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Daoist Meditation Lesson 2: Kidney Breathing, Qi & Dan Tian

We use the diaphragm every time we breathe, so why make a big deal about diaphragmatic breathing? In these lessons and in general, the term “diaphragmatic breathing” – what the Chinese call ‘Dantian Breathing’ or simply, “Kidney Breathing” – refers to letting the lower abdomen expand on inhalation, and contract slightly on exhalation.

What is Kidney (Diaphragmatic) Breathing?

Letting the lower abdomen expand and contract results in breathing that is slow and deep. Why is this important? Many of us primarily use only the top part of the diaphragm and lungs to breathe. This results in shallow chest breathing, breathing which does not fully utilize diaphragm, the muscles of the ribcage, the upper back and the deep back muscles – all of which have attachments to the diaphragm. The richest blood flow and perfusion of oxygen occurs in the lower lungs. If airflow to this area is not optimal, then perfusion of oxygen into the blood is reduced [1]. Only by ventilating the lower lungs can we optimize the flow of oxygen to the cells.

The diaphragm is a strong dome-shaped muscle that divides the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. As we saw in Lesson 1, many of our internal organs have direct or indirect attachments to the diaphragm, so that its movement in breathing directly effects the

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