I appreciate everyone participating in this new format and welcome to everyone coming for the first time. We are working to keep our regular class schedule going so it will be easier to return to our training together.
Please share any comments, suggestions or questions.
This difficult time; while we wish it was not going on, is an opportunity to deepen our practice by appreciating what is really important to us and what we can let go of-The Heart of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pg. 47).
In our last on-line class we continued our series of classes focusing on center. We worked with a practice that was a core principle from O Sensei, chinkon kishin. This refers to calming the spirit and returning to the divine or the source. The breathing practices related to chinkon kishin O Sensei called the Breath of Heaven; Breath of Earth and the Breath of Human Beings-The Secret Teachings of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pg. 108).
Our Aikido technique will be ten-chi nage.
Let’s bow in and start with misogi breathing and a good full warm-up.
Five Principles for Ki Breathing
Breathing tip of the day
Our tip today on the misogi breathing is to visualize your exhalation as a triangle; inhaling as a circle and pause in between as a square. This follows O Sensei’s principle of the three shapes triangle; circle and square.
- Breathe out with the sound of HA, don’t let your breath just leak out
- Breathe out as calmly and quietly as possible
- Breathe out the Ki of your head to the Ki of your toes
- Breathe in from the tip of your nose until your body is full of air
- Calm your mind infinitely smaller at the one point after inhaling
- Let’s begin with a round of practice with the technique.
- Begin with the practice on ten-chi nage.
- Get feedback on the technique to establish a baseline to use for comparison as the practice progresses.
Deeper Experience of Center Through Breath of Heaven, Earth and Human
- Let’s begin where we left off on Thursday with the rowing exercise (kogi-fune undo). Place particular emphasis on the hips moving first before the hands and arms. The rowing exercise is an ancient Shinto practice from the yamabushi, the mountain ascetics. O Sensei’s version came from a famous teacher, Bonji Kawatsura, who reputedly learned form a mountain wizard who was 697 years old.
- Let’s return to the technique to see how this round of circle/center practice with the addition of the rowing exercise has enhanced our performance of the technique.
- The rowing exercise has given us a good basic center from which the rest of our practices can build. Now let’s go more deeply into the first of the chinkon kishin breathing exercises, the Breath of Heaven. This starts with the hands resting on your legs. Then the hands move in front of your center and up the center line of your body as you inhale.
Then the palms turn outward and circle down back to your center with the hands crossed over each other as you exhale. The goal of the practice is to touch the divine source and bring it into your own center.
The practice is described in detail in Aikido the Way of Harmony by John Stevens (pgs. 31-33). It is also illustrated on our Group Facebook Page.
As we go through a second round with this practice visualize the movement of heavenly energy as water circulating throughout your body, emanating from your center and spine.
- Let’s return to the technique to see how the Breath of Heaven practice has enhanced our performance of the technique.
Then moving on to a deeper experience of the next practice the Breath of Earth. This practice starts with hands in front of your center palms up with the thumbs pointing toward each other. There is a starting exhalation which focuses on aligning the shoulders and upper body with the hips. Next is an inhalation with the shoulders rising slightly. Then an exhalation with the breath focused on center and the shoulders relaxing.
The goal of the practice is to touch the life giving fecundity of the earth and bring it into your center. The practice is described in detail in Aikido the Way of Harmony by John Stevens (pg. 34).
As we go through a second round with this practice visualize the movement of grounded earth energy as steam, from the interaction with the water energy of the breath of heaven, circulating from your center and spine throughout your body, connecting you deeply to the earth.
- Let’s return to the technique to see how the Breath of Earth practice has enhanced our performance of the technique.
- Then moving on to a deeper experience of the next practice the Breath of Human Being. This practice starts with hands in front of your center palms up with the thumbs pointing toward each other. Then visualize the energies of heaven and earth coming together in you center. Our goal is to experience through our center the fullness of our humanity as the blending of heaven and earth. The practice is described in detail in Aikido the Way of Harmony by John Stevens (pg. 35).
As we go through a second round with this practice visualize the energies of the breath of heaven and the breath of earth giving birth to you the human being, through the life-giving steam like energy,-The Heart of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pg. 48 and pg. 103).
- Let’s return to the technique to see how the Breath of Human practice has enhanced our performance of the technique.
This series of classes is designed to offer a deeper and multi-dimensional experience of center. The more vibrant and alive the experience of center the easier it is to maintain center as we go through our regular daily activities. Today we worked to create the experience of a deeper fuller center by adding some of the alchemical imagery from O Sensei to the breathing practices from our Thursday class.
Feedback and discussion.
The Secret Teachings of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pg. 56).
Practice before next class
Practice the three breaths with the added alchemical imagery before a daily life activity and see how it enhances your ability to accomplish the task you selected.
Finish with misogi breathing and bowing out.