The following is an excerpt from the 7 principles of Russian Breathing according to Vladimir Vasiliev with commentary by Systema SLC. For more information pick up Let Every Breath: the Secrets of the Russian Breath Masters.
1.Pathway – Breath in through the nose, out through the mouth.
This advice MAY surprise practitioners of Taiji or Yoga because they are taught many benefits to breathing in and out the nose. Note that while exhaling through the mouth, the tongue cannot easily touch the hard palate at the top of the mouth. The place where the tongue touches the hard palate (make the “l” sound as in “let”) is the acupuncture point where the Du (governor (yang)) channel, which moves upward along the back of the body, and Ren (conception (yin)) channel, which moves downward along the front of the body, meet. Together, these two channels form the Qi pathway called the “microcosmic orbit.” When the tongue touches the hard palate, the circuit between Du and Ren are closed and the movement of Qi may continuously balance energy and stimulate the body’s meridians.
Another argument for breathing in and out through the nose is that it is natural for most people. There is nothing wrong with breathing in and out through the nose, however, exhaling through the nose creates tension in the body when quicker exhales are required.
The Six-Syllable Secret requires practitioners to exhale through the mouth. Most people have experienced a sense of relief when they sigh, which creates the sound “ha” or “her” (without pronunciation of hard sound “r”.)
Exhaling from the mouth expels air quicker so there is less pressure and less tension created on the exhale. Typically, this is not a problem for practitioners of Taiji or Yoga because they work slowly and calmly. Likewise, when we are about our daily activities, we pace ourselves and may often breath in and out the nose without a problem. Tension becomes a problem in situations where it is difficult to relax or if the activity requires quicker breathing patterns. In case of physical exertion (squatting, going to the floor, brisk walking, running, quick movements, etc.) or fear, exhaling out the nose is way too slow to catch your breath and will cause more tension and fear as your body loses oxygen. In fact, exhaling through the mouth is a natural way to expel tension.
The Burst Breath is ideal for situations where you need to catch your breath.
Burst Breathing is not a deep breath or a gasp; it is rapid, short inhales through the nose and exhales through the mouth. The waist expands during a short exhale, like when you cough.
Burst Breathing works well when you are running out of energy because it can give you an extra push or pull in the right direction and it will decrease muscle fatigue. Conclusion: There is a time and a place for everything. Breathe out through the mouth when required and then return to natural breathing.