Chi kung exercises for beginners

I’m going to start putting up videos of simple chi kung exercises for beginners. Each video will be a simple chi kung posture in a flow, each posture and flow will teach a basic beginner chi kung principle.

1st Chi kung exercise for beginners

Lift Hands posture from Tai Chi.
This teaches the chi kung principle of separate and extend to the extremities.

Lift Hands Tai Chi Posture done in a chi kung expression. The concept here is separate the crown point bai hui from the sacrum, ming men or hui yin point, depending on expression.

Learn QiGong Online Free

So you still want to try to learn qigong online against my advice, ok I understand. I have good news, you can in fact learn basic qigong online, and you can learn it for free. You must however be very selective when you’re looking for online qigong lessons, the same rules apply to learning qigong online that apply to learning it in real life, you need a good teacher. I’ve included some video resources below to get you started.

Note: I use the spelling qigong, chi kung and qi gong interchangeably in this article so that more people can find it.

It is easier to find qigong teachers online who know more about marketing than chi kung and if you’re a total beginner it’s very difficult to spot the difference. Whats more, some of the best qigong masters who’s content is available online for free, are very difficult to find. Their videos are buried under the marketing guys.

For me it’s very easy to spot a bad qigong teacher because I have been practicing for a number of years under very good teachers. Even from a still photograph I can tell a fraudulent qigong teacher by looking at their posture and their hands and feet. If you are a beginner to qigong it’s difficult to spot the difference between a good teacher and a fraud.

One way to spot the marketing qigong teachers is by the length of their sets compared to the difficulty of the individual postures. Progressing in qigong has nothing to do with the amount forms you know. In traditional public qigong classes, you usually first learn a short, easy, set of movements to work the basic meridians. If you want to go deeper into qigong, into the alchemy practices, the movements can get very difficult fast. The advanced qigong practices that don’t have difficult physical movements have difficult breathing and focusing practices. When I first started learning marrow washing for instance, the breath cycle had to be extended so long I felt as if I would suffocate while following my teacher. Anyway to reiterate, digital marketing based qigong courses, teach you more and more movements that don’t increase in difficulty to milk students.

Learning qigong has very little to do with learning very long forms. Many of these are recent creations design to milk students into subscriptions.

Last time I checked the entire first page of search results for online qigong courses were very poor, whilst some of the best videos don’t show up in a conventional search at all. I’ve dug around a bit an found some youtube videos of masters that are very good.

Top 5 things you need to begin learning qigong online, or offline.

First, you must get familiar with the basic qigong concepts and terminology. Most of these terms have to do with anatomy, breath, mind state and energy. The below video does a good job of easing beginners to qigong into this terminology.

This video gives a good overview of chi gong terminology. The qigong teacher who made it has a lot of free chi gong lessons online and on his youtube channel.

The second thing you’ll need learning qigong practice is a breathing method.

Breath is the key that unlocks the benefits chi kung. There are many methods. If you’re learning online there is no use in studying an elaborate breath method, you just need one that syncs the breath, movement and chi. You also need one that syncs to your specific level of development. The below methods are from the monk Chan Fa who is friends with my teacher. Chan Fa has studied Taoism and “heart” Chan Buddhist methods all his life, he has achieved a very high level of skill, his students are highly skilled martial artists and practitioners, he is not known in the west and has no western students. His breathing methods are simple and direct.

Here we introduce to you two simple and effective breathing methods. One is the Five and Ten Dantian Breathing Methods. First, sit on a chair, relax your body, and place your palms in the Dantian of your lower abdomen below your navel. Close your eyes. Breathe out through your mouth and count from one to ten. At this time, you should simultaneously retract the Dantian of the lower abdomen inward and lift the anus upward. After exhaling, breathe in through your nose and count from one to five. At this time, protrude your lower abdomen forward and relax your anus. One exhalation and one inhalation is one time, and a total of ten times is one time. It’s up to you how many times you want to do it.

The second is the four-seven-eight breathing method. The method is also very simple. Sit up straight and relax. Breathe in and count from one to four. To stop breathing, count from one to seven. Then exhale and count from one to eight. This counts as one time (one breath), ten times is one time. How many times or how many times you want to practice is entirely up to you. Both of these breathing methods involve inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. They can be practiced while sitting or lying down. The counting speed should not be too fast or too slow, just

The third thing you’ll need is a set of movements or form.

Youtube makes this part of the process easy, there are thousands of options. When learning from free video, look for footage recorded before the current qigong trend. There are a massive amount of sketchy organizations and chi kung teachers that are cashing in on this boom. When you learn from an older source, certainly pre 2000’s, the teacher will be more dedicated to the art and not just making money off of it. The older routines are simple and effective whereas many of the new ones are stretched way out to milk students for ongoing subscription feeds. If you’re learning qigong online the same rule we use for a breathing method applies to the form, it must be simple and effective. For this purpose the Ba Duan Jin qigong routine is probably the best option. It is so simple and effective it has survived in one form or another for at least 800 years. This set has a symbiotic relationship with tai chi and xing yi.

Some of the best Ba Duan Jin Qigong videos are online for free.

Yes, I know it’s not in English, but in the coming weeks I will break down the separate movements of Ba Duan Jin or 8 pieces of brocade, chi kung routine online all for free.

Zhang Guang De, the chi kung master in the above video is the creator of the Daoyin Yang Sheng Gong chi kung system and one of the best chi kung teachers of recent times. Many of his chi kung videos are online for free, however most of these cover his longer routines. If you want to learn chi kung online for free it’s not going to benefit you to learn a longer system. The Ba Duan Jin, is simple and effective, practicing it everyday will provide health benefits.

Here is the Qigong teacher Yang Jwing Ming performing the same set.

it’s a shame people pay thousands for online qigong courses when this material exists…

Dr.Jwing Ming also performs seated ba duan Jin qigong

This seated qigong set is quite nice to follow along with.

The 4 thing you need in your qigong practice is the correct mind state.

In Chinese literature, the first and last items on a list are the most important, so pay attention to this one. Depending on your former training, or lack thereof, you may have a hard time picking this last concept up online. Although it is essentially a state of keeping your focus, it has a feeling. In my experience you need to be beside a master to have this feeling transmitted properly. It is strongly related to the breathing method. In a traditional setting the mental state, especially focus and intention, of a qigong student is constantly adjusted by the teacher, but this is often given little time on the modern chi kung courses. The coach Edward Hines is particularly good at teaching the mind states in an accessible way.

The 5th thing you need in a qigong practice is a clearly defined goal.

This is also a big difference from the marketing type teachers. Below are some goals that you can find in qigong practice. First you can start off with simple goals like perfoming a certain number of breath cycles every morning, performing the set a specific number of times a week etc. After you get comfortable you need to set internal goals. All qigong teachers I have studied with make this a critical point.

  1. Sinking Qi To the Dan Tien (this is a good goal to set after you are comfortable with the breathing and some movements, it is difficult without a teacher in real life but I believe it would be achievable in a disciplined online practice. This practice causes a deep sense of well-being and is good for everyone)
  2. Agitating Chi in the Dan Tien (same as above)
  3. Burning Impurities From the Mind (This is extremely difficult and can’t be learned online, this is one of the practices that causes a change to the practitioner on a very deep level. As someone who has experienced this I wouldn’t say that it would benefit people who don’t want to have practice take over a large part of their life)
  4. Clearing Negative Energy through the Lao Gong points. (this can probably be learned online)
  5. Holding Yi on Void (This can be learned online by those with good mental faculty, it is good for everybody. )
  6. Opening the Large Heavenly Circle ( Although it is often taught in digital courses, there is no chance you will achieve it without a skilled teacher. This occurrence will change the internal and external circumstances in the practitioners life. Really these things are not for everybody )

1st question, is it better to learn chi kung online or offline?

Can you learn chi kung online? In the last 5 years there has been a massive increase numbers of folks interested learning chi kung online. This surge in public awareness of online chi kung practice largely brought about by internet video and the new demand far exceeds the number of qualified chi kung teachers. A thriving industry of online chi kung courses has popped up to capitalize on this market.

Practicing chi kung in Ireland's countryside.
Practicing chi kung should be the most offline activity of your day.

This surge of interest can only be seen as a positive but is it’s possible to learn chi kung online? These online courses come in a variety of styles, quality and cost. While learning online would seem to be a convenient solution I believe it is in fact not possible for the complete beginner to learn this art solely through a digital device.

If you really want to learn chi kung online you should reinforce that with classes in your area.

Many online qi gong courses are quite in-depth and are created by adept teachers. However in my experience learning from scratch is not going to happen online. For more advanced students who already have the fundamentals, these online courses can be of help.

What exactly is it about learning chi kung that requires study in the presence of a qualified teacher in real life? The fact is that many of the fundamentals are transmitted from teacher to student in silence. You may learn the forms of movement online but qi gong movements are just the tip of the iceberg. It is unlikely you will learn sinking chi to the dan tien, holding emptiness, let alone starting the large heavenly circle to burn off impurities.

Learn chi kung online. Just don't.
Don’t Learn Chi Kung Online.

Even under the traditional training method of one qi gong master teaching a small group of students learning the fundamentals is difficult. Optimally you would have a weekly chi kung class with a good teacher to make progress. Every qi gong student has specific physical, spiritual and mental differences that must be addressed individually by the chi kung teacher.

The traditional method of transmitting an authentic qi gong style requires a large investment of one on one time and effort on part of the chi kung teacher and student. This method is not a profitable business model. Again, each student has specific mental and physical considerations it is not possible to be corrected in an online qi gong course, especially a canned one with no live zoom classes.

Instead of trying to learn chi kung online, use the internet find a chi kung teacher in real life.

If you’re an aspiring chi kung student the most beneficial thing going online can do for you is locating the times and locations of a chi kung classes near you. It may very well be that googling qi gong classes near me is not going to return any results in your area but don’t get discouraged. Some traditional sources of qi gong teachers are eastern monastics, internal martial artists and acupuncture doctors. Chi kung systems are often sort of a parallel curriculum in these pursuits.

Examples of online searches that will help you learn Chi Kung.

Here are some other keyword searches you can use in your quest to learn chi kung. If you can find a real master in one of the below disciplines it’s quite likely you have also just found a chi kung teacher. Because teaching chi kung requires so much commitment you may need to stick with one of these teachers for a long time before they agree to teach you. although it may take some time to build the trust required to get them to agree to teach you chi kung.

  • Tai Chi Teachers in my area
  • Xing Yi Teachers in my area
  • Buddhist meditation classes near me
  • Yi Chuan Classes near me
  • Ba Duan Jin Classes near me

There are also many chi kung masters who inherited the practice from their family. If a chi kung master is a layperson they are more likely to be an engineer or business business person – with very little spare time – than a stereotypical new age guru looking to charge for course.

The chi kung seminar circuit, where an experienced teacher travels giving large seminars is also an option. It is possible to learn well this way, especially if the teacher is not yet reached the point of being so famous that his seminars have scores of attendees. Seminars taught by chi kung teachers can be especially effective if the student has already learned the fundamentals.

Here are some good teachers that I know in different countries:

Chew Yeen Lawes England

Edward Hines France

Victor Chao Michigan USA

Luo Dexiu – Tawain – One of the best remaining chi kung teachers in the world, although he doesn’t teach it much.

Learn chi kung in Ireland

Learn chi kung in Ireland the way it was intended, outside not online.

Chi kung outdoors is meant to be practiced outside under trees close to the 5 elements. In Ireland we have such beautiful practice spots. There is very little benefit to practicing chi kung in a zoom class or in front of a device. There is far more benefit to learning how to breath through one movement and practice everyday outside than it is to follow along to a full online chi kung class in front of a screen.

Read more about the best way to learn chi kung.