What Is Qi and How Can You Use It to Improve Your Health?
Qi (pronounced “chee” like in Tai Chi–a thoughtful reader pointed out that this is a different Chi, even though it sounds similar in English; Qi Gong is the same Qi though) is life force energy. It’s the energy of creation and it flows through everything that is alive. It flows through nature, it flows through rivers and it flows through your body just like blood circulates through your arteries and veins. When Qi stops flowing, life ends.
The human body has 12 primary channels or pathways for Qi to flow. The pathways are like a circulatory system for energy.
When your Qi is flowing as it should, your body is in a state of balance. You feel energized, alive and healthy. However, when your Qi is disrupted, if it’s not brought back into balance, this disruption will eventually show up as dis-ease in your physical body.
It’s easy to understand this connection when you compare the flow of Qi to a river. If the river is flowing smoothly, then the ecosystem is in balance. However, if the river is obstructed, sediment such as dirt, leaves, twigs, etc. begins to accumulate.
If it’s not cleared, the debris continues to build and plugs up the river, leading to problems upstream and downstream. Similarly, when the body’s Qi fails to flow smoothly, toxins and waste start to accumulate. This energy block can lead to a physical block such as a lump or tumour.
Conversely, if there’s not enough water flowing through the river, the banks dry out, the riverbed becomes exposed and the life teeming within the river dies off. Similarly, if there’s a deficiency of Qi in the Kidney and Spleen meridians, this can impact the flow of blood and nutrients to the limbs. Over time, this could manifest as weakness in the limbs or even muscle atrophy.
Thus, for optimal health, you need an abundance of Qi flowing smoothly throughout your body.
How to Tell Where Your Qi Is Blocked
So, how do you figure out where in your body there isn’t enough Qi or the energy isn’t flowing smoothly? In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a patient’s constitution is determined through observation and asking questions. A TCM practitioner looks at the colour, size, shape and coating of the tongue, feels for subtle characteristics in the pulse and observes things like body shape, face colour and even smell.
They’ll also ask a stream of personal questions, some of which are rather embarrassing to answer and as a student of Chinese Medicine, I’d have to say some were also pretty embarrassing to ask such as, “What colour is your stool?” or “Do you tend to get constipated or have runny stools?” (Hmm, I smell another interesting infographic idea in the style of “What Colour Is Your Snot?”
After a very thorough intake of all the signs and symptoms and factoring in how these symptoms can interact and influence each other, the practitioner will then match these against dozens of different Zang Fu (internal organ/meridian) patterns and figure out which Qi, blood, Yin and Yang patterns predominate in a patient. Phew, pretty complicated, huh?
Fortunately with Chinese Reflexology, it’s much simpler to determine where there are energy disharmonies in the body.
The major energy pathways that flow throughout your body either begin or end in your feet. Thus, your foot is a microcosm for your entire body. Reflexology points on the feet correspond to different organs and areas of your body.
If you put your feet together and imagine the shape of a human outline over top, you’ll see the approximate location of the reflex points of your body.
Any points on your feet that feel sensitive indicate Qi disharmonies in the corresponding area of your body. By massaging these points, you can begin to clear toxins and balance the flow of Qi in your entire body.
2 Ways to Boost Your Qi and Get Your Energy Flowing
1) Energy Exercise to Feel Your Qi Flowing Through Your Hands
Okay, I get it. If you’ve never really felt your Qi, how do you know it’s real? It’s a bit like the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus, OR is it?
My son is now old enough to be aware of special occasions, and his preschool seems to really embrace them. I was surprised when he came home after Halloween and started speaking about ghosts and Jack-O’-Lanterns when I had never mentioned these before. At Christmas, when he asked me about Santa Claus, I couldn’t look him straight in the eye and tell him that Santa was real.
My son isn’t like most 4-year olds. He’s like an old soul and talks about manifesting and sending love out to the people who forget to love themselves to help them remember. He’s also super brainy, so I felt like I would be lying to him if I told him that Santa was real.
I explained to him how this whole Santa thing works (even about the parents eating the cookies), but I also told him about the spirit and energy behind why people pretend there’s a Santa Claus. I explained how people want to keep the magic for their children, but we didn’t need to pretend because we already know the magic of the Universe and the love and abundance that surrounds us.
Similarly, while modern technology may not be able to measure and observe Qi (actually there are devices that do, but mainstream science doesn’t seem to accept it yet). the spirit and energy of Qi is definitely ALIVE and thriving inside us.
Try this simple exercise to FEEL your Qi:
- Stand in a relaxed posture with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and your pelvis rolled slightly forward. This is very much like the classic “ready” pose in Tai Chi.
- Hold your hands in front of your abdomen just below your belly button. Your palms should be facing each other and your arms, wrists, and hands should be loose and relaxed. Your hands should be gently curved and your fingers should be spread slightly apart as if you are holding a basketball.
- Instead of a basketball, imagine that you are holding a white ball of energy. It’s like you’re holding a giant orb of light between your hands.
- Imagine the light glowing brightly and feeling warm. As you breathe and relax, your hands will start to feel warm and your fingers tingly.
- When you start to feel these sensations, slowly move your hands. Bring them closer together and imagine the ball of energy compressing.
- Next, slowly move your hands apart as if you’re stretching the ball of energy like it’s made of molasses. Don’t move your hands too far apart as you always want to keep that feeling of energy, warmth and tingling between the palms.
- Then, imagine the energy ball jumping to your left hand and then to your right.
- Bring your hands back together, closer and closer until you feel a magnetic energy in your palms. Play around with it. It will feel similar to the sensation you feel when you bring two magnets together and they repel each other. Roll the ball between your palms, bring your hands closer together and then slightly apart. That’s YOUR Qi!
To close the exercise, imagine bringing the energy ball inside you, placing your hands over your abdomen, just below the belly button. Breathe, relax and have an awesome day!
2) Chinese Reflexology!!!
My number one recommendation for the simplest, easiest and most effective way to increase your life force energy and get your Qi flowing is to practice Chinese Reflexology.
Massaging the Chinese Reflexology points on your feet helps you:
- Find where there are energy disharmonies in your body based on which points on your feet are sensitive to massage
- Clear energy disharmonies by massaging the sensitive points on your feet
- Improve your overall health and well-being because you’re healing at the energy level
Try massaging your feet right now. Grab a foot and press on the sole with your thumb. If it’s difficult to reach your foot, it’s a sign to start stretching more and get more active.
A really good stretch to make it easier to massage your feet is the butterfly stretch. Here’s my really weird drawing showing you how to do this stretch.
I’m not sure why I added a Snoopy head on the picture other than I was having fun and Snoopy is one of my favourite cartoon characters.
Practicing this stretch will help you access all of the amazing points on the soles of your feet. However, of all the points on your feet to massage, the one that is of greatest benefit for your overall health and longevity is the Kidney point. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys are considered the “root of life.” They govern everything from reproduction and bone health to hearing loss and grey hair.
To help you learn how to locate the Kidney point and feel for energy disharmonies in your feet, I created Chinese Reflexology foot charts and a series of mini online lessons just for you. And the best part is… (drum roll, please)…they’re FREE. So, sign up for your free charts and lessons and get your Qi flowing!
Now, go out and have an awesome day and live an awesome life!
Wishing You Amazing Health and Vitality,
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