In Qi Gong, we work with a variety of exercises to let go of old energy, bring in fresh Qi, and balance our body’s internal state. By doing so, we’re able to release stress, process our life’s experiences, and cultivate nourishing energy throughout our mind, body, and emotions.

While every Qi Gong exercise contributes to the quality of our practice, each has its own purpose and intention. If we reflect on Lee’s classes, we’ll notice that there’s a special flow in the way that he teaches. This alchemy of exercises helps us to maximize the benefits of each practice he offers.

In Lee’s classes, he often refers to terms such as “tonify,” “purge,” and “regulate.” Although he always seeks to provide context for the specific exercises he teaches, there is only so much explaining that can happen during a Qi Gong class. Therefore, we decided to offer a blog post to explore three of the core intentions (and vocabulary words) of Qi Gong: purging, tonifying, and regulating.

Purging

In order to cultivate new, nourishing energy, it’s important to first let go of anything that’s holding us back. Whether we’re feeling stressed, anxious, or emotionally burdened, Qi Gong offers practices for releasing old energy so we can create space to grow. This process is called “purging.”

This principle of letting go doesn’t just apply to Qi Gong. Just think of a time when you felt old patterns or emotions preventing you from moving on. Sometimes, unresolved feelings from an old relationship can inhibit us from having the spaciousness to welcome new experiences. On a more immediate level, stress from the day’s challenges can create an annoying obstacle to relaxing in the evening.

Stress, anger, regret, and fear are a few examples of emotions that can keep us from experiencing the opportunities that exist in the present moment. While all of these are important to acknowledge, we have a choice about how we want to respond to them. 

In our Qi Gong practice, we seek to identify energies that are holding us back and purge them from our internal energy system. In Chinese Medicine, we call negative energy “pathogenic Qi.” By letting go of pathogenic Qi, we’re able to create spaciousness within our being and rid our body of energy that could threaten our health. 

Part of the reason that Qi Gong is so effective for this process is due to the somatic nature of stress, anxiety, and emotional disharmony. In other words, emotions and stress are physical experiences, not just intellectual. Therefore, it’s important that we work with them on a physical level, and that is exactly what Qi Gong helps us to do.

In our Qi Gong practice, most purging exercises involve clearing movements, shaking, or deep exhales through the mouth. Sometimes, stretching movements can also be purging exercises since they help to release tension in the muscles. 

The healing sounds are another wonderful example of a purging practice that helps us to let go of pathogenic Qi. Once we’ve purged and let go of everything we want to leave behind, it’s time to tonify…

Tonifying

If you felt confused when you first heard the word “tonify,” you’re not alone. There aren’t too many other places that the word is used, but in Qi Gong, tonifying plays an important role in our practice. 

Tonifying is the opposite of purging. After we’ve released old energy, we direct our intention to bring in new energy, as well as strengthening the Qi that is already within us.

To bring in new energy, we often connect to the sources of Qi that constantly surround us. For example, in the Five Elements practices, we seek to find nourishment from the natural world and learn from its wisdom. Similarly, in the Three Treasures, we connect to the energies of the earth, nature, and of the universe to cultivate strength and vitality in our body, emotions, and mind. 

When we tune in to the abundance of Qi that exists all around, we’re able to welcome in the gifts of the world that are always available to us. This is possible because humans are a microcosm of the entire universe. The same energies that exist in our external world also live within us. Therefore, Qi Gong can teach us how to cultivate these natural wonders.

In addition to bringing Qi into our beings, tonifying exercises also help us to strengthen the energy that is already inside. Love, peace, and joy are some of the more important qualities to nurture within ourselves. We all contain these energies, and Qi Gong practices can help to strengthen and bring them to the forefront of our consciousness.

Most tonifying exercises work with flowing movements, postures, or breathing practices. While breathing practices for purging work with inhaling through the nose and deep exhales through the mouth, tonifying breathing practices use inhaling and exhaling only through the nose. 

Regulating

Once we’ve let go of pathogenic Qi and cultivated nourishing energy, it’s time to ensure that we’re well balanced. Regulating is the process of making sure that our internal energy is balanced and in harmony. 

Even if our practice brings us into a state in which we feel energized, joyful, and inspired, it’s still important that we have the right balance of energies within us.

For example, being energized and full of joy is wonderful, but it’s also important to be grounded and connected with ourselves. 

Being excited and inspired to work hard is a great thing, but it’s also important to take care of our needs and remember the other important elements in our life, such as friends and family.

Feeling lots of love for a partner can help us build a healthy relationship, but it’s also important to maintain our own individuality and take time for ourselves.

As these examples highlight, even when we cultivate an abundance of positive qualities, we still need to make sure that we are centered and balanced.

In Qi Gong, we work with a variety of practices to balance our internal energies and maintain harmony with ourselves. The microcosmic Orbit is one exercise that helps us to both cultivate energy as well as ensure that our Qi is balanced and flowing within us. 

Although some practices are used more than others for regulating, each person’s needs are different. Therefore, different practices will be useful for each individual when it comes to finding balance. For example, if one person has a deficiency of the fire element, they may want to focus on practices that cultivate that element. On the other hand, if someone has a surplus of the fire element but is lacking the water element, they may want to focus on practices for the water element.

Choosing the right regulating practices for ourselves is similar to choosing the right way to manage our body’s temperature. If one person is feeling hot, they may want to jump into the cold ocean or put on a T-shirt. If another person is cold, they’ll probably prefer to get into a hot tub or put on a winter jacket. 

Just like each person has different needs to keep their temperature balanced, we all have different exercises that help us to regulate and balance our own internal energy. If you’re interested in learning more practices and how to tell what your individual needs are, be sure to check out Lee’s Video Class Subscription…

Video Class Subscription

At Holden QiGong, one of our most popular programs is the Video Class Subscription.

All of these classes are taught by Lee and are streamed online, so you can enjoy them from the comfort of your own home. Each class is unique, so students have the chance to learn a vast variety of different practices. The Video Class Subscription is a wonderful way to learn more about Qi Gong or to help cultivate a healthy habit.

Even though Lee’s students aren’t with him in his studio during each class, there is still something very calming about knowing that you’re part of a large group practicing at the same time all around the world. Click on the banner below to learn more or sign up today.

Written by Ian Drogin