Get back to basics with the practice of Dahnjon Breathing, a form of abdominal breathing rooted in ancient Korean energy principles, and re-energize your vitality and well-being.
When things feel topsy turvy in our lives, it’s often best to return to basics. What could be more fundamental than breathing? The rhythm of our breath not only keeps us alive, it helps us connect to the rhythm of all life. From breathing, our physical body feels nourished, our energy gets replenished, and our minds go into a meditative state from which we can enliven our spirit.
Consciously breathing, with our mind focused on our breath, can especially help us feel our hearts and let us connect our body and minds. We return to ourselves, our centers, and from there, everything else in our lives gets put into perspective. Moreover, we gain the physical, heart, and brain power we need to find the solutions we seek and move forward.
There are many types of conscious breathing exercises, which have been developed and used over thousands of years. I would like to introduce you to the basics of Dahnjon Breathing, which is a form of abdominal breathing.
What Is a Dahnjon?
Dahn is a Korean word that means life, power, energy, or ki (chi), and jon signifies a field, base, or foundation. So dahnjon implies a field of energy where ki is concentrated, stored, and cultivated. There are seven of these fields of energy. Three exist inside our bodies and four rest on the surface—one each on the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet. The lower internal dahnjon can be found two inches below our navel and two inches inside our abdomen. The middle internal dahnjon lies in the center of our chests, while the upper internal dahnjon fills the center of our brains.
Dahnjon Breathing involves the lower dahnjon. In this dahnjon, our physical power, courage, and sexual energy are stored. It is the foundation of our vitality and acts like a furnace that burns fuel to power the entire energy system of our bodies.
Besides the dahnjons, our energy system consists of energy pathways called meridians and energy points, or acupressure/acupunture points. The most important thing to know about our energy system is that it needs to be full of energy and that energy needs to flow through all of it smoothly and freely. If our energy becomes too weak, gets stuck somewhere, or builds up too much in one place, then problems in our bodies, minds, or emotions can manifest.
Different forms of Dahnjon Breathing let us accumulate the energy we need in our lower dahnjons while circulating it throughout our bodies.
How to Do Dahnjon Breathing
While Dahnjon Breathing essentially consists of the lower abdomen rising smoothly with each inhale and falling with each exhale, I’ve devised different series of postures in which to do it. We can get faster and more wonderful benefits from using different postures in a particular order than we would from breathing in one posture. The flow of postures reflect the process of growing from a baby to an adult. We begin lying down, we turn over, crawl, sit, and finally stand.
There are nine levels of comprehensive and systemic exercise based on the philosophical and physiological meaning of each posture. The nine levels are composed of three lying (from levels 9 to 7), three sitting (from levels 6 to 4), and three standing (from levels 3 to 1) levels. Each level is comprised of five consecutive basic postures and one simple but profound energy circulation exercise that is a mind exercise to control the inner energy in the body. We start with Level 9 and advanced to Level 1.
Here is the posture sequence for Level 9 Dahnjon Breathing:
In Level 9, we learn the basic ways to relax our bodies and minds and to accumulate energy. We start by scanning our bodies with our minds. Then we visualize the whole body in the mind while breathing naturally, without forcing our breaths. If we get distracted, we can scan our bodies once again to help us refocus. In addition to keeping our focus on our bodies, this visualization helps direct the flow of energy as we breathe.
Hold each posture for two to five minutes to start. With regular practice, you can lengthen the amount of time in each posture if you would like to.
- Lie comfortably with both legs about shoulder-width apart. Put both palms on the lower dahnjon with the thumbs together while forming a triangle with the other fingers.
- Bring your mind to the following sequence of body areas: face → neck → chest → abdomen → lower dahnjon → shoulders → elbows → lower dahnjon → thighs → knees → calves → toes.
- As you bring your mind to each part, try to relax that area. If you remain tense, however, put your hands on the floor to prevent the energy from going up into your head.
- Slowly bend your left leg and pull it toward the trunk of your body so that your left knee is in the air and your left foot is resting on the ground near your right knee but a little away from it.
- Keep your left hand on the lower dahnjon while you clench your right hand with the thumb inside the fist. Rest your fist at the base of the skull under your head. Keep your shoulders and arms relaxed.
- Visualize your face → neck → chest → abdomen → lower dahnjon → left shoulder → left elbow → left hand → lower dahnjon → right thigh → right knee → right calf → right toes.
- Switch the position of both hands and legs so that your right leg is bent and your left fist is underneath the base of your skull.
- Visualize your face → neck → chest → abdomen → lower dahnjon → right shoulder → right elbow → right hand → lower dahnjon → left thigh → left knee → left calf → left toes.
- Bend the left leg like the right one so that both knees are in the air with the feet flat on the ground shoulder-width apart.
- Make both hands the same as Posture 2 so that the left palm is on the lower dahnjon and the right fist is under the base of the skull.
- Visualize your face → neck → chest → abdomen → lower dahnjon → left shoulder → left elbow → left hand → lower dahnjon → both thighs → both knees → both calves → both toes → both yongchun points at the bottom of the soles → both calves → both knees → both thighs → lower dahnjon.
- Change the position of your hands to the same as that in Posture 3. Your right palm is on your lower abdomen and your left fist is under the base of your skull.
- Keep both knees in the air.
- Visualize your face → neck → chest → abdomen → lower dahnjon → right shoulder → right elbow → right hand → lower dahnjon → both thighs → both knees → both calves → both toes → both yongchun points at the bottom of the soles → both calves → both knees → both thighs → lower dahnjon.
Energy circulation (Jigam exercise)
- Sit with your spine straight in a cross-legged or half-lotus position. Place both hands on the knees.
- Slowly raise both hands in front of your chest with palms facing each other a few inches apart.
- Move both hands farther apart very slowly, then closer together. Repeat this motion several times.
- Feel the sensations of your palms while you make the movements. Then bring your consciousness to the lower dahnjon.
Tips and Suggestions for Dahnjon Breathing
Before doing Dahnjon Breathing, stretching or tapping the body can be helpful for relaxing body and mind and going deeper into the breathing exercise. Try to maintain an open mind as you practice, accepting all the phenomena that you see inside and to do the exercise sincerely.
One of the phenomena you may notice is shaking or vibration. This can happen when accumulated energy in the lower dahnjon begins to flow into the meridian channels, opening up the blocked points. It’s like when a kink in a hose full of flowing water suddenly gets released. Vibration can also occur when our minds open wide to the strong magnetic or electrical power of the life energy around our bodies and our inner energy then meets the universal energy around us.
We may also find ourselves tearing up or crying if stuck energy from around the heart, or middle dahnjon, starts to circulate.
With even just one Dahnjon Breathing sequence to practice, we are able to experience many deeper and more diverse feelings and physical and mental changes if we practice diligently yet gently. Through these experiences, we may come to understand and study a human being as an integrated whole and a microcosm of the universe.
Editor’s Note: If you want to learn more breathing postures and other related exercises, check out a Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi center near you.
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