Earth Qigong

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. It’s the beginning of harvest season and 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 sunflowers.

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 as is the stomach, of course. Emotionally, earth element helps us to digest and absorb our life experience, and is associated with gathering, nourishing, 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, 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. In the coming weeks we will practice Earth Qigong, the  Buddha Holds Up the Earth, Carrying the Moon, Rowing the Boat, Separating Heaven and 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

Summer Qigong (outside!)

Much of our summer qigong classes will focus on the element of fire and its corresponding organs, the heart (yin organ), and the small intestine (yang organ). The corresponding sense organ is the tongue (speech). The healing sound is “Haaa,” and the energy colour is red (or pink if you have high blood pressure or a heart condition).

Fire—the heart—is our radiant light, like the sun that sustains life on earth. This warm spark of life is what is traditionally called the “Palace of the Spirit.”

The heart centre is the location of the middle dantian—home of the heart mind. We now know, through scientific research, just how true this ancient idea of “heart-mind” is since there is more electromagnetic energy and neurons in the heart than in the brain.

The acquired emotions or states of the heart may include impatience, hastiness, sorrow, arrogance, cruelty and hate. The balancing and natural virtues of the heart include joy, passion, sincerity, honour, love, forgiveness, healthy boundaries, and order.

A closed or blocked heart, or imbalance in the fire element, are often related cold hands and feet, hot flashes, hard arteries, high blood pressure, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and anxiety. Digestive ailments, such as heartburn, diarrhea and constipation may be related to excess heat caused by an imbalance in the fire element.

When open and in balance, heart Qi is experienced as innate joy, nourishment and the feeling of warmth, the ability to build healthy relationships, a willingness to forgive, the ability to follow one’s passion and complete projects, and a feeling of interconnectedness with nature and life.

One of the easiest and best things for the heart is to laugh, which vibrates the energy of joy and lightness through the body, uplifting the spirit, so we will practice laughing qigong. We will also take advantage of the space and nature of the outdoors by practicing tree qigong and Qi walking, and will work with the element water (kidney) to help balance fire. Summer is also the time to work with the Earth element and the spleen and stomach meridians to cultivate balance and trust.

I hope you will come out to experience just how powerful qigong is in the outdoors and to help yourself find the balance and energy available in this sometimes hot and busy season.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.


© Sandra Tonn

Feeling Qi

In our qigong and dao yoga classes, and when I’m doing personal Qi (acupressure) sessions, I often encourage and remind people to notice, feel, or experience their energy–their Qi (life force). How this happens is individual, however, since Qi is real, how it happens is also quite physiological. In this short (12 min.) and inspiring video, “Feel the Qi,” the wonderful teacher Roger Jahnke, OMD, explains how Qi interacts with the systems of the body and why and how qigong (which includes dao yoga and acupressure massage) are so effective. (Thank you to my Qi friend and acupuncturist Edward Sanderson of PR Healthworks for alerting me to this video.)


© Sandra Tonn

Swimming Dragon

The list of benefits derived from doing a regular practice of Swimming Dragon is very long, especially for women. In fact, this used to be a woman-specific qigong movement known as Three Circles Around the Moon when it was taught by and to women in the Daoist tradition. Today both men and women do the movement and it is better known as the Swimming Dragon.

Here are just some of the many benefits:

  • Moves energy around the three dantians
  • Circulates Qi in the belt, thrusting (core), and central channels
  • Moves energy up to the pituitary and pineal glands
  • Balances hormones
  • Increases flexibility, especially of the spine
  • Stretches thyroid and thymus glands, pancreas, kidneys, and adrenal glands
  • Opens the lungs and diaphragm, bringing more oxygen and energy to body
  • Cleanses and warms the uterus and stretches the ovaries in women
  • Stimulates kidneys resulting in balance of Jing (original essence)
  • Stimulates yang functions of the body, including digestion
  • Regulates digestion and increases health of intestines, including the bowels
  • Increases overall vitality
  • Helps to unite heart (fire) and kidneys (water) to balance yin and yang in the body
  • Triggers weight loss

Because this movement is such a deep stretch and opening for the spine, and because all of the internal organs are connected to the spinal column, the entire organ network is positively affected.

If you swim your dragon regularly, you will discover even more benefits through the practice on your own. Do not underestimate its power. It’s helpful to notice and acknowledge the shifts that the Swimming Dragon will bring to your energy, body, and life.


© Sandra Tonn

Liver and Gallbladder

This week we flow from our water (winter) element to our wood (spring) element. Just as in nature right now, the body naturally wants to wash away and cleanse any stagnation or toxicity from our months of cold and stillness and comes back into balance.

When the liver is not balanced and healthy, we may experience problems with finger and toenails and have blurry vision. Emotionally, blocked liver Qi may cause intense feelings of anger (including rage), frustration and irritation, jealousy, and depression.

When the gallbladder is not balanced and healthy, we may experience early morning insomnia, problems with the eyes, including night blindness, a stiff neck, dizziness, or ringing in the ears or head. Emotionally, we may experience indecision, resentment, or become easily discouraged.

A balanced liver allows us to experience the energies and expressions of kindness, compassion, and generosity. A balanced gallbladder and liver allow us to experience sound sleep; good planning, decision-making, and judgement; and healthy expression of creativity.

To help our body and energy we will use the best Qi self-massage acupoints for cleansing and detoxifying. In our qigong class we’ll practice the wonderful Earth Qigong, which balances the wood element; the tree stance, since the liver in Qigong philosophy is the tree of life; and we’ll begin to work with the dragon, the shamanic animal of the liver. In our Dao Yoga class we’ll also work with the dragon and move deeply into stretches for the side body to open the flow of Qi in the liver and gallbladder meridians.

Spring is a powerful time to practice qigong—to work with life force Qi as nature’s energy ascends and returns rested from the winter’s stillness.


© Sandra Tonn

QIGONG for DIGESTION workshop (April 6, 2019)

Breath with mindfulness and posture = qigong. All three, together, help to bring about the state in which we can improve digestion, remove energy blocks, and move stagnant energy, allowing Qi—life force energy—to flow. When Qi flows, we are healthy and can digest our food and our life experiences as nature intended.

Without proper digestion, a cascade of health imbalances result, including allergies and food sensitivities, inflammation,  irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, autointoxication, blood sugar imbalance and on and on and on. Digestion literally affects everything. Just as poor digestion affects the whole body, good digestion also affects the whole body—cultivating amazingly good health and energy.

Qigong’s approach to digestive function is through the stomach (yang) and spleen (yin) organs, which are associated with the Earth element and govern the process of digestion. Energetically, the stomach and spleen are where the body holds anxiety, over-thinking, and worry, all of which interfere with Qi flow and balance and, therefore, digestion. The natural energies of the stomach and spleen—the counter balance to anxiety, over-thinking, and worry—include trust, centredness, and balance itself. When we activate these energies within us and bring them in from the Earth, we can find the healthy Qi flow we need for relaxing and optimum digestion.

In addition, the gallbladder (yang) and liver (yin) organs, help to keep things moving smoothly and the intestines, small and large, take in nutrients and remove wastes. In qigong the gut is the location of the lower dantian (energy centre) and is considered the second brain, the only energy centre where energy can be stored. Master Mantak Chia teaches that the structure of the intestines is like a battery and it can charge energy. This is where we can recharge the body with Qi, including food Qi, and the Qi we breathe in from our environment. Taking steps to nourish and strengthen these organs, and move Qi through their meridians (energy pathways) helps to address digestion on many levels, including physical, emotional, energetic, and even spiritual.

If you’d like to join me for this important and empowering workshop, Saturday, April 6, 2-4 pm at Cran Hall, please email me to register as space is limited. The $40 workshop fee includes a take-home booklet of all learned to support a home practice.


© Sandra Tonn


Spring Dao Yoga and Meditation series (March 30 to June 1, 2019)

Following nature’s lead, this series of Dao Yoga classes will embrace the power and depth of cleansing and new growth. Now is the time to cleanse the old and set sights on a new vision to foster growth and flow in body and in life. The yin organs that resonates with this fresh, new season are the liver (yin organ) and the gallbladder (yang organ). The element that resonates with spring is wood and the animal is the powerful dragon.

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

For details of times and prices, check the schedule page.

To register, email me.


© Sandra Tonn

Spring Qigong (March 26 to June 1, 2019)

In qigong’s Five Element Theory, spring is the time to cleanse and detoxify with the help of the spring yin organ (the liver) and spring yang organ (the gallbladder). Just as in nature, our energy is ascending, out of the cold, still winter months, to start fresh, with new clarity, vision, decision, growth and flow. We work with the spring element of wood and the spring animal, the dragon, to move out anything old, stale, or stagnant, including the emotions we hold in the liver—anger, resentment, and impatience. We activate kindness, compassion, and the power of creativity. Join me for the inspiring and transforming practice of qigong, including Qi massage, Dao yoga, and guided meditation, with all the fresh new life force Qi of spring as our teacher.

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

  • Gently but powerfully cleanse and detoxify body, mind, and energy, and balance metabolism and hormones.
  • Transform the stuck—no longer useful—anger that causes blocks and stagnation in the flow of the human electrical energy system.
  • Activate and cultivate the natural, virtuous energies of the liver and gallbladder—compassion, kindness, clarity, new spiritual vision/perspective, decision-making power, the ability to act on one’s vision—to support new growth.
  • Cultivate strength, resiliency and flexibility (in life and in the tendons, ligaments, muscles, and fascia) so that energy in the body and in one’s life and new vision will flow smoothly.

The first three classes are for cleansing and detoxifying, the next three classes to empower a new vision or perspective, the next three classes to ensure that vision and one’s life can flow smoothly, and the last class to bring it all together. In addition to meditation, Qi self-massage, and Dao yin yogic postures and movements, we will practice the wonderful, ancient Swimming Dragon Qigong—a form that offers a wealth of benefits when done regularly, including weight loss, improved digestion, balancing of endocrine system, relaxation of nervous system, increase of healing Qi, and transformation of conscious energy. The practice is so beneficial it is called the “Qigong of Longevity.”

For details of times and prices, check the schedule page.

To register, email me.


© Sandra Tonn

Shibashi forms 16 and 17

Image result for public domain i ching wheelThis week we will review movements 14 and 15 of the Shibashi practice (Punching and Flying like a Wild Goose) then learn movements 16 and 17 to complete the entire Shibashi set. We already know movement 18, the closing form in which we scoop all the Qi we’ve cultivated into the lower dantian.

16. Turning the Wheel: This movement promotes blood circulation, aids in weight loss and relieves pain and tension in the back. Since the movement is initiated from the waist, it stimulates kidney and bladder meridians and is, therefore, deeply calming and releasing, boosting energy levels in a short time. This turning also helps to purify the liver and intestines, eliminating waste and stagnation, so that vital, balance, healthy Qi can flow more freely.

17. Bouncing a Ball: This movement increases coordination, balances left and right brain, improves balance, increases strength in feet and legs, and is very helpful for insomnia and fatigue. Energetically bouncing a ball helps us to balance logic and creativity.

I’m looking forward to practicing the entire Shibashi set with you during our last three weeks of winter practice. Many of you have shared that the set is cultivating calm, peace, and flowing Qi in body, energy, and life. It is a beautiful sight for me to see you practice it and to experience all of us moving together as a qigong community.


© Sandra Tonn

Shibashi forms 14 and 15

This week we will review movements 12 and 13 of the Shibashi practice (Playing with Waves and Spreading your Wings) then learn movements 14 and 15.

  1. Punching: This movement is also known as “Punching with an Steady Gaze to Increase Strength,” as it helps to move the energy/emotion of outdated or stagnant anger out of the liver. We do this, however, softly, with compassion, which is also a liver energy. A healthy release of anger increases inner strength and overall vitality, leaving us with positive change and clarity. This practice also improves conditions related to the lungs and nervous system and is very helpful in the case of insomnia.


  1. Flying like a Wild Goose: In China, wild geese are symbols of yin and yang because they migrate to avoid the yang heat of summer and again to avoid the cold and dark yin of winter. In doing this movement we can imagine our big, wild wings flying with the purpose of finding balance between yin and yang. The gentle, floating practice is very helpful for headaches, mental stress and anxiety and to quiet body and mind.

We’ll also practice Turtle Drinks from Deep Pools for the next three weeks, to further nourish and balance kidneys with the water element.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.


© Sandra Tonn