This week’s qigong class focuses on the element water and its corresponding organs, the kidneys (yin organ), and the bladder (yang organ). The associated sense organ is the ears (hearing). The healing sound is “Choo,” and the energy colour is a deep blue and/or black. The season of water and kidneys is winter.

Water itself is formless and may be still, calm, and strong, just as the ocean’s tide may form a beach or sculpt stone. Just as a stream may freeze and thaw again.  The great Chinese sage Lao Tzu said, “Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water.”

Just as a waterfall is uplifting to the spirit, the ocean is expansive and energizing, and a calm lake is calming and meditative, the element water greatly influences our physical and energy bodies.

Physically, the kidneys govern the skeleton, brain, and all the body’s fluids, including water, bone marrow, cerebrospinal fluid, lymph, and joint lubrication, and the kidneys filter 15 gallons of blood every hour. They also control hormones, which are extremely important to the health and function of the body, especially as we age. Work with kidney energy (and that of the liver) is effective for women in the pre-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause transitions.

Both the kidney and bladder meridians (energy pathways) have a connection to the limbic system in the brain, which decides whether to panic or relax in any given situation or life experience. Qigong—breath work, visualization, and meditative movement—can, therefore, strongly influence body-mind connection.

Energetically, the kidneys are our rechargeable batteries and the home of our original qi (life force) or essence, known as Jing. Since this is the storehouse for our vitality, the kidney energy needs to remain strong and in balance for the rest of the body to function well.

The acquired emotions associated with the kidneys include fear, stress, and loneliness. This is also where held or frozen shock or trauma may cause imbalance. Blocks or deficiencies may also show up as brittle bones, low back pain, knee pain, loss of will or personal power, lack of sex drive, and urinary or reproductive issues. An imbalanced lifestyle, such as overworking and anything else that drains life force, will deplete the kidneys precious store of jing, which means we will have to cultivate even more qi from other sources to recharge and bring balance, and to live a healthy life into old age. To build kidney qi we need to find the balance between doing and being.

The balancing and natural virtues of the kidneys include wisdom, self-understanding, will power, determination, calm, peace, and gentleness. Working with kidney energy can be deeply restorative, strengthening, and very peaceful all at once.

Flowing and balanced water/kidney Qi helps us to stand in our power and have healthy ambition, increases our ability to adapt to situations including stress, clear confusing thoughts, improve memory, and give us the energy to pull ourselves out of heaviness. With strong kidney Qi we produce the hormones necessary to transition through life’s changes and to age and live with grace.

This week we will use the inner smile meditation and kidney healing sound to practice the alchemy of transforming held or stuck fear and stress, inviting our natural virtues of wisdom, strength, and calm to expand. Our Qi self-massage will focus on stimulating the kidney meridian and the longest meridian in the body, the bladder meridian.

We will practice Ocean Breathing, the Daoist Five tonifying movement for the Kidney, and we’ll do one of my favourite qigong movements, Turtle Drinks from Deep Pools.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.


© Sandra Tonn