Jindao Qigong for Healing, Purifying, Manifesting

May 28, 2011

ROOTING - The Foundational Support of Qigong - May 29, 2011

The Goal in the art and science of Qigong is to BE Balanced as Efficiently and Effectively as possible. The Result is that your internal energy ("Jin" in Chinese) has Effortless Power.

In the study and practice of cultivating Qi and effortless internal power, one of the most important principles is the concept of rooting. Rooting is having perfect balance so that you can move efficiently and effectively, without disjointedness and without struggle. Rooting is one of the means that Qigong uses to transform your life from dis-ease into one of Joy and Gratitude.

You develop root by studying what the body must do in order to keep the weight's center balanced while moving slowly, eventually adding more and more speed. People lose root because they use the wrong part of the body to focus their strength. For example, when the shoulder moves first in an action, it is incorrect. One should use the lower body to drive the force. No matter how hard one attempts to be soft, they will never truly relax and have effortless power until the lower body drives the force.

In the article, "Rooting, the Secret of Getting Power from the Earth" by Gaofei Yan and James Cravens, explains what rooting is: "Rooting is the process of making a good connection to the ground in stances and during transitions. ... When we refer to rooting we are talking about rooting the legs (and thus the entire body) of the completed postures as well as the legs during the transitions as well. When we are trying to achieve rooting in Taijiquan [Qigong], we should visualize below the surface of the floor or ground... much like the roots of a tree. The "Bubbling Well" an acupoint called Yong Quan (KI-1) located on the bottom of the foot should be used as the point from which this imaginary root extends into the ground from which to draw strength. Rooting in Taijiquan [Qigong] will transfer from foot to foot, but never stays equally rooted on the right and the left. The weight should remain on the outer edges of the feet and remain a slight gripping feel with the toes, the ball of the foot, and the heel. Although the Yong Quan never touches the floor, you should still focus on this area as the root of each movement."

Yan explains how rooting effects your Qigong practice: "when one uses the lower body to drive the force, the root can be lost because the shoulder, as well as any other joint or part of the body may interrupt the transference of power. When there is tightness or loss of coordination between the various joints and parts of the body, root will be lost. The hip, leg, etc. must act as one! Many times things inside the body fight against each other. For example, if the inguinal crease (part where the legs connect to the torso) at the hips is tight, the flow of energy will be broken in the body, breaking the root. When one practices in this way, the tightness or lack of body unity can give one the tendency to get injured. Sometimes one locks a joint. The hips and shoulders are typical joints that students will lock which breaks the root. At the other extreme, the body can be too loose or limp which will also cause the root to be broken.

Other causes that disrupt a continuous root include psychological reasons. Being frightened suddenly is a common example of how one's energy will rise, taking away the potential power from the ground through rooting. Other emotions, such as anger, happiness, sadness, and being excited, can all play a role in losing root since they distract the mind from its focus. Finally, the reason for a lost root is often a combination of several postural problems. When one loses root, his movement or force cannot change directions and his body is segmented and not unitary. Internal power should be round and unitary, not linear and segmented. Roundness has the quality of
continuation and flow, while linear does not contain this quality and will cause the body to stop and start, producing a segmented non-unitary action."

When having root, the body moves as a whole unit. Continues Yan, "when one loses root, several factors are involved: the amount of tension in the muscles, the way in which the body connects and works together, and the ability to produce a powerful product in terms of projection. . . In order to have a proper root, movement should never go by arm alone but by the whole body. The weight is transferred by turning the body. . . Without lower body emphasis, there is no rooting. . . In Tai Ji Quan [and Qigong] one moves very slowly, balancing over the yong quan points in the bottom of both feet in order to find and control the center of the weight. This assures that the force can come from the ground and not be stopped inside the body. Furthermore, the front leg must also screw [in to the ground] and not be"loose" so that the whole body can contribute to power going out of the hand. The sensation is that the ground below moves in opposite directions due to this inward screwing with both legs. A loose front leg creates a large energy loss going out the front knee. In Tai ji we say that the front leg has no 'Peng Jing' [warding off energy]."

Further, says Yan, "In order to have root, certain things must be true about the body, the movement, the Qi (energy), and the mind:


1. The body should be straight. The body sinks and the head hangs as if suspended or pulled upward lightly from a string. This opposite stretch creates a straighter spine which then allows muscles to relax, giving more flexibility and movement to the body.

2. The waist must sink; sometimes one side may sink. This sinking has always been recognized as necessary in rooting.

3. Muscles on both sides at the inguinal crease should relax. If one does not relax, chi will not go down into the legs. This also aids in the process of straightening the lumbar curve in the back.

4. Two Huantiao (the points just behind the side hip bones) must be rolled back and out; these are also acupuncture points.

5. The distance between the upper inner thighs (dang) is the same width at the front of the inner thighs as at the back of the inner thighs. For example, if one assumes a toe-in hour glass stance, the distance at the rear of the inner thigh is greater than at the front. If one tucks the hip forward, the distance at the front of the inner thighs is greater than at the rear of the inner thighs. In Yang style Tai Ji they say they put the whole body on two legs, and the Chen style of Tai Ji explains this by saying it is like taking a seat or a sitting position while standing. The upper inner thighs should have a shape like an upside down letter "U" and not like an upside down letter "V."

6. The acupuncture point called the Huiyin or perineum, as well as the anus, is internally pulled upward. This keeps the small heavenly circulation or the chi unblocked.

7. The "Wei Lu" refers to keeping the lower back straight during the posture or movement.

8. The entire body through to the legs must screw inward which will open the inner thighs. The knee should not be inward, but should be lined up straight with the foot's direction so that the power from the ground will not be broken. One will actually feel an outer pressure on the outside knee as the legs screw inward toward the ground.

9. The acupuncture point "Wei Zhong," located on the leg behind the center of the knee should always be strong. The knee will have to be bent and not kinked inward in order for this to be right.

10. Toes should grip the ground and the yong quan points (located just below the ball of the foot but just on the toe half of the foot) in the bottom of the feet become empty, which contributes to all movement and stability. The yong quan points are also known as the "bubbling well."

Qi (energy)

The Qi in the body will flow properly when the three acupuncture points are lined up properly. These points are:

1. Bai hui - located on the crown point.

2. Hui yin - located between the genitals and the anus; this point should close and lift.

3. The intersection between the two yong quan points The intersection is somewhere between the feet depending on the posture.

These three points should all be lined up vertically. One cannot
overemphasize the need to relax. When the three points are lined up in a relaxed manner, the Zhong Qi (centered chi) gets larger. Chi is a difficult subject for those just beginning to study, and the concept of centered chi is difficult as well.


The mind and spirit must be strong in order to keep chi from rising, which will destroy the effort of rooting. The mind must be very centered and controlled. Many people practice Chan (Zen) exercises, or something similar, in order to accomplish this. This, of course, has a parallel in life since the mind must also be kept centered every day in order to handle all circumstances.

When practicing, one should use imagination so that one can image clouds or a river to create evenly flowing movement. One can go fast yet stay quiet. When traveling in an airplane, one feels very still even though the speed may be 500 m.p.h.. Enemies to the mind are anger, fear, and various other emotions and distractions. They raise the chi high in the body, making the body tight and again destroying the root.

All of these requirements to building root support each other and connect to each other in a complimentary fashion. After a long time you will understand the beautiful harmony of the requirements. The straight plumb line requirement causes the thigh to go in, but when one takes the two points in the hip out the knees move out opening the thighs up properly. Another example of harmony between the requirements is that when the legs are down and when one sinks, the practitioner can use the whole body as a unit."

Qigong (and Tai Ji Quan) sets up the root initially by standing in the Wu Ji posture. Wu Ji refers to absence of movement. From the Wu Ji comes the Tai Ji ('from nothingness comes everything'). In the Wu Ji posture, you can feel the three points in one line in order to feel the centered Qi. The weight should be centered over the yong quan points in the bottom of the foot. Rooting makes you feel centered, which has a calming effect as the Qi sinks down into the lower body. You feel like a Big Tree, part of nature, timeless and endless. This harmonious state allows your movements and perceptions to join and follow (give and receive) with your inner self, other people, and the environment you operate in. Finally, says Yan, "The Tao Teh Ching [Book of Changes] was written by Lao Tzu who described the way of the universe. This book told people how to control the world. Its conclusion was that you control the world by controlling yourself - that you have more control in this world if you simply learn to control your own self and balance." Thus, Rooting allows you to be fully aware of what things feel like in such a complete way that you are in direct communication with the reality of the moment. It puts you in the driver's seat.

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