By Carolanne Wright

Back in 1983, renowned Taoist master Mantak Chia introduced to the West a practice which has revolutionised the way we view healing — bone breathing. One of the first students to learn the technique was a middle aged woman from Los Angeles, California, who was rapidly losing bone mass in her spine. Despite treatment from a range of specialists, her spine continued to deteriorate. She was told the eventual outcome of the disorder would be a full spinal collapse — leading to such severe damage of the nervous system that she would be paralysed and have her life cut short.

Needless to say, when she learned about bone breathing and the potential it held to heal her, she immediately enrolled in the class and embarked on a daily routine following the practices. For three hours each day, she continuously worked with the breathing exercises. She also adopted a special posture while standing to align herself in the most efficient way for receiving universal energies. Since the skeleton is viewed in Taoism as an antenna for these energies, the positioning of the body is crucial.

“Within six months of practice she not only arrested bone mass loss but also began reversing the process and gained some 10% of the mass back. The doctors who had been treating her were at a loss to explain the reversal. Within three years of continued practise she began to appreciably regain bone mass and at the end of five years had replaced 100% her bone mass without indications that there had ever been osteoporosis.”

Apparently, this is not an isolated case. Since first introduced in the 1980’s, similar stories of seemingly miraculous healing have been reported by people throughout the West. The practice has also been successfully used for the accelerated healing of broken bones and torn ligaments. Moreover, bone breathing helps to boost immunity, increase sexual energy, calm the mind, promote relaxation and reduce stress.

Taoist Masters and the Legacy of Bone Breathing

The ancient Taoist masters of China developed the practice of bone breathing as a yogic exercise for developing higher consciousness and opening the highest human potential. These simple breathing practices were also found to significantly regenerate bone marrow. The masters recognised long ago that — like all energy processes — the human body ages and is subject to the laws of change and decay. The human skeleton is especially sensitive to this natural progression. They also realised that the bones are the most dense aspect of the body, where the crystalline microstructure is conductive to absorbing and transmitting the energies of the earth and beyond.

“The ancient Taoists understood the human skeleton as an antenna channelling the necessary energies to sustain life and at the same time serving as a communication medium for broadcasting energy frequencies through the structure of meridians and vital organs.”

Once the Taoists identified these properties, they were inspired to develop a method to maintain the skeletal structure and curb the process of decay and weakening. Subsequently, bone breathing was born.

Reversing Progressive Bone Loss

As babies, our bones are heavy and dense with red marrow. Over time, this bone mass deteriorates due to poor diet and lack of physical exercise — and the red marrow is replaced with a fatty white marrow. Progressive reduction of density soon follows, making our bones more porous and frail.

The main focus of bone breathing is not the gross breath that enters through the nostrils, but instead what is called the subtle breath — which is universal energy absorbed through every pore of the skin. The subtle breath is directed to the bone marrow through our attention. For instance, the exercise begins by focusing the awareness on the tip of the index finger, then slowly drawing attention up the length of the bone.

“This simple action activates a very powerful law of energy that states that any place in our bodies we place our attention a flow of energy is generated in that direction. By moving the attention from the tip of the index finger to the wrist over and over again warmth, tingling, heaviness or a subtle vibration of the finger may be experienced.

The warmth or heaviness that may follow is an indication that the exercise is generating energy flow within the bone.”

One of the basic laws of Taoism is that if the body has good energy flow, health follows. Whereas if energy is blocked or restricted, illness manifests. Taoists also believe that the “Tao begins with feeling.” If there is no feeling, the practice can easily become just a mental exercise of little value. Ultimately, bone breathing is a means of absorbing the subtle energies of trees, rivers, sun, moon and stars. Today, the practice is viewed as a path to maintain healthy bones and immunity, while also encouraging an “ocean of calmness.”