Why Qigong Students Should Stop Lifting The Tongue

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Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

“Should I lift the tip of my tongue to the roof of my mouth?” Gina asked.

“Why would you do that?” I asked.

“Because that’s what I learned from another qigong teacher,” she said.

“Yes, but WHY?” I asked. “Why did she tell you to do it, and why are you doing it now?”

Gina stared at me, blinking.

“I just thought that’s what you’re supposed to do in qigong,” she said.

I see this all the time with students. There’s a ton of confusion about the tongue in qigong. (Hey, that rhymes!)

In this article, I’ll explain why some qigong teachers tell you to lift the tongue.

I’ll also make a strong argument for why you might want to stop.

Asking Questions: A Modern Innovation

A Q&A session at our retreat center in Costa Rica

When I teach, I not only allow students to ask questions, but encourage them to do so.

Like most modern educators, I know that this is an essential part of good teaching.

But that’s not the traditional way of teaching qigong. Not even close.

Throughout most of the history of qigong and tai chi, students probably asked very few questions.

Here’s why.

Let’s imagine that a student is learning qigong in China roughly 200 years ago.

And let’s imagine that the Sifu (or teacher) tells the student to lift the tip of the tongue to touch the roof of her mouth.

“Sifu, why do we lift the tongue like this?” the student asks.

The student would probably receive one of the following answers from her Sifu:

  1. “Because I said so!”
  2. Silence, followed by a lightning-fast whack from the Sifu’s walking stick.

To the modern teacher, this probably seems like terrible pedagogy. And it certainly would be today in the West.

But we shouldn’t be so quick to judge masters who taught like this.

Past masters in China wanted to encourage their students to answer their own questions through practice, rather than through intellectualization.

They were also teaching in a totally different setting — one where secrecy was the norm, and the goals of practice were significantly different.

As times changed, so did the way that questions were asked and answered.

A 20th Century Answer

As qigong and tai chi migrated to the West, traditional teachers quickly realized that they couldn’t teach the old way.

So they did what humans do best: they adapted.

For example, let’s imagine a student learning qigong in the US in the 1970s.

And let’s imagine that, just like the example above, the Sifu tells her to lift the tip of the tongue to touch the roof of her mouth.

“Sifu, why do we lift the tongue like this?” the student asks.

Since the Sifu can’t give the student a good whack for an answer, and since “because I said so,” probably wouldn’t cut it either, she opts for a curt answer instead:

“Because it connects the ren mai and du mai,” she responds. Then she walks away, preventing further questions.

A 21st Century Answer

Now let’s imagine a modern, 21st century student learning from a Western teacher.

And let’s imagine that, just like the 2 examples above, the Sifu tells her to lift the tip of the tongue to touch the roof of her mouth.

“Sifu, why do we lift the tongue like this?” the student asks.

This time, the Sifu responds as follows:

“Lifting the tongue to the roof of the mouth connects the Ren Mai  (which runs from the chin down the centerline to the perineum) to the Du Mai (which runs from the perineum up the centerline of the back, around the head, and down to the upper lip), which is one of the steps toward opening an energy circuit called the Small Universe, sometimes called the Microcosmic Orbit, or Xiao Zhou Tian in Chinese.”

That’s a pretty thorough answer! But is it helpful?

Meh. Not really.

It’s interesting enough, and it will probably satisfy the Western mind.

But what we really need is a follow-up question.

For example:

“Sifu, why am I practicing the Small Universe?”

Now we’re getting somewhere!

Why Practice the Small Universe?

The Small Universe (小周天) is one of the oldest qigong techniques known.

A text dating back to 300 B.C. called The Circulating Qi Inscription (Xing Qi Ming, 行氣銘) describes the technique almost exactly the way it is practiced today.

But what is it, and why would anyone want to practice it?

It’s a powerful qigong method that transforms and “mixes” the energies of the human body in a way that is exceedingly useful for both martial artists and spiritualists.

For martial artists, the Small Universe will give you more power and more stamina.

For spiritualists, the Small Universe will help to refine your energy in a way that will make spiritual experiences more frequent and more intense.

Sounds good, right?

Not so fast.

The Small Universe isn’t just ancient; it’s also advanced.

In addition to asking WHY we should practice the Small Universe, we should also be asking WHEN.

When Should We Learn the Small Universe?

Some schools of qigong teach the Small Universe early, even to relative beginners.

This baffles me. For the life of me, I can’t find a good reason to do this.

Meanwhile, I can find many reasons NOT to do it.

As I said, the Small Universe is an advanced technique.

It requires a combination of many different advanced qigong skills, like directing the qi, consolidating the qi, and purifying the qi. (Click here to read more about the 12 main qigong skills.)

If you practice the techniques of the Small Universe too early in your qigong development, you won’t have the skill to get the benefits from this powerful method.

What’s worse, you might even hurt yourself.

Years ago, I wrote about about the dangers of practicing the Small Universe without proper training.

To this day, I still receive emails from students who attempted the Small Universe, and hurt themselves doing so.

Luckily, the damage is reversible with remedial qigong techniques. But why take such a risk in the first place?

[Edit: simply lifting the tongue doesn’t count as practicing the Small Universe, so it doesn’t carry the same risk. But there are other problems with lifting the tongue, as I explain below.]

Is the Small Universe Necessary?

You can’t master the art of qigong without practicing the Small Universe.

But many students mistakenly think that the Small Universe is necessary for healing.

This is totally untrue.

As I said, the Small Universe is great for martial artists and spiritualists.

But when it comes to healing pain and illness, there are options that are both safer and more efficient than the Small Universe.

In fact, there is an entire category of qigong dedicated to healing pain and illness.

It’s called — big surprise — Medical Qigong!

Choose the Right Type of Qigong

A medical qigong exercise called Plucking Stars that is great for digestive problems because it nourishes the Spleen and Stomach Channels

Remember Gina from the beginning of this post?

She assumed that qigong was just qigong, and that you always lift the tongue.

But Qigong is actually a modern, umbrella term for many different types of qi cultivation.

All styles of qigong trace back to China, and all share a the concept of qi, but HOW they go about cultivating that qi is different.

And their goals are different too.

There are 5 different types, or categories, of qigong:

  1. Medical Qigong
  2. Vitality (or Longevity) Qigong
  3. Scholarly (or Intellectual) Qigong
  4. Martial Qigong
  5. Spiritual Qigong

Each category also tells you its main goal:

  • Medical Qigong aims to heal pain and illness.
  • Vitality Qigong aims to keep you healthy and full of vitality for a long time.
  • Scholarly Qigong aims to improve memory, concentration, and creativity.
  • Martial Qigong aims to improve power and performance in martial arts.
  • Spiritual Qigong aims to cultivate the mind and the spirit.

Here’s something that many people don’t understand:

Most of the qigong taught within the tai chi tradition is Martial Qigong!

This isn’t surprising because tai chi is a martial art. (If you didn’t know this, then click here to watch a quick video and learn more.)

Now we can see why so many students are taught to lift the tongue — because they learned within the context of tai chi.

In other words, they learned Martial Qigong.

And the Small Universe is a major part of most types of Martial Qigong.

The 12 Primary Channels

A modern model used by acupuncturists that shows the 12 Primary Channels and their corresponding acu-points

Medical Qigong is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), making it a cousin of acupuncture.

According to TCM theory, you have 12 Primary Channels:

  1. Taiyin Lung Channel of the Hand (手太阴肺经)
  2. Shaoyin Heart Channel of the Hand (手少阴心经)
  3. Jueyin Pericardium Channel of the Hand (手厥阴心包经)
  4. Shaoyang Sanjiao Channel of the Hand (手少阳三焦经)
  5. Taiyang Small Intestine Channel of the Hand (手太阳小肠经)
  6. Yangming Large Intestine Channel of the Hand (手阳明大肠经)
  7. Taiyin Spleen Channel of the Foot (足太阴脾经)
  8. Shaoyin Kidney Channel of the Foot (足少阴肾经)
  9. Jueyin Liver Channel of the Foot (足厥阴肝经)
  10. Shaoyang Gallbladder Channel of the Foot (足少阳胆经)
  11. Taiyang Bladder Channel of  the Foot (足太阳膀胱经)
  12. Yangming Stomach Channel of  the Foot (足阳明胃经)

Some of those may be confusing, but I’m sure you noticed that there are some pretty important organs listed in there.

You also have what are known as the 8 Extraordinary Vessels:

  1. Conception Vessel (Ren Mai, 任脈)
  2. Governing Vessel (Du Mai, 督脈)
  3. Penetrating Vessel (Chong Mai, 衝脈)
  4. Girdle Vessel (Dai Mai, 帶脈)
  5. Yin Linking vessel (Yin Wei Mai, 陰維脈)
  6. Yang Linking vessel (Yang Wei Mai,陽維脈)
  7. Yin Heel Vessel (Yin Qiao Mai, 陰蹻脈)
  8. Yang Heel Vessel (Yang Qiao Mai, 陽蹻脈)

The Small Universe deals with the first two of these vessels — the Ren Mai and Du Mai.

In other words, it ignores all of the 12 Primary Channels, and ignores 6 out of the 8 Extraordinary Vessels.

If you want to heal from pain and illness, then you should choose the right tool for the job.

Medical Qigong, which focuses on the 12 Primary Channels, is a better choice than the Small Universe, which focuses on the Ren and Du Vessels.

What Happens if You Rush to the Small Universe

If you jump to the techniques of the Small Universe too early, you may end up diverting energy away from the 12 Primary Channels in order to feed the Ren and Du Vessels.

This can happen especially if you haven’t gathered enough qi into your system — something that takes time — or if you haven’t cleared enough of the energy blockages in your system.

Even though the vessels and channels are connected, it’s a bad idea to divert energy away from your 12 Primary Channels.

For example, the Heart Channel is considered the Emperor of the entire system.

Starving the Heart Channel of qi by diverting it to the Ren and Du Vessels could potentially wreak havoc on your energy system.

Why take the risk?

Most people come to qigong because they have chronic pain or illness. They want to be healthier, have more energy, and be happier.

We can accomplish all of that without the Small Universe.

Later, once you’re healthier, once you’ve spent time circulating and gathering your qi, then you can start to learn advanced techniques like the Small Universe.

So What Should I Do With My Tongue?!?

Okay, we’ve established that you probably shouldn’t be practicing the Small Universe if you’re a beginner who is working on chronic pain and illness.

But what if you lift the tongue when you’re NOT doing the Small Universe?

If you have tension in your tongue or your jaw — both of which are common for beginners — then lifting the tongue can actually block the flow of qi, not only through the Small Universe, but through all 12 channels.

Does that sound like a good idea? Nope. It’s not.

While it’s not the worst mistake in the world, you’re probably better off keeping the tongue and the jaw relaxed.

Of course, once you start learning and practicing the Small Universe, you’ll need to start lift your tongue. But by then, you’ll be better at releasing tension.

If you’re already learning from a Sifu who asks you to lift the tongue and you feel that you can ask a question without being rude, then go ahead and ask why! Be polite, and give your Sifu the benefit of the doubt, especially if they are from an Eastern culture.

And if you already have the habit of raising the tongue, then make sure there’s no extra tension in the tongue (usually caused by pressing upward too hard), or in the jaw (usually caused by clenching the teeth or holding the jaw rigidly).

In my qigong style, we typically breathe in gently through the nose, and out gently through the mouth. So the exhalation naturally causes you to disconnect the tongue anyway.

If you’re using this breathing method, then gently lifting the tongue during the inhalation is not a problem at all.

What it Feels Like

Let me be clear that I love practicing the Small Universe, and I do it often.

My hope for you is that you’ll one day experience the true power of this technique. To do that, you need the proper training, skill, and sensitivity.

When you’re ready, when you begin to practice the Small Universe — amazing things start to happen.

I wish I could describe the feeling when you lift the tongue to the right spot and connect the circuits of the Ren and Du Mai.

But words fall short. I’m sorry. I can’t describe it.

I hope you’ll keep practicing so that you can experience it for yourself one day. It’s worth the wait.


Lifting the tongue to the roof of the mouth is only necessary when practicing an advanced qigong method called The Small Universe.

If you’re a beginner, then it’s better to work on relaxing the tongue and the jaw in order to relax the entire nervous system.

If you’ve got chronic pain or illness, it’s best to focus on Medical Qigong exercises, like the 18 Luohan Hands.

If you want to learn a wonderful Medical Qigong exercise for free, click here.  

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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52 Responses to Why Qigong Students Should Stop Lifting The Tongue

  1. Nicky January 25, 2017 at 4:52 am #

    Thank you Anthony, for your thorough explanation of the different forms of Qigong. And as a experienced Qigong practitioner I can feel the difference of practicing the different forms from my teacher Kong Mien Ho in the Netherlands.
    With a smile, Nicky Derksen

  2. Suyog January 25, 2017 at 5:12 am #

    Oh wow I am so used to lifting tongue it is going to take a while to not lift it. THANK YOU FOR THE SIMPLE EXPLANATIONS! AND yes I want to experience the small universe

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 25, 2017 at 7:43 am #

      It will take some practice, but it’s not that hard. Look for residual tension in the tongue and jaw. I’m betting that you’ll find some!

  3. Dariusz Gwizdowski January 25, 2017 at 5:48 am #

    Thank You very much for that article.
    I’m still having problem with that tongue it comes up automatically because that what i been thought when i started doing my Qigong.
    Monk that thought me Qigong was calling it ‘Qigong for longevity’ but still he said to lift the tongue up and hold it touching behind front teeth.

    Well i guess i have to force myself to stop doing it for some time.

  4. juliocastro31 January 25, 2017 at 8:40 am #

    I loved your answer. At last I get a reply with more arguments jejeje thank you very much

  5. Libby D January 25, 2017 at 9:39 am #

    Thank you, Sifu, for this clear and informative post!

  6. Zana January 25, 2017 at 9:55 am #

    Very good post! I had a similiar discussion the other day with a spiritual Yoga student. I practice Dayan (Wildgoose) Qigong – which is a mixture of medical and martial qigong – with the tongue up during the first and last posture. The whole style includes 64 different postures.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 25, 2017 at 10:13 am #

      Thanks, Zana!

      I learned some Wild Goose Qigong from Dr. Bingkun Hu years ago. I enjoyed it, and incorporate some of his exercises in my practice. Keep up the good work!

  7. AnMa January 25, 2017 at 10:09 am #

    Thank you! I have heard to lift the tongue before, from youtube videos or maybe when I tried tai chi also. I never asked why, I thought it was just a good thing!

    Is it possible to accidentally do the small universe and hurt ourselves? Like, let’s say I’m at work at my computer and my tongue lifts unconsciously, is it possible to hurt myself? Like, is it possible to unconsciously do the small universe by accident?

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 25, 2017 at 10:12 am #

      Hi AnMa. To answer your question, no you don’t need to worry about accidentally hurting yourself with the Small Universe.

      It would take months of diligent, daily practice of the technique to cause harm.

      • AnMa January 25, 2017 at 10:40 am #

        Oh great haha
        Thanks 😉

  8. dionshortgmailcom January 25, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    The saying, “You can’t go wrong with Allstate” is applicable to Sifu: “You can’t go wrong with Sufi Anthony”. Thanks again for sharing your tremendous knowledge! Your blogs are gems!

  9. Ellen Shapiro January 25, 2017 at 10:35 am #

    As a Qigong student and teacher, I really appreciate this information about the types of Qigong, and about the historical context of teaching qigong, and how it has changed. You are talking about the Microcosmic orbit here, in referring to the small Universe? My teacher explained that keeping the tongue on the roof of the mouth is important in forms where we are actively cultivating the jing, because the jing will collect in the saliva which we then swallow down consciously at several points in the practice.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 25, 2017 at 10:39 am #

      Thanks, Ellen. I’m glad it was helpful!

      Yes, the Small Universe and the Microcosmic Orbit are both translations of Xiao Zhou Tian (小周天).

      In the method of the Small Universe that I teach, we actively swallow the saliva during certain stages. I’m guessing that your teacher is talking about something similar.

  10. lrivera0517 January 25, 2017 at 1:57 pm #

    Beautifully explained. Thank you for your continued dedication to the art and eduction of the public, Sifu.

  11. Charles Gill January 25, 2017 at 6:55 pm #

    Anthony, while I can see energetically why you would say not to lift your tongue. Do you mean by lift, keeping the tip of the tongue on the incisive papilla. With this I would take exception. The tongue needs to be lifted and kept in contact with the incisive papilla in order to promote normal breathing. keeping the tongue on the incisive papilla or spot as the myofunctional therapist call it helps to lower your blood pressure, calm the heart, digestion will improve not to mention you won’t bite your tongue if you get hit. Keeping the tongue flat promotes flaccid muscles in the back of the throat that can cause sleep apnea, snoring and poor quality of rest due to poor air intake. I believe that if a student is properly taught the microcosmic orbit or Small Universe they should be able to start it and stop it at will.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 25, 2017 at 8:24 pm #

      Hi Charles. Yes, in the article, I am referring to lifting the tongue to the incisive papilla.

      You make some pretty strong claims about lifting the tongue. Do you have any evidence?

      I have my own evidence against your statement that lifting the tongue is necessary for normal breathing. I’ve taught literally thousands of students to breathe well with the tongue relaxed.

      These same students have lowered their blood pressure, improved their digestion, and gotten rid of sleep apnea — all without touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth.

      How can you explain the remarkable results that my students consistently get despite the tongue not connecting with the incisive papilla?

      • Lance January 26, 2017 at 3:12 pm #

        Regardless of outcomes, our bodies are designed to move/flow using the least amount of effort. A relaxed tongue is wide, soft and resting on the roof of the mouth and slopes downward before the soft palate. Some where in this range is ideal. The “norm” is that everyone-their bodies, their anatomy, their function, the way their energy moves/flows, etc.- is different. A dropped, or what you are referring to as a relaxed tongue, does change the way you breathe. It will typically reguire a little more effort. It may not even be perceptible. It also changes the way C1 moves, which in turn changes the way the body/energy moves and flows. A dropped tongue restricts C1. This does not mean you can not breath “normally.” This does not mean that you can not have “remarkable” results. I know many people that have remarkable results doing things that would make most doctors, including to but not limited to, acupuncture, chiropractors, cringe. Anyway, to each their own in regard to their theories, ideas and such. Everyone is teaching within a paradigm or their or someone else’s interpretation. This does not mean anyone is right or wrong. Keep up the good teachings.

        • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 26, 2017 at 4:03 pm #

          Hi Lance. Can you tell me where the idea that a dropped tongue restricts C1 comes from? I’m not disagreeing with you per se, but rather wondering where the information comes from. Thanks!

          • Lance January 26, 2017 at 7:58 pm #

            I can’t recall the exact person I heard this from. It was many years ago. But I believe this idea comes from either Dr. Rolf, Feldenkrais or Alexander. The way I see it, our bodies are round under tension and our breath should be round. The inhale is expansive, openning should occur through out the whole body, including each joint space. The exhale is a gentle return. Any compressive force, as in the tongue pressing into the roof of the month or pulled downward, restricts or has the potential to restrict. You may never notice any difference in your experience with tounge position. And you may be able to relax your tounge completely in the position you chose to use and or teach. I am not trying to convince you to change your understanding. Honestly I do not know if this idea does relate to a specific practice of Qigong. That is not my experience. I know that tounge position greatly changes my experience and the people I teach (not Qigong). I encourage all to explore movement and different ways of thinking as this tends to lead to a new perspective and or perception.

            • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 26, 2017 at 8:23 pm #

              Hi Lance. Thanks for that info. It gives me something to work with as I try to look deeper into it.

              Let me clarify that we typically breath in gently through the nose, and out gently through the mouth. It’s necessary and good to drop the tongue when you exhale, but it’s fine to life the tongue on the inhale.

              Very few qigong schools use this breathing method. Instead, they typically breathe in and out through the nose. In that case, the tongue never gets a chance to relax.

              However, mine is by no means the only school of qigong that lowers the tongue during the exhale.

              So we might have a case of East meets West, which is always an interesting journey!

            • Cindy February 2, 2017 at 9:16 pm #

              Hi Lance,

              You stated you teach. I was intrigued by your responce. What do you teach? What is your occupation?

            • Barb April 14, 2017 at 8:45 am #

              Hi Lance and Anthony,

              I was told to place my tongue at the roof of the mouth in both TCC and qigong. And I was told to let my tongue simply rest behind the lower teeth in the Japanese arts.

              I’ve been looking for more explanations on this (since instructions were a long time ago and I might have confused things) because right now in my practice it feels WAY better to follow the Japanese instructions. Which btw comes from the style Moshe Feldenkrais has supposedly practiced before he created his exercise-system. So this would tie in with what Lance noted.

              Today it feels like “roof of the mouth” would mean more energy and more alertness with maybe higher blood pressure. While letting the tongue rest at the bottom makes relaxing easier and might lower blood pressure. I wonder if you, Anthony, could validate this from your own experience?

              It would make sense to be “battle-ready”, to put the tongue up and you would have to practice to know how. It doesn’t make too much sense to do so when you are practicing for relaxing mainly, I think.

              When teaching I no longer mention position of the tongue. Just “relax and let happen naturally”. Seems to give good results so far.

              And great article, Anthony! I like your style, thanks! I’m glad you pointed out that small circuit is advanced study. I have been taught while I was not quite a raw beginner but too early. Got headaches and simply stopped.

            • Sifu Anthony Korahais April 14, 2017 at 9:51 am #

              Hi Barb. Thanks for the kind words. Sorry to hear that you got headaches with the Small Universe. Unfortunately, it’s more common than people think.

              To answer your question, I’ve never measured my heart rate, blood pressure, or heart rate variability while doing Small Universe compared to more basic techniques. It’s a great idea, and I might try it. I’ll have to steal the blood pressure cuff from my wife’s clinic though. 😉

              My guess is that a relaxed tongue probably does relax the nervous system a bit more. But the nervous system can still be quite relaxed, even during the Small Universe.

  12. Jeff January 25, 2017 at 10:49 pm #

    I have studied under two previous teachers. They both taught small universe, touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth and even reverse breathing almost right away. There’s no telling what kind of havoc I wreaked on my system following that teaching.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 26, 2017 at 7:48 am #

      Jeff, just to clarify, did you experience obvious problems with that method? Not everyone does.

      • Jeff January 26, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

        I didn’t experience obvious problems that I am aware of, but the question remains: at that stage of development, if I was causing subtle damage, would I have been aware of it? The honest answer is I just don’t know.

        • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 26, 2017 at 12:36 pm #

          Yes, you probably would have noticed the diarrhea, the headaches, and the malaise! They’re hard to miss!

          It sounds like yours wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the cases I’ve seen.

          Did you also get benefits from practicing that method?

          • Jeff January 26, 2017 at 3:48 pm #

            In that case, then, I would say I did pretty well. I did not have any of the side effects you mentioned, and I did have some significant benefits. For example: after leaving the Army, I had two collapsed discs in my back. The pain was excruciating and I could barely walk for more than five minutes without leaning on something. My doctor said it would probably get better only with surgery but it was risky. I opted instead to use the qigong that I knew at the time. I don’t know if the condition of discs changed but I was able to regain my abilities. I can walk for long distances, run, do martial arts stuff, etc.

            Of course now, putting the tongue on the roof of my mouth has become second nature. I do it almost 24/7 without even thinking about it. It would be a difficult habit to break as I do it unconsciously.

            • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 26, 2017 at 3:54 pm #

              Sounds like you got some great results! I wouldn’t worry about any harm caused by the practice. It’s not clear that there was any, and if there was, it was probably minor.

              Keep the tongue up if you like. You’re not a beginner. But check for residual tension. You can get rid of that!

  13. Ando Mierzwa January 26, 2017 at 10:23 am #

    Another excellent article, Sifu Anthony! Your clear and concise teaching style is admirable! Keep flowing! 🙂

  14. Anne Rodgers January 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm #

    Hello Sifu Anthony,
    Two questions..there are many types of qigong but is there only one type of chi? And when you speak of not lifting the tongue, is that all the time or only when doing qigong? Thanks, Anne

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 26, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

      Hi Anne.

      Well, technically, there are many different types of qi in humans and in the cosmos. But all styles of qigong are referring to the same basic concept of qi.

      Lifting the tongue is only an issue if it’s causing tension in the tongue and jaw. If so, then try to relax that tension, whether you are practicing qigong or not.

  15. Darlene January 27, 2017 at 8:19 am #

    Hi Sifu Anthony.

    I notice that when I gently place my tongue on my upper palate behind my upper teeth, with a relaxed jaw, that my balance is greatly improved, my entire body is more relaxed, my endurance is increased, I feel sturdier, and my mind seems better focused. This placement feels very natural to me. I believe I was instinctively placing my tongue here since I was I very small child.

    I’ve had many different teachers of various forms of qigong, Tai Chi, and meditation over the past 24 years suggest this placement, although I’ve not had formal training in Small Universe.

    Could it be coincidental that I find this placement so beneficial?

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 27, 2017 at 8:38 am #

      Hi Darlene.

      To answer your question, no I doubt that it’s coincidental. You’re probably connecting the Small Universe, even without training. In fact, the healthiest way to open the Small Universe is to just be patient and let it open on its own!

      Can you feel the qi circulating along the Ren and Du channels?

      • Darlene January 27, 2017 at 9:17 am #

        That, I am not sure.

        • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 27, 2017 at 10:05 am #

          So it sounds like you might have partially opened the Small Universe. Good for you!

          When it is completely open, you’ll feel it. The sensation of the qi moving around the orbit is obvious. You can’t miss it.

          • Darlene January 27, 2017 at 10:51 am #

            Thank you. I am curious though. Are we born with Small Universe open?

            • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 27, 2017 at 11:11 am #

              I don’t know. What I do know is that learning and practicing the technique dramatically enhances the feeling of the Small Universe.

  16. Debora Giarrusso January 28, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

    Dear Sifu, many years ago I followed the yoga teachings and techniques of Paramahansa Yogananda , including also a pranayama very similar to the Small Universe, Kryia Yoga, but I stopped them because I realized that I was not yet prepared. I understood that if I did not first balance, transmute, my removed emotional charges , I risked to reinforce precisely these emotional blockages, by feeding them with the large amount of energy circulated by pranayama.
    I’m still very interested in the spiritual and alchemical Qi Gong, but for now I’m really happy to follow your wonderful 101 course of medical Qi Gong, to heal my emotional wounds and blocks first.

  17. Tonio February 2, 2017 at 5:29 am #

    Hello again Sifu,

    On my second year going on third year of qigong I learned the small circulation from my master (from ren mai to du mai to be more yin and du mai to ren mai to be more yang). For a good majority of the year I practiced circulating through du mai to ren mai and I do see the power of the tongue in this practice. I felt the energy flow through this path but nothing theatrically dramatic. Though I do notice that I can retain my jing longer for 90 days without a nocturnal emission.

    I spoke to another Qigong/Kung Fu master ( who is not my main master but I went to him to help fix my mom’s shoulder) and he said that men should circulate from du mai to ren mai and women should circulate from ren mai to du mai by default. But a man can circulate from ren mai to du mai and a woman can circulate from du mai to ren mai only sparingly. I tried ren mai to du mai one time when I was stressed out from my life’s circumstances and I noticed a huge difference in my stress/agitation levels and how my adrenals felt restored. People thought I was a different person. It worked so well that the effects lasted for a a few weeks. After those few weeks I tried it again and it worked the same way and etc.

    However after I had a seminal emission and after waiting 24 hours to try the ren mai to du mai path again it did not work like it usually does. After one week of waiting it worked a little bit but it still was not as effective. Next time I plan on waiting for three weeks to try it again and see what happens.

    Have you tried circulating the path through ren mai and du mai? How often should a male circulate in this direction and a women circulate in the opposite direction?

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais February 2, 2017 at 9:42 pm #

      Hi Tonio.

      Different masters have different approaches, but I can’t agree with the master who said that men and women should circulate in different directions. There’s no question that both men and women can circulate down the Ren and up the Du. I and many of my students are proof of this.

      My teaching focuses on the Fire Path of the Small Universe, which means down the front of the body, and up the back. The Wind Path is the opposite direction, and is rarer. I’ve practiced it a bit, but I don’t do it often, nor do I teach it.

  18. Yacine Bayou March 6, 2017 at 7:23 pm #

    This is very informative. Thank you. In the article you mentioned that there is a risk in practicing the small universe by placing the tongue on the roof of the mouth but my question is : is there a risk for practicing the small universe without placing the tongue on the roof of the mouth? Regards,

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais March 7, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

      Hi Yacine.

      The problem is with incorrectly practicing the Small Universe, not with the tongue. If you practice the Small Universe correctly, you won’t have problems. And to practice it correctly, it’s best to lift the tongue correctly.

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