Retention of Exhalation while tightening body mass as an exercise

Nick9tap

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From the more traditional Qi Gong training the retention of the out breath while tightening the body mass intrigues me. Can anyone help me understand the physiological effects of these types of exercises?
 

dvcochran

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From the more traditional Qi Gong training the retention of the out breath while tightening the body mass intrigues me. Can anyone help me understand the physiological effects of these types of exercises?
I do know it increases the blood pressure temporarily. It is thought to be a 'boost of strength' to the muscles but I do not know if there is any scientific proof of this. I imagine this is quite specific to the individual.
Conversely, it would typically stiffen the body. At the point of a strike/block that could be good thing. During the process of getting to/from a strike/block/roll etc... that could be a bad thing and a person would become gassed quickly.
 

mograph

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Yeah, sounds like Iron Shirt, because the qigong I know prefers regular breathing.
 

Oily Dragon

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From a health point of view, holding your breath while exerting yourself makes no sense. Oxygen is the most important substance to any human. Holding your breath is for underwater, but calmness is at the very heart of controlling all exertion, whether it's swimming or combat.

Common introductory sets (Five Animal Frolics, Seven Golden Gates, Eight Brocades) involve constant deep breathing (tu na) and stretching (dao yin), you should not be consciously holding your breath at all. What's actually "held" are the tightened parts of the body, for a short period, so that once released the effective result is like twisting a garden hose and then releasing it. In TCM, this has the result of cleansing the body. And because it does have effects on the blood pressure and body chemistry like other types of exercise, it does have therapeutic effects for many, the least of which is reducing stress. And nothing is more stressful to a human body than holding your breath (unless you're well trained a free diver).

Southern Shaolin Iron Wire, however, there are definitely periods of controlled (or at least very, very, very slow) breathing. Typically this set is done very, very slowly, and a good practitioner should be able to get by without more than three inhales and exhales a minute. Most people simply cannot do that without practice, commonly starting with the intro forms above. Iron Wire is advanced Wai Gong, with a Nei Gong flare.

So in a way, like all things Daoist, try to think of this not as a breathing or no breathing thing, but as a continuum. You are learning to control your breathing and how it serves your body. Slower is always better, unless your body can't keep up. And if that's the case, you just need to train more.
 
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Oily Dragon

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I do know it increases the blood pressure temporarily. It is thought to be a 'boost of strength' to the muscles but I do not know if there is any scientific proof of this. I imagine this is quite specific to the individual.
Conversely, it would typically stiffen the body. At the point of a strike/block that could be good thing. During the process of getting to/from a strike/block/roll etc... that could be a bad thing and a person would become gassed quickly.
A friend of mine is a Daoist Priest, Tai Chi dude, and bodybuilder. He actually uses medical devices to monitor his vitals during Qigong training.

According to him, the monitors definitely show improved oxygenation of blood, steadier heart rhythm, faster recovery rates, lower average blood pressure, not to mention, all the loosey goosey wonderful happy chemicals dancing around your body (which are hard to quantify but pretty apparent in the kung fu glow you give off).

That's actually my personal way of identifying kung fu students in need of help. They don't glow like they should! The world needs more people that do.
 

Xue Sheng

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From a health point of view, holding your breath while exerting yourself makes no sense. Oxygen is the most important substance to any human. Holding your breath is for underwater, but calmness is at the very heart of controlling all exertion, whether it's swimming or combat.

Common introductory sets (Five Animal Frolics, Seven Golden Gates, Eight Brocades) involve constant deep breathing (tu na) and stretching (dao yin), you should not be consciously holding your breath at all. What's actually "held" are the tightened parts of the body, for a short period, so that once released the effective result is like twisting a garden hose and then releasing it. In TCM, this has the result of cleansing the body. And because it does have effects on the blood pressure and body chemistry like other types of exercise, it does have therapeutic effects for many, the least of which is reducing stress. And nothing is more stressful to a human body than holding your breath (unless you're well trained a free diver).

Southern Shaolin Iron Wire, however, there are definitely periods of controlled (or at least very, very, very slow) breathing. Typically this set is done very, very slowly, and a good practitioner should be able to get by without more than three inhales and exhales a minute. Most people simply cannot do that without practice, commonly starting with the intro forms above. Iron Wire is advanced Wai Gong, with a Nei Gong flare.

So in a way, like all things Daoist, try to think of this not as a breathing or no breathing thing, but as a continuum. You are learning to control your breathing and how it serves your body. Slower is always better, unless your body can't keep up. And if that's the case, you just need to train more.

My Yang Shifu and I once had a discussion about qigong, he was of the belief those that hold breath and exert themselves, or those who inhale to much (expand lungs to far)...will injury themselves
 

Oily Dragon

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My Yang Shifu and I once had a discussion about qigong, he was of the belief those that hold breath and exert themselves, or those who inhale to much (expand lungs to far)...will injury themselves
This is also a central tenet of Iron Thread. Slow and careful.

Lam Sai Wing (the author of the primary 20th century text) died of a herniation.

At least that was better than opium addiction (sorry, Wing Chun).
 

Xue Sheng

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This is also a central tenet of Iron Thread. Slow and careful.

Lam Sai Wing (the author of the primary 20th century text) died of a herniation.

At least that was better than opium addiction (sorry, Wing Chun).

This discussion came about after one of his students, who was really into yoga was telling him about pranayama breathing. What they describe concerned him, and he told them to be careful. It concerned me as well, which is why we had the conversation. I have done some pranayama breathing and what they were talking about was over exertion and over expansion of the lungs
 

Oily Dragon

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This discussion came about after one of his students, who was really into yoga was telling him about pranayama breathing. What they describe concerned him, and he told them to be careful. It concerned me as well, which is why we had the conversation. I have done some pranayama breathing and what they were talking about was over exertion and over expansion of the lungs
Lung volume, I can't imagine anything more important during training. And pleurisy is common in overtraining, not to mention, smoking.

Another key aspect/benefit of Qigong is diaphragm breathing, something babies do naturally but adults somehow unlearn as they get older, stressed out, and worry about everything.

Babies only hold their breath when really scared. Think about that for a second, I think it makes sense why, if you also trained yourself back to this natural state, without holding your breath when scared.
 

mograph

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Apparently, Pranayamic breathing can be useful.

"Pranayamic breathing, defined as a manipulation of breath movement, has been shown to contribute to a physiologic response characterized by the presence of decreased oxygen consumption, decreased heart rate, and decreased blood pressure, as well as increased theta wave amplitude in EEG recordings, increased parasympathetic activity accompanied by the experience of alertness and reinvigoration."

article
 

Xue Sheng

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Apparently, Pranayamic breathing can be useful.

"Pranayamic breathing, defined as a manipulation of breath movement, has been shown to contribute to a physiologic response characterized by the presence of decreased oxygen consumption, decreased heart rate, and decreased blood pressure, as well as increased theta wave amplitude in EEG recordings, increased parasympathetic activity accompanied by the experience of alertness and reinvigoration."

article

oh yes it can be very useful, I learned a bit of it from a friend who is a Yoga Therapist. Based on some early Covid cases where folks got through with deep breathing which sounded very similar to Pranayama it is most certainly useful. But what the person was telling my Shifu....was over expansion of the lungs and I am not sure how much they actually knew about it
 

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From a health point of view, holding your breath while exerting yourself makes no sense. Oxygen is the most important substance to any human.
Agree.
Holding your breath is for underwater, but calmness is at the very heart of controlling all exertion, whether it's swimming or combat.
Not always. One of the rules taught to divers is to never hold your breath. Unless a pneumothorax sounds like fun.
 

punisher73

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I was taught this in Golden Bell (Iron Shirt) training. The closest western method I can think of is how powerlifters temporarily "hold" their breath to increase their strength on a lift.


I grabbed the first video that popped up on youtube.
 
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