class blog

Winter Qigong series

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 rest and rejuvenation.  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, inviting in resolution, trust, calm, and peace.

The winter practices I’ve prepared will focus on renewing and building up of energy reserves by nourishing the kidneys, and gently but powerfully transforming the stress and fear that cause blocks and stagnation in the flow of our human electrical energy system. We will also and cultivating the balancing emotions and energies of the water element, which reside in the spirit of the kidneys, including deep calm and peace, true wisdom and self-understanding, stillness, determination, will power, trust, and the ability to go with the flow—like water—to adapt to the constant and inevitable changes in our lives. We will practice the Bone Marrow Cleanse and learn Set 2 of Shibashi Qigong for all the benefits of Shibashi Set 1, plus strengthening and circulating Qi through the lower half of the body including the legs.


© Sandra Tonn

Fall Qigong

In the fall our qigong moves to 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 the ability to bring in Qi from our external sources of life energy, including oxygen. This element (as it iswith 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 in 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 qigong movements will connect us with our lungs, open, clear, purge, tone, and cultivate fresh, supportive, and protective Qi into the physical and energy bodies and boost immunity.

We will practice Ocean Breathing, Tiger Claws, Embrace Tiger Return to Mountain, Lung Polishing, Lung Healing Sound, Silken Form, Crossing the Wild Blue Ocean, the Pal Dan Gum (Eight Silken movements), and more.

See the fall schedule here.



© 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

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