Skin breathing! Sounds pretty awesome and it does some pretty amazing things. For one, yes this is a qi gong technique and not a matter of observing your skin exchanging oxygen. It’s a powerful and simple technique for detoxifying and re-energizing ourselves.
Energy talk aside for a moment though, this technique has straight forward physiological benefits. It taps into your skins detoxification pathways and supports its ability to breathe naturally and exchange oxygen – which can only help keep it healthy. Yes, your skin does breathe on it’s own, and your largest organ with one of your body’s main means for detoxification. For instance, as we detoxify our internals any released toxin can show up in effects on our skin, and as far as oxygen, our skin exchanges it continuously. Take body paint for instance – because it’s fun. Before body paint worked with our skin, anyone that tried painting their whole body for any given reason would start to feel off or a little sick if they kept it on for some time. Some would also describe a feeling of feeling like they needed to breathe even though their mouth and nose weren’t covered. Plus there’s also the aspect of our skin being semi permeable, absorbing some from what it comes into contact with. With all of this, we can see that there is a back and forth flow through our skin. Utilizing the skin breathing technique in qi gong connects you to these physiological mechanisms and supports your skin’s natural process of cleansing toxins from your body, and keeping itself well oxygenated.
Has science conducted deep dive clinical trials of this, not to my knowledge. I am highly respectful of science given my background in engineering, but science sometimes takes some time to catch up. Similar to how it did with meditation,and mindfulness, or measuring of the qi that a healer can generate at their hand.
Which leads us into the concept of qi. Skin breathing flows life force (Qi, Prana, Electro magnetic energy) from your environment through your skin and vice versa – exchanging the bad or stagnant from within with the good and the fresh from outside. Teaching you how to detoxify energetically using the good qi from around you. Breathing in (through our nose of course), and combining that with a feeling and subconscious intention of pulling good energy from around you in through your skin. Then breathing out the stagnant qi that’s been displaced by the good stuff. Breathing the “old” qi back out through your skin and releasing it. Breathing in soft and long and breathing out soft and long. Keeping yourself connected to the sensations on your skin and in your body. Too much force in your breath will just distract you from getting it at first. It’s important that we not over think this though. It’s a meditative technique so you can’t do it with logic. We use our intention and sense that we’re connecting to good energy from all around us.
What’s stagnant Qi? This concept is a big part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and essentially describes any circulation that’s been sitting and/or energy that’s been stuck in a particular part of us that just needs to move. Kind of like standing water that needs to be cleaned up and made fresh or have flow created in it.
Breathing in the good qi displaces the bad, and breathing out will allow us to feel the shedding of the old. The more you practice it, the more connected you become to what’s happening and the more you understand what it can do. It will also be easier to connect to it through the arms or any part of us that’s not covered by clothing (or body paint ☺ ).
Once you get the hang of it, you can do this pretty much anywhere. Standing, sitting, waiting in line, combining it with your yoga practice, and the list goes on. First start with practice, and if anything still doesn’t make sense, reach out and ask away.
Mike Popovici is a Life Coach, Guide, Qi Gong & Mindfulness Instructor, and founder of Phoenix Internal Arts Academy.