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Benefits of the Breathing Exercise (Ch'i Kung)

by Patrick Lau

One of the most basic exercises that we learn in Master Chong’s Tai Chi class is the breathing exercise. This exercise emphasizes very slow breathing and sinking of the ch'i down to the abdomen. This breathing technique can provide great health benefits, and I would like to share my personal experience on how it had helped me to overcome a serious back pain.

Some time ago, I hurt my back when I tried to pull a very heavy item. I pulled it with a quick jerk backwards, and as a result, hurt my neck and back muscles quite seriously. My neck and back became very stiff and painful, and I could hardly turn my head or lift my shoulders. I went to consult Master Chong at his clinic and he gave me a therapeutic massage which relieved much of the pain. Eventually, my neck returned to normal after a few days.

It was about two months later when the neck and back pain came back all of a sudden. I went for a massage (at a near by place) hoping that it would relief the pain, but it was not effective at all. The pain lasted for many days, and I was in agony all the time. The pain was most unbearable when I was traveling on the bus one day. The sudden movements of the bus made my head jerk forward and backward which intensified the pain. Incidentally, it was at this time that I realized how wonderful the breathing exercise is. Because the pain was so unbearable, I had to “focus” on sitting still on the bus. I sat up straight, and started to breath slowly, sinking my breath down to my abdomen as I have learned in class. In about 15 minutes of doing so, I started to feel my neck muscles relaxing. The pain was not as great when the bus moved, and I was able to turn my head more to both sides. I continued to breathe using this technique for the rest of the day, and the result was just incredible! By the end of the day, my neck and back pain almost completely disappeared, and I was able to move my head and shoulders like normal.

The breathing exercise can provide great benefits to our health, and I am grateful that Master Chong has taught us this technique in his Tai Chi class.

Patrick Lau

Singapore, 6 October 2005


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