The 5-Phase Flowing Zen Routine

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Why do my students and I get such amazing results?

One of the biggest secrets is not just what we practice, but how.

And also how long.

You may be surprised to hear that we don’t practice for hours at a time. Instead, we typically practice for about 15 minutes per session.

Somehow, we seem to get better results practicing for 15 minutes than many qigong and tai chi practitioners do practicing for an hour!

But how is this possible?

The answer is simple: It’s because of something called the 5-Phase Routine

But what’s so great about it?

Quality over Quantity

Qigong is a form of mindfulness meditation, or at least it should be.

In my tradition, we Enter Zen in the beginning of each session. This means that we enter into a gentle and relaxed state of mind.

Staying in this Zen state of mind for 15 minutes is totally doable.  But staying in a Zen state for 60 minutes is hard.

Really hard.

By keeping your practice session short and sweet, you keep the quality of the Zen mind much higher.

This has a compounding effect that pushes the effectiveness way up.  It allows for powerful results that aren’t possible with a lower quality session.

Qigong Cross-Training

There are countless styles of qigong, and different categories as well, like Medical Qigong, Martial Qigong, and Spiritual Qigong.

But all of these styles and types utilize 3 different ways of cultivating the energy:

  1. Stillness Qigong
  2. Dynamic Qigong
  3. Spontaneous Qigong.

Most qigong routines only incorporate one or two of these. The beauty of the 5-Phase Routine is that it incorporates all three categories — in every session.


The single most important factor for success in these arts is consistency of practice.

If you don’t practice regularly, you won’t get good results.  Period.

The 5-Phase Routine is doable for everyone, no matter how busy you are. 

Truthfully, even 15 minutes will be hard for many people to do daily.  But with some good goal-setting, a little willpower, and a few 30-day trials, you can definitely do it.

What if you’re already consistent with a daily practice routine like yoga, or sitting meditation?

Great. Keep those habits. Since this routine is only 15 minutes, it should be easy to insert into your daily schedule.

The 5-Phase Routine

Below are the details for the 5-Phase Routine that I teach.

Phase 1: The Opening Sequence

  • Stand upright and relax.
  • Find your center
  • Relax from head to toe.
  • Relax twice as much.
  • Smile from the heart!

Purpose:  To enter into a Zen state of mind so that we can successfully cultivate energy in Phase 2.

Phase 2: Dynamic Exercises

Purpose: To get the energy (or qi) flowing.

Phase 3: Energy Flow

Purpose: To circulate the energy (or qi), thus allowing the body to heal.

Phase 4: Consolidation

  • Flowing Stillness

Purpose: To consolidate the benefits gained in Phases 1-3.

Phase 5: The Closing Sequence

  • Thinking Gently of Dantian
  • Rubbing the Hands
  • Warming the Eyes
  • Patting the Eyes Open
  • Washing the Face
  • Combing the Hair
  • The Point Massage
  • Rubbing Coins
  • 24 Heavenly Drums

(Click here for a video of the closing sequence)

Purpose: To help us transition back from a deep meditative state, and also to bring energy to the face and the eyes.


The timing of the 5-Phase Routine should be dynamic. In other words, the time spent on each phase will change slightly from session to session. Sometimes, the entire routine will only take ten minutes, and sometimes it will take twenty.

Most importantly, follow the 3 Golden Rules. The 5-Phase Routine is not a chore to be endured; it is a wonder to be enjoyed.

Got questions about this routine? Post them below!

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 to use qigong for their own stubborn health issues. I teach online courses, and also lead in-person retreats and workshops.

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9 Responses to The 5-Phase Flowing Zen Routine

  1. John November 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    Thank you. Really enjoyed the “5 ways to stay Zen during the holidays” and am really amazed by the free tips you provide. Hopefully others will appreciate it as much as I do…..another thing to be grateful for. Be well and have a happy Thanksgiving.

  2. Laurie Goslinga November 30, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    Hi Sifu! i like to do 3 dynamic excercises in that part of the fifteen min. drill. Lifting the sky, carrying the moon and pushing mountains. I rarely feel like varying from that routine but I do practice some tai chi after closing. Is this ok? The time goes too quickly!

    • Sifu Anthony November 30, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

      Laurie, it would be better to do the Tai Chi before the closing. In that case, you may do more than 15 minutes. This is acceptable because you’re doing Tai Chi as well, which helps to spread the energy. I will be writing another blog post on this subject soon.

  3. Lauren January 1, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    Hi Sifu,

    I have a question about doing lifting the sky and 2 finger zen. I’ve gotten into a habit of doing it every morning for about 10-15 minutes right when I wake up, which is great because it’s the first time in years I’ve ever done this. …BUT there’s one problem or bad habit I’ve gotten and I’m not sure how detrimental it is to my practice, it’s that I’m usually so tired and lazy that I stay in bed and sit up indian style or on the edge of my bed and do these exercises because I’m half asleep at first and don’t want to stand up. So, I”m doing them sitting down. Is this really bad? When I do them standing when the weekend comes I can certainly feel the difference in Qi flow.

    Thank you,


    • Sifu Anthony January 4, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

      Hi Lauren,

      It’s fine to do a little Lifting The Sky while lying in bed or sitting, but leave aside Two Finger Zen. If you’re going to do Two Finger Zen, do it for real.


  4. John March 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Nice article, although I would disagree that you need a master to start doing spontaneous qigong. I started doing by myself during regular qigong practice. The first time it happened, I didnt even know what it was.

  5. Lessane March 23, 2017 at 3:37 am #

    What exactly is Flowing Stillness? Is it the same as zhan zhuang, or are you talking about the small microcosmic orbit, or something else entirely?

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