About Sandratonn

Posts by Sandratonn:

WINTER DAO YOGA–deep peace

Following nature’s lead, this series of Dao Yoga classes will embrace the power and depth of stillness and quiet. Now is the time to recharge and rejuvenate our physical and energy bodies. The yin organs that resonates with this cool, dark season are the kidneys—our energy batteries and the home of our original Qi (life force energy).

Dao yogic movements and postures include a focus on the body’s energy pathways (meridians), as well as healing sounds, breathwork, and Qi Self-massage (acupressure points). We rest in the postures and movements (all on the mat, no standing) to allow for a deep release—safe and relaxing opening of the body’s held energies, tension, and connective tissues—so that healing and balancing Qi can flow.

The kidney meridians regulate all of the fluid in the body, including water, the blood, hormones, bone marrow, cerebrospinal fluid, lymph, and joint lubrication. Water, the element that resonates with winter and the kidneys, will help inspire us to go with the flow for our winter practice.

Students in past Dao Yoga classes have commented on the deep relaxation and calm they feel during and after the class and how their sleep has improved. It is a wonderful way to slow down, calm the nervous system, and bring balance to a busy and/or stressful lifestyle.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

If you’ve not yet registered for a winter session of classes, you can see more details on the schedule page and email me to register.


© Sandra Tonn

WINTER QIGONG series–deep calm and nourishment

Winter, in qigong’s Five Element Theory, is the time to recharge our energy batteries, the kidneys, and to sink down in to the silence, stillness, and deep calm this time of year allows for and encourages. The kidneys help to regulate all of the fluid in the body, including water, the blood, hormones, bone marrow, cerebrospinal fluid, lymph, and joint lubrication. Water, the element that resonates with winter and the kidneys, will guide and inspire us to go with the flow.

I’ve designed our winter series of qigong classes to do the following:

  1. Renew and build up energy reserves by nourishing the kidneys,
  2. Gently but powerfully transform the stress and fear that cause blocks and stagnation in the flow of our human electrical energy system.
  3. Activate and cultivate the natural, virtuous energies of the kidneys—deep peace, calm, wisdom, stillness, gentleness, vitality, determination, will power, and equanimity.

In addition to meditation, Qi self-massage, and dao yin yogic postures and movements, I’m excited to offer teachings in the wonderful Taijiquan Qigong practice of Shibashi. The Shibashi Set One practice is the most popular routine in China today and practiced around the world by more than 10 million people, including Malaysia and Indonesia where it is considered a national health exercise. The routine, which includes 18 easy movements synchronized with the breath, is truly a peaceful experience and deeply relaxing.

A regular practice of Shibashi is said, by my instructor Master Wing Cheung, to reduce mental stress and physical tension; improve conditions related to the heart, liver, lungs, and nervous system; improve high blood pressure; help to relieve physical pain (including back, shoulder, wrist, elbow, etc.); improve digestion; aid in weight loss and decrease fat around the waist; increase lung capacity; boost stamina and vitality; decrease insomnia, anxiety and headaches; aid in balancing hormones; increase mental clarity; increase spiritual energy, and much, much more.

My hope is that by the end of our 10 weeks of winter practice together you will feel deeply nourished, peaceful, rejuvenated, and also have the 18 movements of the Shibashi practice to take away with you.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

If you’ve not yet registered for a winter session of classes, you can see more details on the schedule page and email me to register.


© Sandra Tonn

Winter Solstice DAO YOGA class

When seasons change, our Qi (life force energy) should automatically, according to natural law, adjust to match nature’s new frequency. In our modern life this does not always happen smoothly or naturally. Without a smooth transition we are more vulnerable to imbalance and illness. Water is the element that represents and resonates with winter, so we will use it in this class to help during this special and important time of transition—winter solstice.  The yin organ for winter is the kidneys. The healing sound is “Choo,” and the energy colour is a deep blue and/or black.

Winter brings us to the time and place of moving inward. It is a very yin, slow, quiet, still, and meditative time. Just as nature draws inward and slows while growth takes a pause, it is our time for deep resting, regeneration, building and conserving energy, and filling up our reserves. Winter is also a time to tend to and transform fear, stress, and loneliness. I’ve wondered lately if the busy and bright Christmas season, with all of its spending, socializing, drinking, and overeating, has become an acceptable way to escape our intuitive need and natural drive to sit down with the darkness—to embrace it and feel it and learn from it.

The balancing emotions and virtues of the water element, which reside in the spirit of the kidneys, include deep calm and peace, deep wisdom and self-understanding, stillness, determination, will power, and the ability to go with the flow—like water—and adapt to the constant and inevitable changes in our lives.

Dao yogic movements and postures include a focus on the body’s energy pathways (meridians), as well as healing sounds, breathwork, and Qi Self-massage (acupressure points). We rest in the postures and movements (all on the mat, no standing) to allow for a deep release—safe and relaxing opening of the body’s held energies, tension, and connective tissues—so that healing and balancing Qi can flow.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.


© Sandra Tonn

Home Practice workshop

I often hear from qigong students that they have trouble remembering what they learn in our qigong classes and so cannot practice qigong at home. Memorizing movements and sequences is not the goal of qigong in class or for at home. Memorizing is a mental practice. Qigong is a practice that is very much rooted in the body. I do not memorize qigong. I practice it until I know it, in my body and my energy, and you can do the same.

Understanding how to work with your energy and knowing ways in which to do so is a more authentic and rewarding means of establishing a home practice. With an intention to help your Qi flow, some trust in your own wisdom, and some practical experience and guidance, a home practice can greatly increase the benefits you are already cultivating through attending regular group practice.

Even a brief, but regular, home practice is amazingly transforming and powerful. In the upcoming Home Practice workshop, I will outline how to structure a home practice, whether you want a short daily practice, a weekly long practice, or something in between.


The workshop, and your accompanying booklet, will cover the following:

  • Eight options for meditation
  • The most important and potent Qi self-massage (acupressure) points from which to choose a short, medium, or full practice.
  • How to structure a standing qigong flow practice including options for:
    • Opening the flow of Qi
    • Warming up the spine
    • Clearing and purging
    • Daoist Yang Tonifying movement
    • Daoist Five Yin Tonifying movements
    • Centering, circulating, and storing Qi
    • Ending your session

Your take-home booklet also includes a chart for the five yin organs along with their associated element and season, energy colour, acquired emotions, and natural virtues, as well as a summary page to help you choose options with which to format your practice.

Attendance will be limited to 15. Please do not sign up if you cannot fully commit to attending. If the workshop has a wait list I will offer it again as soon as possible. This workshop has been created from my heart and passion to empower you to invite qigong into your life outside of class time, in whatever little or big way that is perfect for you.

Email me to register.


© Sandra Tonn

Inner Smile Meditation

The Inner Smile Meditation is an amazingly simple and powerful practice that will literally change your body, mind, spirit and life. It is a thousands-year-old, traditional Daoist practice for inner alchemy—to transform low-grade energy into flowing, healing high-grade energy. Low energy, when in excess, stuck, or stagnant, negatively affects our Qi, or life force energy, and may contribute to chronic disease. The inner smile, with its energy of love and joy, can transform energy in the organs, glands, muscles, nervous system, bones—the entire body.

The best way to understand the trans formative power of this meditation is to experience it, but there is also a growing amount of scientific information today that helps to explain the many benefits and effectiveness of this ancient practice. We now know, for example, through neuroscientific research, that the act of smiling activates neurotransmitters (chemical signals in the brain) that help to counteract stress.1 A smile also triggers the release of the so-called “feel good” neurotransmitters (dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin), which not only makes us feel good, but also can positively affect heart rate and blood pressure.Endorphins are also powerful natural pain relievers, and serotonin is a natural antidepressant. 3,4

The science of psychoneuroimmunology has explained that the physical act of smiling boosts immunity. When we smile the brain assumes all is well and that we’re happy, and happy people live longer. 5,6 If you’ve ever felt uplifted, loved, or relieved when someone smiled at you, you’ve experienced the powerful energy of a smile. A smile can literally change our energy.

In the Inner Smile Meditation practice, we open and activate the heart-mind—the heart centre, which emits electromagnetic energy that changes according to our present emotions. The heart also sends more signals to the brain than visa versa, influencing the brains’ perception, emotional experience, and higher mental processes.7

In the practice, we use our intention and visualization to capture the essence or energy of a smile and bring it into the body. The eyes, including the inner eye we use to visualize, are connected to all the organs and glands by way of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates their actions. With focus we move the inner smile energy through the body and do our transforming with the help of each organ’s natural virtues. We use colour, sensations, and our breath. The result is powerful and, when done regularly, cumulative and evolutionary.

I remember doing an hour-long Inner Smile Meditation one day when something incredible happened. I was working in the lungs and had been for many weeks. To be specific, I was working with grief. All of a sudden, the heart was radiating energy of love and the liver sent up some compassion. Instead of just trying to get rid of my grief and the physical symptoms and blocks it had caused, I realized I needed to acknowledge it with the softness and power of love and compassion. I was amazed at the wisdom of my organs and body, and excited to know that the Inner Smile Meditation could help in such a profound way.

Simple but powerful, this technique is natural, easy to do, and so very, very effective. You get to know your body and its organs and other structures in an entirely new way. A friendly, supportive, and loving way. It is a gentle tool that can do heavy work, melting long frozen fear, softening hard anger, and freeing stuck anxiety. Practice regularly and feel how it transforms you, your day, your health, and your life.

At the Inner Smile Meditation workshop we will take the time to dive deeper into this practice, learn and experience the benefits and techniques, and also try the different, even quick, ways to use it in your every day life. Your take-home booklet will provide more information, resources, and instruction.



  1. Abel E. and Kruger M. “Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity,” Psychological Science, 2010: 21, 542–544.
  2. Seaward, Brian Luke. “Managing Stress: Principles and strategies for health and well-being,” Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, Massachusetts, 2006.
  3. Lane, Richard DR, et al. Neural correlates of conscious emotional experience. In R.D. Lane & L. Nadel (Eds.), CognitiveNeuroscience of Emotion, 2000: 345-370.
  4. Karren KJ, et al. “Mind/Body Health: The effect of attitudes, emotions and relationships,” Benjamin Cummings, New York, New York, 20009.
  5. Beres, A. “Does happiness help healing? Immune response of hospitalized children may change during visits of the Smiling Hospital Foundation’s Artists,” Orvosi Hetilap, 2011.
  6. Lawrence, E. et al. “Happiness and longevity in the United States,” Social Science & Medicine, 2015: 115-119.
  7. “The Mysteries of the Heart,” HeartMath®Institute, Boulder Creek, California, 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.heartmath.org/resources/infographic/mysteries-of-the-heart/

© Sandra Tonn


This practice of qigong matches nature and its season of fall by focusing on the element of metal and its corresponding organs, the lungs (yin), and the large intestine (yang). The corresponding sense organ for this season is the nose as well as our largest organ, the skin.

The lungs, like metal, offer strength, structure, and all the ability to bring in Qi from our external sources of life energy. This element, as with the lungs, large intestine, nose and skin, governs the ability to take in and let go—of oxygen and carbon dioxide, nutrition and waste, energy, ideas, habits, relationships, life. The lungs offer protection as well as a home for courage, integrity, grief, and sorrow.

The acquired emotions or states of the lungs when out of balance, deficient or in excess, may include grief, sadness, sorrow, depression, shame, guilt, and despair, as well as anxiety. The balancing and natural virtues of the lungs include integrity, resiliency, courage, strength, reverence, justice, righteousness, and detachment.

Blocks or imbalance in the metal element, are often related to constipation, diarrhea, headache, lung disorders (such as asthma), sinus congestion, allergies, fatigue, and loss of enthusiasm for life. Unresolved grief is often at the root of many physical lung problems. Holding on to the energy of grief, sadness, and the past I the lungs can lead to colon ailments. When we hold, instead of feeling emotions and allowing them to move through us, we stop and block energy flow.

When open and balanced, metal Qi is experienced as the ability to encounter difficulty with openness and strength, quiet integrity, confidence, and a willingness to release physical and emotional wastes, including old beliefs, habits and behaviours, and unhealthy relationships.

The ability to experience our moments as precious and be present in them, whether they are happy or sad, is the power of lung Qi. Strong and balanced lung Qi and the metal element provide us with the courage to bring in life and also to let it move through us in a timely way.

Our fall practice will use the inner smile meditation and lung healing sound to practice the alchemy of transforming held or stuck energy. Our Qi self-massage will focus on stimulating the lung and large intestine meridians (energy pathways) to further allow for energetic balance and flow. Our stretching, posture, breath work, and flowing qigong movements will connect us with our lungs, open, clear, purge, tone, and cultivate fresh and supportive Qi into the physical and energy bodies.

We will work with the healing sound for the lungs, which is “Ssss,” and the energy colour, which is a pure, brilliant white. We will practice Ocean Breathing, Tiger Claws, the Daoist Five Tonification movements for Heart and Lungs, Lung Healing Sound, Silken Form, Compassionate Heart Qigong, and more.

See the fall schedule here.



© Sandra Tonn


This week we will take advantage of our outdoor classroom to learn and practice Qi Walking, also known as Guo Lin Qigong or Walking Qigong.

Qi Walking is traditionally practiced in the morning, outside in the fresh air. This powerful practice is best known for its benefits to those living with cancer, but it is also a wonderful practice for anyone needing rejuvenation, cleansing, energizing, and transformation of low grade energy into higher grade energy. Those with chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, depression, high blood pressure, hormone imbalance, autoimmune disease, sluggish liver, anemia, diabetes, high stress, anxiety, and more.

The practice of Qi Walking was developed in the 1960s by qigong master Guo Lin. She developed the practice in response to a serious cancer diagnosis, and much conventional treatment. She claims to have Qi walked her cancer into remission and did, in fact, lived for more 40 years, eventually dying, not of cancer, but of old age. Today, this specific form of qigong has been studied scientifically, such as in a recent randomized controlled trial using women with breast cancer, which concluded the Guo Lin Qigong offered improvements in quality of life including in the areas of anxiety, depression and immunological function.1

Qi walking increases the oxygen level in the body without a big cardiovascular output. The theory is that with more oxygen cancer cells cannot grow. No matter what our health status, with more oxygen there is more circulation and more life force Qi flowing.

Its history and specific theories and proof of its effectiveness aside, Qi Walking is something that is best experienced for oneself. I find it fun and invigorating. I do it when I’m very tired or simply want to cultivate a feeling of optimism and empowerment. It is a wonderful practice for discharging what you want to let go of and filling up with whatever you need. You can practice it alone, but it is super powerful when practiced as a group.

See you soon for some Qi Walking. You can see my qigong class schedule here.


  1. Liu, P et al. The efficacy of Guolin-Qigong on the body-mind health of Chinese women with breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial. Quality of Life Research, 26(9), September 2017: 2321-2331. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28421384

© Sandra Tonn


Late summer qigong practice resonates with the element earth—the centre of all the other elements and seasons. Earth qigong is all about balance, centeredness, and trust. Earth is our source of nourishment, grounding, gravity, and stability. Earth is our mother and she is our home.

The organs that correspond to earth element and late summer are the spleen (yin organ), and the stomach (yang organ). The sense organ is the mouth (taste), which makes sense during this time of abundant food Qi. The healing sound is a grounding “Whoo” and the energy colour is yellow, like the rich yellow of the blooming sunflower this time of year.

Physically, the spleen, which is about the same size as the heart and sits just behind the stomach on the left side of the body, is an important organ of digestion. It governs our food Qi by extracting and converting the pure essence of our food and liquid.

Energetically, the earth provides us with a centre, enabling us to balance our lives and live with harmony. Emotionally, earth element helps us to digest and absorb our life experience, and is associated with growing, nourishing, producing (as in a late summer harvest), and change.

Emotions and states held in the spleen may include worry, anxiety, nervousness, overthinking, obsession, and self-worth issues. The balancing and natural energies of the spleen include trust, openness, resolution, centeredness, balance, and equanimity.

Imbalance, blocks, excess or deficiency in the earth energy may show up as mouth sores, digestive ailments, fatigue, weight challenges, allergies, chronic immune disorders, candidiasis, disrupted cycles, and addiction. The classic symptom of earth element imbalance is seen in the person who is unable to receive love and support but is very good at giving it to others.

As always, the other elements (and organs) play a role in the health of the spleen and balance of earth element. Wood (liver) regulates earth (spleen), just as tree roots hold soil. Compassion and kindness (liver) can help to regulate worry and imbalance (spleen). Fire (heart) is the mother of Earth (spleen) just as late summer is born of summer and joy gives birth to openness. Working with the spleen now, in late summer, will also help us when fall comes and we enter the domain of the element metal with its organ focus of the lungs. The ability to trust, be open and take in nourishment (spleen) can result in the production of integrity, strength, and the ability to let go (metal).

Flowing and balanced spleen Qi helps us to find our balance, our centre, to take in life and to trust in the divine unfolding of our journey. To help us with this we will practice Three Source Breathing, Earth Qigong, the amazingly healing Qi Walking, Buddha Holds Up the Earth, and more. We will also revisit some outdoor favourites such as Tree Qigong, Compassionate Heart Qigong, and Crane Walking.

To see the qigong drop-in class schedule, click here.

I look forward to practicing with you.


© Sandra Tonn


Whether the sun is shining or not, summer is a time of yang—lots of activity and yang energy. Qigong is a perfect way to slow down a bit—to cultivate balance using the mindful movements and breathing of qigong. In summer we work with sun energy—opening up to the spark of life and radiant light that sustains our life on Earth—but we also invite in the balancing, cooling, and grounding energies and elements of water and earth.

Fire is the element of summer’s yin organ—the heart. When we work with the heart (our middle dantian/energy centre) we are in the domain of the “palace of the spirit,” where our seat of consciousness sits. With a heart-centred practice we can release and enhance the flow of joy, passion, sincerity, love, honour, and happiness.

Heart Qi is the most powerful energy we have as humans. Blocks, imbalance, excess, or deficiency in energy here may result in experiences of sadness, hastiness, or hatred, and manifest in the form of heart disease, hot flashes, anxiety, or depression.

By opening, purging, strengthening, and cultivating Qi we can significantly impact the health, balance, and harmony of our heart energy, entire body, and life.

Over the next five weeks of Sun Qigong, we will practice with the animals of the heart—the crane and elephant. We’ll move Qi along not only the heart meridian (energy pathway), but also the triple heater, pericardium, and small intestine (the yang organ for summer) meridians.

Come out to Willingdon Beach, D.A. Evans Park, or Lindsay Park to practice under the sky and beside the trees and open your heart to all the healing and soothing life force energy available to you.

To see the summer qigong drop-in class schedule, click here.

I look forward to practicing with you.


© Sandra Tonn


From a qigong perspective, trees are considered guardians of the earth—they transform environmental toxins into clean, fresh air. In short, they are the filters of the planet. Also, as with everything from a Daoist viewpoint, trees contain and radiate energy. If you’ve ever spent an afternoon in the shade of a tree, leaned your back up against one for a rest, walked through a forest, or even gazed at a tree out a window, you’ve probably experienced the distinctly rejuvenating and healing energy of trees.

When we engage with trees in a conscious way, with intention and awareness, we open to a powerful vibration and exchange of energy.

Qigong with pine trees is traditionally said to be extremely cleansing, especially if the tree is higher up on a hill or a mountain. Willow trees are grounding, poplars vibrate with the metal (lungs) element, apple trees are thought to be helpful for balancing the fire (heart) element. We have abundant opportunity to practice qigong with the wonderful cedar tree—long known by First Nations to have healing power.

Since June is late spring and early summer we will work with a tree focus. In qigong the liver, the yin organ associated with the spring season and the element wood, is known as the Tree of Life—rooting into the earth (yin) at the same time it reaches for the sky (yang). A lovely balance, like the balance of yin and yang energies in spring, grounding and balancing our energy before we move into the warmer, more active, yang energies of summer.

I invite you to come out and experience some Tree Qi. We will work with the Tree of Life (liver) meridian or energy pathway, to open up energy blocks and move stagnant energy, allowing life to flow through us. In addition to using the tree as a focus and reflecting their nourishment in our mindful movements, in each class we will also do qigong with the energy of trees—a traditional and absolutely peaceful, rejuvenating, and soothing practice.

Root down into what nourishes and supports you and reach for the sky to grow and blossom in whatever way feels absolutely perfect for you on this natural and incredible journey. When life seems to get busy, it is even more important to commit to your practice—to move and breathe with the natural flow of your deepest self.

Lao Tzu said, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

I’ll see you outside to create some natural, flowing space in your body and your life.


© Sandra Tonn