Do not pay heed to those who advocate breathing from chest if you really want to get rid of stress. Do not listen to them if you want to practice meditation.
Unlike western gymnasium systems which emphasize on breathing from chest, eastern breathing practices advocate breathing from belly so that this center can be utilized to the full. The flat belly concept is a gift of Greek culture. If you have noticed very young kids-you will notice two perspicuous things-one-they breathe from belly-Two- they do not have flat bellies. This does not mean though that they have a lot of fat. Breathing from belly gives them chi—the nourishing life force energy and makes them innocent. If you could manage to breathe using your belly, just for an hour or so, your stress will go away.
Dantian literally means Cinnabar or Red Field and it is also translated as ‘Field of Elixir’. Dantian is generally a center near navel in stomach in human body. Dantian is also known as ‘Hara’, Dantien or Tanden. This center is of utmost importance in Tao, Buddhism and Yogic traditions. Dantian is equivalent to Yogic ‘Manipura-Chakra’. It is also known as Hara. Japanese suicide method of Samurais known as Seppuku or Hara-Kiri is based on the disembowelment but it originated based on the assumption that source of life force energy resides in Hara or Dantian and destroying it would undoubtedly result in immediate demise.
In eastern traditions, especially in the Chinese tradition, Dantian is focal point for meditative techniques, alternative therapies and martial arts. Martial artists try to focus on Dantian as a center of gravity and balance.
A number of breathing techniques like Neigong, Qigong, Neidan and Tao-Yin take into account this important center. Yogic Pranayama methods like ‘Suryabhedana Pranayama’ focus on this centre. Similar to Tao practices In Yogic Philosophy this centre is considered to be seat of life force energy which gets generated in this center and then gets distributed into the entire body.
Yogic system considers Sahastrara to be the highest center of consciousness and it’s said that it is similar to a lotus with thousand petals. When life force energy enters into Sahastrara it results into Samadhi-the highest state of consciousness. Unlike Yogic culture though, Tao has emphasized Dantian more than any other center. There are three Dantian centers according to some sources and one of them are at the top of the head-which might be similar to the Sahastrara of Yogic system. However, Dantian situated near navel remains center of utmost importance for breathing techniques in Tao.