Balloon Breathing Exercise
Breath is the source of life. The more we breathe, the more we are alive. Here is a simple, yet powerful exercise that can be done anywhere, anytime. If you can’t do the whole exercise, you will gain by doing any part of it. Just do it.
Stand, sit, or lie down comfortably. Close your eyes (after reading through this whole explanation). We will start at the bottom of the body, but can also be done starting at the top, or one can just pick out certain areas.
Using your imagination, place balloons in both ankles. Taking slow, even breaths, fill the balloons on the inhale. On the exhale, slowly empty the balloons. The breath should be even, meaning that the inhale and exhale should be the same length, say to the count of four.
Next place the balloons in your knees and repeat. Then your hip joints.
Next upper body. Wrists, elbows, shoulders.
Then the three dantiens; belly, heart, and head.
You can stop and enjoy the feeling at this point or you can put balloons in all these places at the same time and blow them all up together.
This exercise should take as little as ten minutes or up to twenty or so. It will open and energize the joints and harmonize the body. Enjoy.
Student Question and Answer
I was reading the tai chi manual now available in your website and in the section for push hands I found this quote: “I personally don’t think a student can understand Tai Chi without doing Push Hands.” Since I am following the long form free online course I became a little scared with this :). I thought that because I am only doing the form my learning effort would be meaningless and a waste of time. Is that so?
There are many levels of excellence in Tai Chi, like everything else. One can become a professional and devote one’s life to mastering a skill or talent, or one can just find much enjoyment in a practice. For instance, one can play tennis and really enjoy it, playing with friends, etc. But if one wants to become a professional, one has to devote ones’s life to perfecting the art. Same with Tai Chi. You can get many benefits from your practice, including increased concentration, strengthening of the body, ability to move energy at will, etc., but to go all the way, one needs to understand push hands. And understanding the philosophy of Tai Chi Push Hands is not the same as engaging in the physical art itself. Many great teachers of Tai Chi never did push hands, including one of my favorite teachers – Madame Gao Fu. But they surely reached some of the deepest levels possible. And no one could ever say she wasted her time.
New Class Schedule
The Gilman Studio celebrates its 46th year of expert instruction in Tai Chi, Qigong, and related topics. Winter classes start week of February 1. New beginning Tai Chi classes being offered are Senior Short Form on Fridays at 12:30 to 1:30 with John Considine and Long Form on Thursdays 5:30 to 6:30 PM with Stephanie Morrell. The rest of the schedule remains the same for this quarter. Please visit for full schedule, details, and information, or call Michael Gilman at 360 385-5027. First class is always free so come and check it out.