Shaolin Master Qi Gong
Shaolin Master Qi Gong

General Practice NOTES - PLEASE Read before attending your first class                                                                                    

Please read up on the following practice notes - this is key practice and posture information for all who are practicing Shaolin Master Qi Gong.




 When attending class for the first time please arrive at least 30 minutes early - that will allow us time to instruct on some of the finer points of the class not included here in the general practice notes.  We do not generally talk or instruct a great deal during the class. We arrive at approximately 4:30 pm and are immediately available to give instruction and answer questions, this time can also be utilized to stretch and meditate.



Practice Tips for Everyone: 

During your Qi Gong practice (and during meditation) it is suggested you do the following for maximum benefit:

Tongue Placement 
Your jaw should be either very softly shut and relaxed or slightly open. The tip of your tongue should be touching the upper palate of your mouth just behind the front teeth. The optimal position of your tongue is almost but not quite touching the front teeth - (however do not worry if it is touching slightly and on this note "worrying" is worse than being slightly less than perfect - you will get better over time - so do not worry). 

The reason behind this important practice tip: 

We all have an energy circuit that encircles our torso from front to back - it is known here in the West as the Microcosmic Orbit. This circuit consists of two meridians, the Du Meridian and the Ren Meridian. 
The Du Meridian starts at the perineum (the area between the anus and the scrotum in males and between the anus and vulva in females) and goes up the back, over the head, and down to the upper palate of the mouth.
The Ren Meridian goes from the tongue down through the throat, chest, and abdomen to the perineum. 
By touching the tongue to the upper palate as suggested, these two important meridians (also known as extraordinary vessels) are connected.

  • Breath & Breathing

Some of you from Eastern meditation traditions including Zen and Yoga are familiar with "belly breathing", where you imagine you are breathing into your belly area. In Qi Gong, you imagine you are breathing into the Lower Dan Tien (LDT). The LDT is an energy center located below your navel about three finger widths down and two finger widths in. Over time you will no longer need to imagine this center because you will definitely feel it. 
The LDT stores Qi (vitality/life force).
The literal meaning of "dan tien" also spelled: dantien, dan t'ian, or tan t'ien is - cinnabar or red field and it is commonly referred to in the West as "energy center", also "elixir field" and "the sea of qi".
There are three Dan Tiens: the lower (LDT), the middle (MDT), and the upper (UDT).  All of them are energetic storage mechanisms. 

  • The Lower Dan Tien (LDT) is also known as the "golden stove" and it is where, in the practice of Qi Gong, the refining and purifying essence (jing) is transformed into vitality (qi). Qi is stored in the LDT.                                         
  • The Middle Dan Tien (MDT) is located at the level of the heart. This center or cauldron is where Qi/Vitality is refined into Shen/Spirit. It is associated with storing Shen (spirit) and is related to respiration and the health of the internal organs including the thymus gland.
  • The Upper Dan Tien (UDT) is located in the center of the head. This center is where Shen (spirit) is refined into Wu Wei (emptiness).

The Lower Dan Tien is sometimes referred to simply as the "dan tien" and it is often described to be "like the root of the tree of life", it is considered the center of gravity of the human body and is the seat of one's internal energy (Qi).

When you breathe in, imagine that you are breathing into the LDT: breathe into the lower part of your lungs while imagining the energy of the breath to be going into the LDT.   Then continue to fill up the upper lungs as desired for the movement.  As you breathe out, breath out in reverse from the upper lungs down. Do not lock the breath: when you breathe in as you reach capacity do not lock off the air passage. When you breathe out do not lock off the air passage upon exhale.  

As you progress you will increase your lung capacities, increasing the amount of time you can hold an inhale or an exhale, and - it is very important to note - you will also learn timing. Do not worry about matching the teacher "perfectly", you will need to move your breath at times when the teacher does not and this is expected. Simply try to push yourself within a comfort zone that you are comfortable with - (this is your practice).

Regarding timing as noted above: you will find that at times you are moving along in a relatively simple exercise and you are breathing shallow with no problem. In the next movement, you may be doing something that is for you quite difficult and you do not have enough air. During simple movements remember to take in plenty of air, get the oxygen into your bloodstream, and when you come to the more difficult moves you will have more reserve oxygen. 

Also, on some of the exercises where you twist, breath-in at the start of the movement and not slowly as you twist. This is for two reasons: properly done, you will already have a full breath in the first 1/4 of the twisting movement so that as you twist the inner air is both compressed and pushing outward (stretching you from the inside).  Also, if you do not take in the breath at the very beginning of the movement, the twisting will greatly reduce the amount of breath you can take in and so it will greatly affect the time you can hold/carry your breath.

When you are in a movement where you are doing simple expansion and contractions - such as when you have your hands extended one toward the sky and the other to the ground - notice what you do as you inhale when they come together and as you exhale as they are pushed apart - it is common not to inhale as much and as long as when you exhale - this leaves you short of breath. Slow down a bit on the inhale and really fill yourself comfortably and keep it for as long as you keep your exhale. In other words, if your exhale is 15 seconds, your inhale should be 15 seconds.

On a sort of side note to breathing is the issue of food and drink prior to practice:

Food and drink prior to practice can definitely affect how well you are able to practice. A small amount of each should be no problem and may help your overall energy and awareness. A large amount of either will make a number of movements difficult to do and will very clearly affect your ability to breathe deeply and hold positions comfortably. Also, note that some foods even in small amounts will cause bloating - so avoid these foods entirely prior to practice.

Shoes - footwear - clothing

Footwear should have flat soles - (not a raised heel).
Qi Gong will help your posture and your entire physical and subtle energetic systems - it is best to practice with your feet in a flat natural position - this will affect the results of the entire course of exercises you are doing. It is better to practice in socks than in a raised heel shoe of any type. 

Some rubber soles are very tacky/sticky and this can also be troublesome for the knees, ankles, and certain movements in particular - and this can be a big problem on certain clean surfaces where the shoes practically stick in place - (such as on a freshly waxed gym floor or clean linoleum). Bare feet can also be sticky on these floors so socks are a better option or a flat sole that is not too tacky/sticky.

Clothing should be comfortable and not restricting in the waist. It should not be distracting - meaning that it should not be a shirt that moves up on you and needs constant adjustment or a pair of pants that are too tight or ones that are threatening to fall to your knees. It is also preferable to have natural fabrics - the subtle energetic systems are affected by fabric.

Regarding worrying

Do not worry if you "are doing it right".  With more and more practice it will become obvious where you need to work and you will be constantly improving. If you cannot bend over without bending your knees for example, then bend your knees - and do not be concerned about this at all!  If you need to take an extra breath or two or three - do not be concerned about this at all!  What is far more important than "perfection" is your inner calm and attentiveness to the energies as they unfold into your awareness. 

Regarding "warm-up"

Here in the West we often look upon "warm-up" exercises as not really being necessary or important. For many sports particularly non-professional sports this is somewhat true if we ease into them. 
This is not actually true for Qi Gong. During the "warm-up" exercises we are not just moving our muscles and stretching - we are also "rooting" with our feet and legs ("grounding" is a term used in the West) - we are bringing the participation of earth energies into our space. 

In the "warm-up," we are also moving our arms and bringing the participation of "heavenly" energies ("cosmic energy" is a term used in the West) into our space.

Other "warm-up" exercises integrate these energies and very much affect our balance - our ability to balance ourselves - such as standing on one foot.

Finally, the "warm-up" exercises help us to settle into stillness and awareness within, prior to the more specific movements. This time is also when the teacher has designated as the starting point and it is traditionally regarded as the time to start and not later. In some areas of the world - if you are going to be late you are not welcome to attend - this is not the case here but it would be helpful for you and it shows your respect to others and to the teacher so please try to be on time or early. 

(If in fact you must be late - and even if you must always be late - please come late and do not at all worry about it.  But if you are constantly late and you could be constantly on time, then please make the effort to adjust your timing and arrive early or on time).

"Warm-up" exercises in Qi Gong are really much more than just a bit of movement before the "real stuff" - they are part of the "real stuff".




 When attending class for the first time please arrive at least 30 minutes early - that will allow us time to instruct on some of the finer points of the class not included here in the general practice notes.  We do not generally talk or instruct a great deal during the class. We arrive at approximately 4:30 pm and are immediately available to give instruction and answer questions, this time can also be utilized to stretch and meditate.



Final notes

The earliest forms of Qi Gong were taught as a high spiritual practice and for the greater part of their existence (some 4,000 years) a great portion of the teaching was secretive and passed on only by oral and pictorial transmission from master to student. The Qi Gong you are studying here carries within it the potential for very high spiritual practice if this is of interest to you. Grand Master Shi Yong Yao carries the lineage of a teaching that encompasses not only great health benefits and the proper rooting for martial arts and energetic power, it is also a very high teaching for those pursuing self-cultivation and enlightenment. 

We want you to know that Shaolin Master Qi Gong is absolutely dedicated to remaining and maintaining a genuine teaching that is not "westernized" out of its base and away from its truth.  We are already developing retreats, workshops, and videos and we are working with and listening to students - just like you - who have ideas for further development of our newly formed non-profit. We invite your input and participation and thank you in advance for your donations.


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From Tom B. - student of our Berkeley classes for over 1 year and long time meditation student and cultivator:



"Qi Gong is available in a wide variety of styles and formats. As a student of Qi Gong, I am in no position to objectively say one is “true” and others are not.  That being said, some questions might be considered in making a selection.
(1) Is both breath and movement a part of the exercises?
(2) Are movement, stretching, and meditation all part of the practice?
(3) Is it taught by a true lineage holder?
The last question is somewhat subjective.  How do you tell? It depends a lot on the eye of the beholder.  But words like: “aptness”, *beauty”, “clarity”, “centeredness” come to mind.
In any case, the answers, for me, have been “yes” in every class.  I have been doing Qi Gong for about a year and a half.  I am a senior citizen but have been able to continue without difficulty.  I highly recommend both David Doyle and, of course, the founding master, Shi Yong Yao."


by Tom Batchelder



Awakening and Post Awakening

Shifu David Doyle

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As practice progresses the dan tiens will be felt, the channels will emerge into one's awareness and capabilities will expand on all fronts. At this point - how one dissipates one's energies - becomes more of the real practice.


I do not mean dissipate in the sense of retention - that is of little importance until it is and when it is it will be zero effort no matter how much you believe you are perhaps different in that area.


Dissipation of one's energies in futures and pasts and the general illusion/noise - the cause of all suffering - is the determining factor in how far your practice will take you.


Qi Gong is a practice of Self Realization - every bit as much as Real Yoga.

It can also be a practice simply for health or personal power.


Ones personal power will only progress to the extent that you might impress an audience or students - and it can become what anyone would call "incredible" and even "fantastical" - but far beyond identified personal power - lightyears beyond this - yet not necessarily noticeably so to others nearby - the expanded awareness in stillness (Awakened Abidance) allows for all possible powers.


These powers emerge within and in a Oneness with the All and everything. The hands are tremendous instruments for sending and receiving and are instrumental in helping us to confirm with certainty many things in the energy arts. And for personal power, they are engineering marvels.


As the abilities unfold and awareness expands and identification ebbs - hand " tricks " are replaced with far greater internal capacities.

The hands are still of great utility and the feet become as the hands as well - but the hands are well-practiced and energy is naturally felt and influenced with them.


The great pumping and hand movements in Qi Gong shows are of personal power - impressive and useful in martial arts - but nothing compared to a higher form and beyond form. Personal powers can include all forms of wizardry - 3rd eye capabilities - pretty much you name it. 


A never-ending intent to be released from ones identified "self" and residual proclivities of identified "self" if Awakening has occurred- is what must be within ones essence in all practice - in all of living.


Qi Gong is as True Yoga - it is a way of life - either are easily taken as aids in personal power and many will never see or know the difference. Many believe they are on the Great Pathless Path - but are instead on the path of higher personal powers - and those attainments hold them like sirens on an island of plenty.

By David Doyle 2018







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