What’s the single best health exercise ever invented? The award undoubtedly goes to Lifting the Sky. This amazing qigong exercise has changed countless lives, including my own.
Lifting the Sky is the very first exercise in two of the most famous qigong sets in the world: The 18 Lohan Hands, taught by the great Bodhidharma, and The 8 Pieces of Brocade taught by General Yue Fe.
It’s safe to say that it is one of the most widely practiced qigong exercise in the world. And for good reason. It’s awesome.
Eventually, you’ll need to learn this exercise live from a teacher. That’s because the real secrets are not in the movement, or even the breathing. For example, the secret of energy flow needs to be learned from a teacher.
But in the meantime, it’s safe to try this on your own by following the instructions below.
Practicing Lifting the Sky for about 2 minutes a day is a great habit, and I highly recommend that you start there. Try to do it every morning for 30 days. You’ll feel great, and you’ll unwind a lot of stress, which is the start of self-healing.
Lifting The Sky – Step 1
- Keep your feet about 1-4 inches apart.
- Your weight should be spread evenly over your feet.
- Try to keep your jaw relaxed. It should be so relaxed that it hangs gently open.
- Close your mouth only when you need to swallow your saliva.
- Your toes should be pointing forward.
- Your hands should be relaxed by your sides.
- Your posture should be upright, but relaxed.
- Your chest should be soft but also open.
- Your nose should point forward.
Lifting The Sky – Step 2
- Your palms should face down toward the ground.
- Your fingers should point toward each other. But don’t force this though.
- Your fingers should have some space between them.
- Your arms are should be straight, but not if it’s uncomfortable.
- Your neck should tilt down, as if looking at the hands. (The eyes may be closed.)
- Don’t lean the body forward.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Keep your jaw is still relaxed.
Lifting The Sky – Step 3
- Your arms arc up smoothly.
- Your nose follows the movement of the hands, even if the eyes are closed.
- Your arms stay pretty straight (but not so straight that you are uncomfortable.)
- Breathe in gently through the nose as you arc upward.
- The mouth can stay open, or it can close gently for the inhale.
- Keep your body relaxed even though it remains still.
- Close the eyes once you get the hang of it.
Lifting The Sky – Step 4
- At the top of the arc, lift up gently, as if pressing the sky with your palms.
- Don’t lift the shoulders. Instead, stretch and decompress the spine.
- You can pause the breathing for a moment during the lift.
- Keep the heels down during the lift.
- Your nose should point upward.
- The angle of your neck is up to you, and should be comfortable.
- Try not to use strength. Keep it gentle.
Lifting The Sky – Step 5
- Lower your arms smoothly down, like a bird flapping its wings.
- Your wrists are no longer bent.
- Breathe out gently through the mouth with a “haa” sound as your arms are dropping.
- The exhalation should be similar to how you would fog up a mirror with your breath, but gentler.
- The neck gradually returns to normal with the nose pointing forward.
Lifting The Sky – Step 6
- Return to the starting position.
- The nose should point forward.
- Remember to keep the jaw relaxed.
- Eyes closed if you can.
- Pause here for a moment.
- Pause your breathing too. Don’t hold your breath, but just pause if gently.
- Go to Step 2.
The steps are fluid, not static. There are slight pauses in the movement, but the steps should flow from one to another.
If you want to learn Lifting The Sky in more depth, and you want help actually putting it into action, then click here to learn about my 2 Minute Qigong course.
Make the exercise as comfortable as possible. If it’s not comfortable, if you’re not enjoying yourself, then you’re not doing it correctly, even if the form is correct.
If you have any questions, then post them in the comments sections below and I’ll get you some answers.
Go ahead and share this page with friends and family. Hopefully, you’ll pique their interest in qigong and self-healing. Who knows, maybe they’ll get serious about qigong and make major changes in their health. If so, then it will all trace back to the moment when you shared this page with them!
For me, it all traces back to the moment when I found my first qigong book, so I know it’s totally possible! Mindfully yours, Sifu Anthony I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. I’ve already taught thousands of people from all over the world how to use qigong for their own stubborn health challenges. As the director of Flowing Zen and a board member for the National Qigong Association, I'm fully committed to helping people with these arts. In addition to my blog, I also teach online courses and offer in-person retreats and workshops.