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Oct 3, 2011

Fire and Water- Qigong Essentials

In the practice of Qigong, beginning practitioners spend a large quantity of their time thinking about Yin and Yang, but often times do not think about Fire and Water, or Kan and Li respectively.  Yin, the female, dark, and solid energy and Yang the male, bright and intangible are both important concepts, but Kan and Li (Fire and Water) are of equal or greater importance.

Fire (Kan) is the expansive motivating “hot” characteristic within the body.  While it is important to have a certain amount of Fire, too much can lead to problems.  One of these is called “Energy Dispersion,” and manifests later in life.  An example is a body builder, who builds up a large quantity of Fire over the course of developing large muscles.  As this person ages, the Fire will burn out the person’s body, leading to muscle atrophy, inflammation, joint pain, and ill health.

Water (Li) is the characteristic of cooling, condensing and stillness within the body.   Just as in nature, the quality of the Water is as important as the quantity.  If the practitioner’s mind is clouded with excess thoughts or emotions, the quality of their water will be murky or turbid.  If there is too much Fire in the body, the practitioner’s Water will be burned off too quickly.  Too much Water can lead to lethargy, heaviness, and poor memory.

The Qigong practitioner should make it their goal to balance Kan and Li- decreasing the amount of Fire, and improving the *quality* of their Water.  A good analogy is a pot on a stove, filled with water.  The water should be brought to a nice simmer, not so hot the water all boils off, but not cool enough that the fire goes out.   By practicing the proper Qigong breathing methods, the practitioner can regulate their Kan and Li, and take their experience to the next level.

Dustin Bergman, L.Ac