What is Qi? (part 2)


Qi Flow

Acupuncturists believe that qi flows in channels. These channels run all over your body, from your head to your toes, down your arms, zigging and zagging, even entering the body and going through internal organs, skin, and muscle layers. There are many different kinds of channels. The most common channels we discuss are connected to body organs—these are called primary channels.

Most of the common acupuncture points we talk about are on primary channels. These channels are somehow directly connected to the primary organ they are named after. So for instance, Liver 3, a common point needled on the foot, is on the Liver channel, which at some point connects to the Liver organ. The Liver channel runs from your big toe, up the inside of your leg, through your Liver and chest, up through the throat, behind the eye, and finally emerges on top of the head. Qi flows through this channel all the time.

You can think of acupuncture channels as big rivers where qi flows. Acupuncturists can tap into this natural qi of your body by accessing it at points. Maybe think of points as ports or way stations along the river of a channel, where the river is more connected to other areas of the body, other channels, or where the current is strong and mutable. Points can open links to other channels, direct qi and blood to a certain area of the body, or just support the flow of qi and blood in a particular organ or channel pathway.

One of the problems that sometimes happens is that qi becomes stagnant. Acupuncturists call this qi stagnation, and it’s very common. Again, to use a river analogy, maybe something has created a dam, or the river is having trouble flowing through a rocky bed to get to the next river, or maybe too much water has evaporated and the river isn’t very strong anymore. All of these present possibilities in Chinese medicine, specifically, strong emotions can create stagnation, qi flow can become blocked when making the transition from one channel to the next, and if your body is depleted and you’ve lost a lot of qi and blood, you may need some help building qi and blood to help it flow smoothly again.

So How Do I Make Sure My Qi Flow is Strong and Not Stagnant?

There are many ways to keep your body strong and healthy, and you’re probably doing a lot of them already. Basic health practices, such as eating well, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep can really help your health. However, everyone has times when their health goes out of balance. Within yin there is always a little yang, and vice-versa, right? Acupuncturists can support you in a number of ways.

Frequently, we take a look at patient’s lifestyles and habits. Acupuncturists like to take a step back and look at the full picture of a person’s wellness. So we can talk to you about nutrition and diet, support healthy lifestyle choices, and even give you therapeutic exercises or Chinese massage to support muscular imbalances and weakness. Often we use needles and moxa to support your qi and blood flow in your body. Chinese herbs are also great for working internally. For instance, if you’ve been overworking or haven’t been taking care of your health, herbs are great at rebuilding and supporting your constitution and lifestyle.

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