Understanding Qi

The-Qi-Store aims to provide a general understanding of the concept and theory of QI, so that people new to Qigong and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may be introduced to the basics of how it acts and flows in the human system according to the theory TCM.  

There are numerous excellent sources online that will help you gain a more complete understanding of the TCM paradigm. We recommend you start by seeing the videos on understanding Qi.


In all systems of energetic practice and cultivation, the supporting layer and blueprint of all physical matter is understood as bio energy - QI - life force. The energy is always there and is in everything, but it is generally invisible to the spectrum of the senses of an untrained person. By training qigong, tai-chi, yoga, meditation and/or martial arts, the spectum of the senses increases, making the energetic reality a practical sensory experience that can then be perceived, studied, modeled and manipulated.

Qi has several characteristics that distinguish it from just a subtle energy charge: 1) Qi is everywhere and animates everything. 2) It is information 3) It is imbued with intelligence 4) It is free and accessible to everyone. 

One of the oldest and most mature systems of energetic understanding is that of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Its roots can be traced to an even more essential practice of Daoist Qigong. The linked videos give and excellent introduction to understanding qi.

The most known and most commonly used theoretical framework to come out of TCM is the Theory of Five Elements. It is a very logical and simple model that describes how energy flows within the basic energetic anatomy of any human being. The theory of 5 elements is conceptual tool that can help in the understanding of your body's internal workings and how to work to keep it healthy and vital. The theory is based on thousands of years of observation and experimentation and is still around because it has proven to be highly effective as means by which anyone can locate and treat an imbalance in the energetic anatomy. 


From the TCM point of view, illnesses or disease do not exist as such but are manifestations of energy that is in excess, deficient or blocked. When the underlying layer supporting physical matter is hindered from acting in its ideal patterns and flows there will be observable symptoms. As long as the energy flows well, illness and disease will not manifest in the physical body. Good health is achieved by making sure that all the bio-energies of the body are balanced and flowing, and by cultivating them through various forms of practice. A healthy life style is an important way to avoid energy imbalances. Balanced energies lead to a balanced body and mind, which spontaneously results in a more harmonious and joyous experience of life.

Many different factors such as internal and external pathogens can cause blockages in the energy flow. In the human body, energy moves within a certain architecture or anatomy, that is represented in the physical structure as the body's organs and tissues. It is important to note that when organs are mentioned in TCM, they do not refer to the western understanding of a physical organ and its functions. In TCM an 'organ' refers to a combination of physical, psychological, pathological and energetic functions that have been observed to be associated with the organ in question.


According to TCM, a great deal of illnesses, pains and aches are caused by a simple deficiency of a specific energy in specific region of the energetic anatomy. By re-energising the depleted energetic aspect, balance and greater health can be achieved. 

At this point the products of The-Qi-Store provide a methodology by which you can regenerate the deficient energy quickly and efficiently. The segments below provide information that can help you understand and identify the most common forms of energy deficiencies. Coming products will be focusing on purging excesses, another important reason for aches, pains and illnesses.

It is important to note that adding qi to the body may cause the internal energies to move. Sometimes this might result in a sudden release of emotions, similar as what might happen when doing yoga-asanas or breathing exercises. If a person is going through a difficult time psychologically or doing intense intense spiritual practice, it is best to consult a doctor/therapist/healer/teacher before doing any energetic practice, such as meditation, yoga, qi-gong, or before using any energising products in an unassisted way. If a person is suffering from an illness or disease of any kind it is recommend you see your doctor before doing any further spiritual, energetic or physical training, including using The-Qi-Store products. 


According to traditional Chinese philosophy the manifest universe is one of polarities. The concept of Yin and Yang represents the equilibrium of this dual or polar existence. There is no left without right, no up without down, no in without out, no day without night. If one aspect disappears the other cannot exist. In all things nature strives to maintain a balance between the two.

Nothing is Yin or Yang as such. Something is Yin or Yang in relation to the object or concept that it is being juxtaposed with. 

Yin represents the aspects that are inward, nurturing, receptive, feminine, soft, dark, cooling and rooted in their nature.

The Yang aspect is expansive, active, hot, hard, luminous, creative, ethereal and masculine.

The two aspects together are the manifest universe. Yin and Yang are mutually dependent opposites that are omnipresent in all layers of manifest reality, including matter. When one or the other aspect begins to dominate there will be an imbalance.


In many cultures and philosophical systems around the world, the conceptual description of the material world has historically included a division into 5 elements, the symbolic building blocks. The five elements in TCM are Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood.

As human beings, traditionally, our most accessible understanding of life has come from what we were able perceive with our 5 senses in our immediate environment. In the past the most relatable environment was the natural world. The terminology used in TCM to describe the internal conditions of the organs and tissues is the same as for describing external conditions in nature. Thousands of years of observation have given form to a vocabulary in which the external environment is reflected in the description of internal conditions and manifestations. Words such as wind, heat, dampness etc. all have a specific meaning as relating to the health of an individual.

In the Theory of Five elements, each element (fire, earth, metal, water, wood) contains within it a pair of organs that work together, each with specific functions but completing each other - the yin and the yang. Once again it is important to point out that  when an 'organ' is referred to in TCM it is does not mean an organ as understood in western medicine.  In TCM an 'organ' refers to a combination of physical, psychological, pathological and energetic functions that relate to the characteristics of the ELEMENT that they are associated with.  

For example, the liver and gallbladder are the yin and yang organs of the wood element. They are separate organs that work on different aspects of the same functions together.  Both have characteristics that have been described as relating to the characteristics of wood. If you look at nature, trees (wood) tend to root themselves, they grow dynamically, they come alive in the springtime, their color is generally green etc. All these characteristics describe the nature of the liver and gallbladder functions on a physical, energetic and even spiritual levels.  

All the elements are connected in a manner in which they nurture and, on the opposite hand, control each other. Understanding how they are connected and how the elements influence each other is the key to logically deducing the location of an imbalance. Each element controls specific psychological, emotional, energetic and physical physical functions. Knowing these and understanding the connection between the elements allows for the locating and balancing of an energetic disturbance, that can lead to an illness or has already manifest itself as an illness in the physical body.

For instance, the organs of the metal element (the lungs -yin- and large Intestine -Yang-) will act on each other directly, but will also influence the elements that the metal-element nurtures and on the other hand controls. If there is a deficiency, excess or blockage in the metal-element, then the water element (kidneys/bladder), whose functions are nurtured by 'metal', will likely have an imbalance after some time. The disturbance may also take place in the wood-element (liver/gall bladder), whose functions are controlled and kept in line by the metal-element. The image below illustrates the basic nourishment (sheng cycle) and control (ke) relationships of the 5 elements - fire (red), earth (yellow), metal (silver), water (blue/black), wood (green). The elements and their interconnections, once understood and mastered, form the basis of qigong and TCM practice. 




The fire element is associated to the Heart (Yin) and Small intestine (Yang) as well as the Pericardium (Yin) and San Jiao (Yang). It is the only element with two pairs of organs associated to it. Just like a fire is red and hot, warms us, and makes us perspire in excess, so does the heart in our bodies create similar circumstances.

The heart's functions include the circulation of blood and heat in the body. The heart energies control the blood, as well as the veins and arteries. The heart energies are greatly responsible for mental activity, memory functions, laughter, creativity and sleep. Speech and outward expression are also closely related to the heart. Listening to the tone of voice, volume, speed, content and charisma of the speaker will reveal important information about the state of this organ. The secretion related to the heart is sweat.

In TCM each organ is also related other aspects that have been observed to reveal information about the organ's workings. The taste associated to the fire element is bitter/ burnt, the colour is red, and the emotion is happiness. So, for instance, if a person has a bitter taste in their mouth, there is probably good reason to investigate the organs of the fire element. If a person is strongly drawn to wearing red clothes or is very red in the face, then then the colour can provide a clue as to where there may be an imbalance. The same is true if a person is laughing out of control or never joyous at all.

The heart's associated yang organ is the small intestine. They are intimately connected.  If the heart is having a problem then it will likely soon manifest in the small intestine. This close relationship also means that one organ can be treated through the other. The functions of the small intestine are to receive the contents of the stomach and to separate the contents into clear and turbid liquids for absorption.

The second pair related to the fire-element is the pericardium and san jiao. They could be described more as functions, rather than physical organs. The pericardium provides protection and a buffer to the heart and plays an important role in our ability to relate to others.

San Jiao means ‘the three burners'. The topmost burner corresponds to the organs in the thorax above the diaphragm, which is to say those concerned with breathing. The middle burner corresponds to the organs in the region above the stomach, that is those concerned with digestion. The lower burner corresponds to the organs lower down in the abdomen, those belonging to the urogenital and gynaecological systems. If the san jiao is functioning well, all these organs work well together. The san jiao is understood as vitally important in the process that allows optimal transportation of fluids in the body.


The earth nurtures us and provides us with the form, structure and support that make life on this earth possible.

The earth-element is associated with the spleen (Yin) and the stomach (Yang). The Stomach digests the ingested food, whereas the spleen's major functions are the absorption, transformation and transportation of the energy taken from food. The Spleen nourishes the body's muscle tissue and maintains the integrity and structure of the blood vessels. The spleen plays an important role in the creation of blood and its mobilisation. Whereas the heart is the major organ in internal circulation in TCM, the spleen is the major organ to supply blood flow to the upper body extremities, such as the hands and eyelids. If one suffers from cold hands (not cold feet) then there will probably be an energetic insufficiency in the spleen.

The earth-element is associated with the yellow colour, the taste of sweetness, and the secretion related to it is the saliva. If a person feels excessively worried often, then one can assume that the spleen/stomach energies are not in balance. The spleen/stomach expresses itself outward through the lips and mouth and any problems with this area can be earth-element related.


Metals are forged from the earth and are hard and rigid. A metal sword will chop off the head of an enemy, just as a metal gate can keep out the intruder.

The Metal element includes the lungs (yin) and the large intestine (yang). The lungs are the centre of the respiratory process, but from the TCM perspective they play a key role in the defensive and immunological process of the body. The lungs nurture and protect the skin and the hair on the head as well as body hair. Dry hair or skin is  a sign of an imbalance in the lungs or small intestine. The lungs also control the pores of the skin, so if someone is sweating for no reason (lack of functionality in opening and closing the pores), it is possible that the lung's qi levels are deficient.

The colour that relates to the lungs is white or silver. The nose is the element's opening to the outside world and the secretion related to the element is mucus. The taste that is associated is pungent. The emotional component that is stored in the lungs is grief and sadness, so someone who is chronically feeling sad could  probably benefit greatly from purging and re-energising the lung energies.


Water is the most yin in nature of the five elements. Its motion is downward and inward, and its energy is stillness and conserving.

The kidneys (yin) and urinary bladder (yang) are represented by the water element. In TCM, the kidneys are where the vital essence of a person is stored. They are the power source of the body, and all other organs when depleted, will turn to the kidneys for energy. The kidneys direct the growth of the body, development, the ageing process, as well as reproduction. The kidneys are in charge of metabolic processes as well as the elimination of water from the body. They are also directly related for the creation and nurturing of bone marrow and spinal and cerebral fluids. Memory problems and illnesses related to memory functions are often related to a depletion of kidney energies. 

In TCM, the urinary bladder has  a wider sphere of activity than in Western medicine. It stores and secretes urine but also has role in the transformation of fluids necessary for the production of urine.

The colour associated with the water element is black or dark blue. The ears are considered the orifices of the kidneys and the taste connected to the kidneys is salty. The kidneys play an important role in nurturing the hair on the head. The emotion stored in the kidneys is fear. If someone feels an irrational fear that pops up suddenly, then there is reason to take a closer look at the kidney energies.


An analogy commonly used when thinking of the wood element is that of bamboo. Bamboo grows quickly with great vitality, is hard and can be used in construction or as a weapon, but it also flexible and bends in storms without breaking.

The wood element is associated to the liver (yin) and gall bladder (yang) organs. The liver is in charge of storing blood, as well as distributing  blood, energy and fluids  to the organs as required. The liver controls and nourished the tendons and manifests outwardly in the eyes. The body fluid related to the liver are our tears. This is why when someone suffers from a sudden weakening of eyesight, dry eyes or spontaneous tears, some kind of liver imbalance will probably be present. In TCM the doctor will often look at the nails of a patient, as these will also indicate liver disharmonies if present. 

The gallbladder stores and releases bile and is thus a central factor in the digestive process. Often, if there is a liver/gallbladder disharmony, the stomach and spleen will be affected. The gallbladder plays an important psychological role as it controls the decision-making capability and helps in planning. The gallbladder is also said to give a person courage and initiative to act decisively and to make changes. Becoming easily discouraged, indecisive or timid can often point to a gallbladder deficiency.

The emotional aspect of the wood element is the feeling of anger and frustration. Anyone with a tendency to lose their temper easily will most likely be have some aspect of the wood element in disharmony.


The more you integrate the theory of the five elements and other deeper aspects of qigong and TCM, the more useful the products in The-Qi-Store will become. As you learn to intellectually conclude and intuitively know your own energetic system, you will be able to be more precise in deciding which product will benefit you.

Here are some websites and youtube pages that contain relevant reading: