Fall 2014 Series: 4 Months To Better Breathing

Would you like to learn to breathe better – with deeper, longer, more relaxed, and more relaxing breaths?

This Fall, BTC Founder Bill Ryan and Energy Arts Certified Instructor Ana Popa are offering a series of four monthly Taoist Breathing workshops to help you do save just that.

Taoist Breathing is the single most important qigong practice of our Taoist Water Tradition. It is a wonderful practice to do on its own that easily integrates in all aspects of daily life. It also is the core internal practice within all of our tai chi, qigong, bagua, and meditation arts.


In this series we’ll offer two tracks of instruction in foundational Taoist Breathing practices.

Level 1: Whole Body Breathing and Relaxation For Level 1, throughout the four months we’ll teach you how:

  • to fully use your lung capacity by expanding your lungs downwards, backwards, sidewards, and upwards into your lower, middle and upper back, ribs, and abdomen, rather than upward and forward into your chest.
  • to maintain even pressures within the front, back, and sides of your torso with each inhale and exhale.
  • to use your breathing to relax your whole body and quiet your mind.
  • to put Taoist breathing into tai chi and qigong practices.

Level 2: Longer, Smoother Breathing from Your Core Through the four months we’ll teach you how:

  • to balance your inhales and exhales.
  • to release what binds your breathing in your body and mind so that you can let it gradually elongate.
  • to breathe energy up and down the core of your body to allow your breathing to further elongate and become quieter and smoother.

Those who would like to learn the material in Level 2 must already be familiar with the techniques taught in Level 1.

Series Details

This series began on September 7, but you may attend any of these workshops even if you missed those in September, as long as you otherwise meet their prerequisites.
In each workshop we will thoroughly review the material taught in the previous workshop.


Dates and Topics:

  • September 7:
    • Introduction (1 hour)
    • Level 1: Breathing to Relax Your Nervous System, Breathe into and Relax Your Abdomen and Lower Sides (2.75 hours) 
    • Level 2: How to Balance Your Inhales and Exhales (1.25 hours)
  • October 5:
    • Introduction (1 hour)
    • Level 1: Breathing to Relax Your Whole Body, Breathe into and Relax Your Lower Back (2.75 hours)
    • Level 2: Lengthen Your Breath through Letting Go (1.25 hours)
  • November 9:
    • Level 1: Breathing to Calm Your Mind, Breathe into and Relax Your Middle and Upper Back (3.5 hours)
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    • Level 2: Let Go of Your Breathing Expectations and Beliefs (1.5 hours)
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  • December 14:
    • Level 1: Breathing to Relax Where You Hold Your Stress, Breathe into and Relax Your Upper Lungs (3.5 hours)
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    • Level 2: Breathe Energy through the Core of Your Body (1.5 hours)
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Guided Practice Materials

After each workshop we’ll send you suggested practice schedules and guided practice audios. During each workshop we will help you assess your progress.

Teachers – Over 40 Years of Experience

The workshops will be taught by Bill Ryan and Ana Popa. Bill founded Brookline Tai Chi in 1992, is an Energy Arts Senior Instructor, and has been practicing Taoist breathing for over 30 years. Ana is an Energy Arts certified Taoist Breathing instructor who began her studies at BTC in 2007.

Teaching Approach – New and Different

The way these workshops will be taught is different than the way Bill and other teachers at BTC taught this material during his tenure at BTC. Since then he, Kathryn Komidar, and Ana have been learning and exploring different methods of teaching breathing that have a greater emphasis on relaxation and conscious use of the diaphragm. This approach enables you to unlock what binds your breathing in a much deeper and satisfying way.

So even if you have experience with Taoist Breathing, you may want to attend both levels, and review and expand what you know.

“I am glad that I attended the seminar yesterday. I hadn’t realized how far I had strayed from diaphragmatic breathing. I regained much of the expansion I previously had along with other benefits. Returning to the basics often has a profound effect on moving forward. I am eager to see how this manifests in my practice.Chuck Shaw Brighton, MA 16 year BTC student

These will be the last Level 1 workshops that Brookline Tai Chi will offer for at least a year. Ana may offer additional Level 2 workshops if there is sufficient interest after this series.

Why Learn Taoist Longevity Breathing?

Learning to breathe well is the most important practice anyone can learn. After all, we breathe 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from birth to death.

Our teacher, Bruce Frantzis, once said that if enough people would attend, he would teach Taoist Longevity Breathing all day long, every day. In this manner, he felt that he could bring the most benefit to the most people.

Unfortunately, in Western societies, almost no one breathes well. Most of us breathe shallowly and irregularly high up in our chests, using just a small fraction of our lung capacity. We also constantly hold our breaths. Our breathing usually is a source of tension and anxiety, not of relaxation and calm.

The one group of people in our society – and in all societies – who do breathe well are babies and very young children. They breathe naturally and deeply, and all parts of their bodies move with each breath. As young children grow up, however, they usually rather quickly acquire the breathing habits of those around them and lose their natural breathing capacities.

According to the oral history of our tradition, Taoists developed our Longevity Breathing methods by observing babies and very young children. They learned how to shed their own acquired breathing habits in order to breathe naturally again.

In the course of doing so, they found that such breathing gave them:

  • deep relaxation of their entire bodies
  • calm and quiet minds (and nervous systems)
  • greater energy
  • better health
  • more balanced emotions
  • long and vibrant lives,
  • and – if they wished – a pathway into meditation and spirituality.

Over time the Taoists of our tradition extended and deepened their breathing practices even further, often drawing their inspiration from other beings of the natural world with great command of their breathing. For example, those in our tradition who reach the level where they can breathe slowly, smoothly, and continuously with repeated 4-minute inhales and 4-minute exhales are known as “turtle breathers.”

The methods of Longevity Breathing have been incorporated into all the qigong/neigong, tai chi, bagua, hsing-i, and meditation practices of our tradition. Longevity Breathing is the foundation and core internal practice of all of our arts. It is a “must learn” method for anyone who is studying our arts.

We invite you to join us to begin to learn – or continue your previous study of – Taoist Longevity Breathing. By doing so, you will not learn a new way to breathe. Instead you’ll learn how to relax and release everything in you that prevents you from breathing naturally.

You already know how to breathe naturally, because you beautifully did so as a child. We’ll help you rediscover how.