and .. Breathe

​‘As long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee’
Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

On Mondays I run a Qi Gong class at The Therapy Life Centre, every week at 11a.m.
Qi Gong is a wonderful way to exercise the mind and body through movement and breathe, and a great way to start the week!
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When we are born the first thing we do in this world is take a breath, and it’s also the last thing we do.

We give the breath of life.

We take a deep breath before taking the plunge, and then have our breath taken away!

We all breathe. It is fundamental to our existence. Every living thing must breathe in one way or another. Trying holding your breath and see how long you last!

But when was the last time you took a breath?

As an Acupuncturist and Qi Gong practitioner I am interested in two aspects of breathing: how we breathe and the quality of the air that we breathe. When I see a new client, I always observe how they are breathing, because the way we breathe says a lot about our health. Some of us are shallow breathers; some of us hold are breath; and nearly all of us are unaware that we are breathing!

In Chinese Medicine mindfulness of breath is extremely important. We see air as Qi, or vital energy, so it is literally the breath of life. Qi Gong (the health exercises synonymous with Chinese Medicine), in fact, translates as ‘breath work’. By being aware of our breath we are connecting with our body. When we are watching TV or reading a magazine we are invariably not aware of our breath. We are therefore disconnected from reality, or put another way, disconnected from self. And before you know it that is when illness creeps up on you.

Try breathing bent over – this is how we breath at our desks…for much of the day!

Don’t go Jogging next to a busy road!

And what about the air we breathe? We know, for instance, that children growing up in the inner city of London are more prone to skin and lung diseases.

The greatest problem is with nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a pollutant that inflames the lungs, stunting children’s’ growth and increasing the risk of respiratory diseases such as asthma and lung cancer. London has an acute problem with NO2, possibly the worst in the world. Putney high street broke its annual emission limits just eight days into the New Year, with Knightsbridge, Oxford Street, Earls Court and Brixton all following suit before the end of January. Across the country, the government estimates 23,500 people die prematurely from NO2 pollution. Would we care more if we could see the air we breathe?

So it is important where we do our breathing; exercising in the woods is better than next to the A127! Of course we cannot always be in the countryside, but it helps to be somewhere clean when doing our Qi or mindful breathing, in the garden for instance.

If you would like to know more about Qi Gong and my class, or you just have a question about Chinese Medicine, please do contact me.

Steve

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