Moment for Mindfulness in Ai Chi: Focus on Breath and tongue position

Did you realize that your resting tongue position can affect your whole body? In research published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2018, Bordoni et al found that not only is the tongue important for tasting, mastication, swallowing and talking, but it affects overall muscular function throughout the body. Positioning the tongue at rest just behind the teeth at the “palatine spot” on the roof of your mouth versus the mouth floor promotes by increased vagus nerve activity and influences general neuromuscular control. This includes activation of the diaphragm, which is not only important for breathing, but for core strength through inter-abdominal pressure regulation. Chilean physical therapist and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) expert Mariano Rocabado uses tongue clicking in his TMJ exercise regimens to locate the palatine spot.

Today, as you turn your attention to mindful breathing, focus on your breath with curiosity rather than with concern or worry. Being mindful is about noticing without judgment. If you are distracted, note the distraction and bring your attention back to the act of breathing. Let one hand rest on your belly as a cue to allow for space for your diaphragm to drop rather than restricting breath to the upper chest. Place the end of your tongue just behind your teeth on the roof of your mouth as you breathe in through your nose. What does that feel like? Where is the air going? Notice your stomach expanding outward into your hand to make space for the air.. What does it feel like as you let the air gently exit your body as it will, through pursed lips? Focus on your breathing for several cycles as you are able. A focused warm-up and contemplating are great initial steps in the water to incorporate breathing with mindfulness.

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We’ll look at focused warm-ups in our next Moment for Mindfulness in Ai Chi…

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Writen by mpierce

MS PT, Northwestern University; BS PT, St Louis University; CEEAA; ATRIC; Ai Chi Trainer since 2015; De-Mystifying Mindfulness by Universiteit Leiden on Coursera, Certificate earned on November 4, 2017;

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