From Dr. Hu's "Breathing In Wild Goose Qigong" Series, Berkeley, CA
November 11, 2006
I. What is Chinese Kegel Breathing?
Breathe deeply and slowly. While you are exhaling, see if you can squeeze and lift up the perineal muscles. If you can, then you are doing the Chinese Kegel Breathing.
II. Kegel Breathing vs. Chinese Kegel Breathing
1) The term Kegel Breathing or Kegel exercise is named after the US sexologist Dr. Kegel, A. H.. Dr. Kegel found that our perineal muscles, and especially the two muscle groups of the pubo-coccygeous and the levator ani, can be trained to move through a special kind of breathing. Dr. Kegel taught this kind of breathing to his female patients as an exercise for treating various sexual disfunctions and for enhancing sexual performance. Nowadays Kegel Breathing is also used in aiding the childbirth process, and in self-healing certain urinary problems.
2) Since several traditional Taoist “secret” practices all involve the squeezing and lifting up of one’s perineal muscles, I think it would be easier for Western learners of qigong to identify those breathings as “Kegel Breathing”.
3) Of all those Chinese qigong breathings which involve squeezing and lifting up the perineal muscles in different ways, the most commonly used one is the kind of Kegel breathing in which we squeeze and lift up the perineal muscles while we are in the process of exhaling, but not while we are inhaling. I singled this one out and called it the “Chinese Kegel Breathing”.
III. How to practice Chinese Kegel Breathing?
Chinese Kegel Breathing is easy and safe to learn. We don’t even need the pre-requisite training of Reverse Abdominal Breathing. However, the learning of Kegel Breathing takes time, and it is better to follow a step-by-step approach.
1) Basic training for Chinese Kegel Breathing:
Practice (1): “Gateway to Natural Breathing” Qigong
Practice (2): “The Airplane” sitting qigong.
2) Taoist “secret” in training the perineal muscles:
According to the Taoist tradition, the perineal muscles can be trained through the swallowing movement. The practice is surprisingly simple, effective, and safe.
Practice (3): “Swallowing the Saliva” Kegel Breathing.
Practice (4): “Swallowing the Sun’s Energy”, and the last 3 movements of WG-7.
3) Advanced training for Kegel Breathing:
The Wild Goose Qigong series provide us with a systematic training of Kegel Breathing. In this workshop, we have chosen the ending of Wild Goose-1, and Part 4 of Wild Goose-9 (Chest-Opening Aromatic qigong) as two examples of how to practice Kegel Breathing safely and effectively.
Practice (5): “Wild Goose Goes to Sleep” (Micro-cosmic Orbit)
(M. 64, WG-1)
Practice (6): “Picking up the Medicine from the Earth” (Selected from Part 4 of WG-9).
IV. Physical Benefits in Practicing the Chinese Kegel Breathing
1) For creating an extra breathing space:
a) Just as reverse abdominal breathing can create an extra breathing space in our “Gate of Life”area, the Chinese Kegel breathing creates an extra breathing space in our perinea, pelvis, and groin area.
b) To be more specific: This breathing involves resisting increased abdominal pressure during forced expiration. By squeezing and lifting up the pubo-coccygeous and the levator ani muscle groups while exhaling, more space is provided for qi to better circulate in our reproductive organs, urinary organs, and to a certain degree, it will affect the peristaltic movements of the colon.
2) For easy stretching of our body:
Whenever we use Chinese Kegel Breathing
in exhaling, it naturally stretches our body, i.e., both our limbs and our torso.
3) For building up inner strength:
a) The training of this breathing can stop the qi leaking from our perineum
b) It strengthens and develops our lower dantian.
4) Making our Micro-Cosmic Orbit smoother:
By squeezing and lifting up the perineum muscles while we breathe out, we connect the Conception Vessel with the Governing Vessel at the perineum area. Thus, it makes the qi-flow smoother in the lower loop of the Orbit.
5) Easier to absorb the earth energy:
If we inhale while gripping our toes, the earth energy will be absorbed into our legs through the K-1 point (“Bubbling Spring” point). But if we can squeeze our perineum muscles at the same time, the earth energy can be further absorbed into our torso.
V. Watch out for the pitfalls in learning Kegel Breathing
1) Using Kegel breathing in practicing Chinese qigong is usually more strenuous than using normal abdominal breathing, reverse abdominal breathing, or Chinese Kegel breathing. Kegel breathing should be used for a specific reason and never be over-used.
2) Don’t use Kegel breathing continuously. Try to alternate it with other kinds of breathing.
3) When you experience a “stuffy” or “oppressive” chest, you should stop practicing Kegel Breathing right away. Do some agile wild Goose Qigong instead.
4) For people with high blood pressure or any heart problem, don’t
practice Kegel Breathing. But it is fine to practice “Swallowing the
Saliva”, and “Gateway to Natural Breathing” qigong.