The practitioners of Qigong don’t think about themselves and about the world as exclusively physical manifestations which present just one of vibrational levels of the human existence. Through the practice of Qigong we are becoming (again) aware of our energy body and we get to feel it more and more. We become aware of the mutual influence between our body and our surrounding. This connection exists all the time, no matter if we acknowledge it or not, otherwise we wouldn’t be alive. The energy in our body circulates all the time, flow to and flow out. But there are significant differences in the effectiveness of this flow in each person. It manifests in a physical and psychic health, vitality, creativity… Qigong offers us the knowledge how to consciously regulate this energy.
Five major Energy Gates
In Chinese Qigong we use five major energy gates. These are points or centers through which the qi of the body communicates with the qi outside the body. These gates are two Yongquan points (K-1) on our feet, two Laogong points (PC-8) on our palms and Baihui (GV-20) on the top of the head.
These five gates are the key for the regulation of body energy. In Qigong our aim is to become able to regulate efficiently the flow of energy through these gates. The gates work in both ways. We can feel what is happening outside of us and we can also feel what is happening inside of us. We learn how to lead out the excess of heat and how to absorb the Qi from the nature which in Qigong is considered more pure than the Qi that we acquire from food and from air.
Why is the regulation of five gates important?
In every style of Chinese Qigong the regulation of energy through five gates is very important. Practitioners of medical qigong, for example, practice with Laogong points on the palms to increase their healing power. In Qigong, especially in moving qigong, and in internal martial arts (Taijiquan, Baguazhang…) these are essential for our balance and stability, for so called “internal roots”. This aspect is connected with the work on Yongquan points, the two gates on the feet. In martial arts , working with the gates on the feet and on the palms is crucial also for more efficient leading of qi into limbs. It is also through this practice that we increase the sensitivity for the opponent’s qi, so called “skin listening” that we develop in internal martial arts.
To regulate efficiently the qi at five gates, we have to learn to breathe through these gates. “Breathing” means exchanging our body qi with the outside qi using special breathing technique.
Yongquan / Bubbling well
The first pair of the energy gates are points Yongquan which are located on our feet. These are the main points through which we draw the energy of our planet Earth into our body. If we are more precise we draw it in our system of energy channels (meridians), primarily into Kidneys. Earth’s energy nourishes our body with the healing energy. Practice of Qigong and Taijiquan helps to increase the flow of Earth Qi that we draw into our body.
Nowadays the majority of people have these points less sensitive because they constantly wear shoes. It is wise to be barefoot on grass, earth, sand… on every occasion we have. In this way we are “earthing” or grounding ourselves, we establish the connection with our planet and maintain inner balance.
Yongquan is the point which is in acupuncture known as K-1 (Kidney-1) and is the first point on the energy channel of kidney. Chinese term Yongquan could be translated as “Bubbling well or spring”. The name reflects the feeling that practitioners of qigong had with this point. When the point is opened, when Earth Qi flows freely into our body, we have a feeling as if we were standing in a well, feeling the bubbles pushing up through our soles.
How we locate and massage Yongquan points
Yongquan is located on the sole of the foot in a small deepening between the first and medium third of the foot, on the line between the second and third toe. This area can be painful to stronger touch. For qigong beginners it is recommendable to massage these two points before training or anytime through the day. The main purpose is that we begin to feel these points. So in time we are able to connect with them easily using our mind. This is very important for good qigong practice. At the same time we improve qi circulation around the kidneys.
We massage Yongquan points with thumbs with small circular motion for a minute. We can also use the center of the palm and massage in circular motion.
Energy gates are opened in both directions
Qi can flow through energy gates in both directions. I have mentioned that through these points we can absorb the Earth Qi into our body. But Yongquan points are also one of the major points through which we are able to lead the excess of heat out of the body. When the heat is going out through these gates, our feet can start to sweat . These points are also useful when we feel pressure in the head. The massage is also very beneficial in the evening, if we can’t sleep because our mind is too active.
We practice Qigong mainly in standing postures, so Yongquan points are connected to the ground. With different exercises we learn how to lead the energy through Yongquan points to the ground, and later how to absorb energy from outside into our body. When Yongquan points begin to open we can feel heat on the soles. It is also possible to have burning feeling. Don’t worry, slowly this phenomena will disappear and then Yongquan points will be opened. Qi will flow freely down into the ground. At that point we can begin to develop internal roots which connect us with the planet and give us greater stability and feeling of balance.
Tip for beginners and all others
As beginner you can improve your Qigong practice with the daily massage of Yongquan points for a minute or two. From my experience a massage is the most effective when you dedicate to it completely, with your mind and feelings, disconnected from the surrounding, maybe with eyes closed. You just feel and “listen”. If at the moment you don’t have a minute just for yourself, do your best. Do it when you are watching TV or reading a book… If you are attending a qigong class, I recommend you to get there at least few minutes in advance and connect with your Yongquan points by massaging them. You will calm faster and you will be able to forget about the everyday activities. In this way you will benefit far more from your training. After long years of qigong I still have a habit to massage my Yongquan points before training and sometimes in the evening. Simply because it feels good and I calm down my thoughts. And always, really always, when I have opportunity I’m barefoot outside.
To massage your feet for few minutes a day really isn’t a big engagement. Try to do this small thing daily and consistently and with focus. It doesn’t matter if you practice Qigong or not. Be patient, and just watch changes that will occur with this small routine. You are on the way!
May the Qi be with you!
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