve found to be beneficial in numerous ways. Things to remember with all of them: (1) Stay relaxed, particularly through your face, neck, jaw and shoulders. Maintaining a gentle smile — as in the Inner Smile practice — will help with this; (2) Keep the tip of your tongue in gentle contact with the roof of your mouth, right behind the upper front teeth.
This facilitates beneficial communication between the Ren and Du meridians; (3) Maintain an attitude of patience and curiosity. Do your best to stay gently focused on the practice, but without creating tension. There’s no hurry.
Find a comfortable place to sit, with your spine in an upright position. Close your eyes, and bring your attention to the movement of your breath, simply observing your inhalations and your exhalations, in no way attempting to alter their natural rhythm. Follow the breath in this way for ten rounds.
Now, place your hands gently on your lower abdomen, with the tips of your thumbs touching each other directly over your navel, and your first fingers gently touching each other several inches below your navel – so that your hands are making a triangle shape over the lower part of your belly, in the area of what in Taoist practice is known as the lower dantian.
To practice “abdominal breathing,” let this lower portion of your abdomen, beneath your hands, gently expand (lift into your hands) with each inhalation; and let it relax back to its starting position with each exhalation. That’s all – simple. Inhale, expand. Exhale, relax. Repeat for ten rounds of the breath.