6 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Products to Help You Sleep

Posted by Stephanee Owenby on Mon, Aug 24, 2020 @ 11:48 AM

6 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Products to Help You Sleep


  1. Over-the-counter herbal formulas Insomnia herbs_Mar 18 newsletter-1

There are several safe and effective over-the-counter traditional Chinese herbal formulas to help with insomnia, whether you have trouble with falling asleep, staying asleep, waking feeling unrested, or all of the above. AOMA clinician Nelson Song Luo mentioned the two formulas below in this great blog post; here's some more information!

Suan Zao Ren Tang

  • Nourishes Heart Shen and Liver Blood
  • Clears deficient heat and calms the Spirit; helps with stress, anxiety, and irritability
  • Can also help with restlessness, inability to or difficulty in falling asleep, palpitations, night sweats, dizziness, vertigo, thirst, and dry mouth and throat
  • Studies have shown its safety and effectiveness at helping patients with menopause-related insomnia

Gui Pi Wan

  • Nourishes Spleen Qi and Heart Blood
  • Tonified Blood and Qi
  • Helps with fatigue, insomnia, and poor sleep or dream disturbed sleep
  • Can also help with poor memory, heart palpitations, anxiety, phobias, low appetite, and night sweats
  1. Salt lamp Salt lamps_stock

Made from pink salt crystals native to the Himalayas, salt lamps are said to release negative ions, helping to cleanse dust particles from the air and boost energy levels. Some salt lamp users have even reported elevated mood, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, and reduced allergy and asthma symptoms. While no major studies have supported these claims, the warm pinkish glow of a salt lamp will make a welcoming and beautiful addition to your bedroom. Recent studies have shown that exposure to bright lights suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep, so the dim light of a salt lamp might even make you sleepy if used in place of brighter bedroom lights.

  1. Green tea Tea cup

Caffeine is a stimulant, and once consumed, it stays with you for longer than you might expect: it takes about 6 hours for just 1/2 of the caffeine you consumed to be eliminated! So the closer to bedtime you take in caffeine, the more likely you are to experience sleeplessness. Cutting out caffeine at least 6-7 hours before your bedtime would be best but may not always be possible! If you just CAN’T say no to a late-afternoon pick-me-up, try reaching for green tea instead of coffee to reduce the amount of caffeine you’re consuming. On average, one cup of green tea contains 35-70mg of caffeine as opposed to a cup of coffee, which contains 100mg of caffeine. Green tea is also high in antioxidants and polyphenols, and it contains catechin which can enhance immune system function. Green tea, or Lu Cha, is also a traditional Chinese medicine herb! It has cooling properties and works with the Heart, Lung, and Stomach meridians to reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar, and boost the metabolism. Bonus points if you drink your tea from a beautiful cup that puts a smile on your face!

  1. Meditation candles Candle_chakra

According to a study cited on Harvard Medical School’s blog, 6 weeks of regular meditation scored higher than 6 weeks of sleep education for improving insomnia, fatigue, and depression among adults who reported trouble sleeping. But meditation can often seem too difficult or downright unapproachable, especially for beginners. Concentration meditation can be an easy way to jump into meditation, as it only requires focusing your awareness on one specific thing; for example, a candle flame. Having a point of focus can help you quiet the mind and relax fully; try starting with a few minutes before bed and work your way up to 5, 10, and then 15-20 minutes a day.

  1. Spirit-Quieting massage oil Spirit Quieting massage oil

If your mind won’t stop racing long enough to allow you to sleep, Blue Poppy’s Spirit Quieting massage oil might be just what you need! It incorporates several traditional Chinese herbs formulated together to help to resolve depression and calm stress and anxiety of the mind and the emotions. It can be used as a relaxing massage oil for your whole body or as a pre-bedtime bath oil.

Functions of Specific TCM Herbs Used in Formula:

  • He Huan Hua (Flos Albiziae): courses the Liver, quickens the Blood and quiets the Spirit.
  • Bai He (Bulbus Lilii): nourishes and enriches the Heart, clears heat from the Heart and quiets the Spirit.
  • Shi Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii): opens the orifices, dispels phlegm, and quiets the Spirit.
  • Chen Xiang (Lignum Aquilariae): courses the Liver and moves the qi, reduces counterflow.
  • Yuan Zhi (Radix Polygalae): quiets the Heart and calms the Spirit, dispels phlegm and opens the orifices.
  • Sweet Orange oil is added as a fragrance, and also moves and harmonizes the qi.

Ingredients/functions source:

  1. Qi gong CD or DVD Qigong dvd

A recent UCLA study showed that a slow-moving meditation practice like tai chi or qi gong works just as well as talk therapy, and better than medication, at helping patients with insomnia. Qi gong is a whole-body exercise that integrates the breath with body movements. It is designed to loosen the joints, promote deep breathing, and relax the body. Body movements in tai chi and qi gong are used to aid the Qi in its journey along the acupuncture meridians, dissolve blockages that can lead to sickness and disease, and increase general energy level.

In case you’re asking yourself, “how the heck do I do qi gong?” AOMA’s amazing alumni Nicole and Jenna host a fantastic educational YouTube channel that will teach you! I highly recommend all of their content, but a good place to start would be the video series entitled… wait for it… “HOW THE HECK do I do Qigong?!” You can find Nicole and Jenna’s YouTube channel here.

AOMA Herbal Medicine also has a few great qi gong resources to support you in your practice. In Master Li’s “A Return to Oneness,” you will practice the qi gong of unconditional love to begin a journey of rediscovery, a journey back to your true home. “Where does one's true home lie? The saying 'home is where the heart is' does not mean only that one's affections lie where one's home is. Its deeper meaning is that the Heart is where the true home is.” (


Topics: stress relief, qigong, chinese herbs, insomnia, aoma, tcm

Qigong: Chinese Yoga as Mind Body Medicine

Posted by Charlton Holmes on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 @ 03:48 PM


Over the last 30 years, yoga has become increasingly popular in the United States. People do yoga exercises not only for the physical benefits but also the mental and emotional benefits as well. Yoga connects the mind and body through focus and balance. It's generally safe and most people can do it regardless of their fitness level. Yoga has been further popularized by the celebrities who practice it. Woody Harrelson, Jessica Biel, Ashley Tisdale and Madonna are among the list of celebrities that have been known to practice yoga.

There are about as many styles of yoga as there are flavors of ice cream. There’s hot yoga, Kundalini yoga, and even prenatal yoga, to name a few. There is even a style of yoga native to China. This Chinese yoga is qigong.

Qigong means “Life Energy Cultivation”. The people of China practiced qigong for over 4,000 years and it is an integral part of Chinese medicine as well as Chinese martial arts. According to tradition, daily practice of qigong prolongs life and improves vitality. Many illnesses can be treated, or avoided altogether with regular practice of qigong and the exercises are simple enough that most people can learn them regardless of their fitness level.

Qigong practice has three main components. These are sometimes referred to as the three regulations. The first is the regulation of breathing. By focusing on breathing, the practitioner of qigong begins to turn their gaze inward, letting go of external distractions. Deep slow breathing can slow the heart rate, producing a calming effect.

The second regulation is regulation of the mind. Regulating the breath helps to regulate the mind because it is a point of focus for the practitioner of qigong. This aspect of qigong is about focusing mental energy and blocking out distractions. The attention of the mind shifts to an area in the abdomen, near the umbilicus. This area is known as the lower dantian

The third regulation is the regulation of the body. This involves becoming more aware of the body. Wherever the muscles are tense - focus on relaxing them. Most people are not aware of the physical manifestations of stress that they carry around with them on a daily basis. Tense muscles can hinder the flow of qi and blood. Positioning yourself in a good posture and relaxing the body can improve your body's energy flow.

Some forms of qigong are more dynamic than others. Some use complex movements and postures, while others elicit perfect stillness. There are many varieties of Chinese yoga, or qigong. Yet, just as the differences in styles of yoga that originate in India, the benefits are all the same. 

*Qigong is taught as part of the curriculum of our Master's program at AOMA:

Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master's Program

Topics: qigong

3 Steps to any Qigong Practice

Posted by Gene Kuntz on Fri, Aug 07, 2015 @ 01:30 PM


Qigong is an ancient practice that stems from Taoist folk mysticism, literally translating to “life energy cultivation." Similar practices can be seen around the world in traditional folk communities spanning from the shamans of Peru to the aborigine in Australia. Qigong is simply one of the many paths used by humans to connect with themselves, others, and the divine. Qigong is essentially a ritual done through breath, movement and intention. Like any ritual, it necessitates and creates focus, clarity and has a process. At the very basic level this process has these three steps: clearing, cultivating and storing.  

  1. Clear

This step is like cleaning a dish before you begin to cook or emptying old stagnant water out of your fish bowl before adding new water. You don’t want to cultivate a bunch of energy and put it in a dirty vessel. When life's rough, shake like a dog to instantly feel the calming effects of clearing. Jostling, shaking, and trembling are all ways clearing resets the nervous system. This allows the mind and body to start from center, often literally shaking off the day. Use it as a way to clear your own energy after a class, business meeting, or any other time you may feel energetically slimed. Also great for the lymph system, bones and muscles!
  1. Cultivate

In short, all cultivation practices of qi gong and many energetic practices combine the 3 regulations: unifying the breath | intention | posture. When these three are combined, you are doing qigong. Through this centering practice one becomes likened to a battery that has just been put in a remote control, the practitioner is now in the optimal position to receive and transmit energy. From this stance the practitioner can move into other positions to circulate qi, creating different sensations while balancing specific systems. This process is known for its benefits: growing confidence, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, and building coordination are just a few of the myriad of benefits that are out there.


  1. Store

This can be the shortest aspect of the three part process and is essential to maintaining all of the energy that you created throughout your practice.  One master describes this concept in modern terms. He said, “doing qi gong without storing the energy is like creating a word document and forgetting to press the save button, so much work for nothing."  Always store the qi you cultivate, you worked hard for it, it only takes a few moments to do the minimum.  Storing allows you to maintain the cultivated qi, protect from leakage, and ground the body | mind | spirit. Longevity, Libido, Creativity, Healing, Creating Fire Balls with your hands? The Force is now strong with you, what will you do with it?


The principles of Qi (life energy) are innate in us all. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, it is easy to forget our divine nature and innate connection with heaven, earth and our fellow [wo]man. Qigong gives us an understanding of how this force moves in our bodies, with others, and our environment. Qigong is about connecting.  No matter what, remember to breath and you are connected.  Live long and qigong. Keep in mind these three concepts when creating your practice: Clear | Cultivate | Store.  

"The best practice is the one you do" -Unknown

For more information on qi gong, classes, workshops and local community events please see AOMA's Community Class Calendar

Qigong classes at AOMA


To learn more about Gene visit


Topics: qigong

Qigong: The Art of Staying Sane during Acupuncture School

Posted by Christina Korpik on Fri, May 15, 2015 @ 04:18 PM


When I first started acupuncture school at AOMA, qigong was just another required class on the academic docket. It was a mysterious movement therapy and meditative spiritual practice that I had heard about but had never tried myself and wasn’t particularly excited to learn, to be honest. Sure -- I was open-minded and amped up about anything that was a part of my beloved, brand spanking new venture into a healing arts education. I can’t, however, say that I came to AOMA knowing enough about qigong to be thrilled about beginning a regular practice of it. Sure, it was reputed to be incredibly stress-relieving and relaxing...but it was also more credits to be earned in an excruciatingly long four year long program. Little did I then realize how crucial qigong would eventually become to support- my well-being in grad school, and more notably, my sanity.

As aspiring professionals in the field of the healing arts, we as students sometimes forget how the medicine we are engaging with requires us to become caretakers, to consistently be placing our time, energy and resources into helping others feel stronger, healthier, better, more joyful and balanced. This makes it extra important for us to be on top of our own self-care and ensure we are, ourselves, exceptionally healthy, strong, balanced and joyful. Because if we don’t embody these qualities, how can we model them to others?

Unfortunately, massively busy schedules and expected graduate school stressors, including hours and hours of memorizing foreign material such as tedious locations of tiny, specific acupuncture points and long lists of unpronounceable herb names certainly are not conducive to keeping us calm, stress-free and balanced. In fact, I can say in full disclosure that I have seen many a student panic under pressure and nearly run in the opposite direction from the stressors of this graduate program (myself included, ahem).

However, all breakdowns aside, the end rewards of completing the program are without a doubt, worth every ounce of personal challenge. Despite the multi-dimensional benefits of the profound personal growth that seems to be a necessary side-dish of enrollment at AOMA, it’s true that we as students need to continually be seeking outlets that ground us, help us nourish ourselves, release stress and calm our minds enough that we can continually revisit the magic of studying this medicine thoroughly despite the chaotic challenges that may surface along the journey.

One of these outlets that I accidentally stumbled upon was qigong -- and to this day it has become one of my primary anchors through this program. Initially I experienced resistance to it, I’ll admit...mostly because at the beginning of the program, I was so exhausted from the intense mental workouts that left me feeling like I would rather skip this “mandatory” class and just sleep more. The self-sabotaging aspects of laziness and burnout crept up on me more than once, but then something happened one day in my qigong class: I relaxed into what I was doing, pushed past the resistance and allowed for moving of the energy in my body in ways which felt incredibly healing and not the least bit tiring. I left the class feeling massively energized and WAY loosened up. Liver qi stagnation, be gone! I had renewed vigor and excitement for being in my academic classes and learning (aka, memorizing away until my brain exploded), my body felt stronger and healthier, and I felt noticeably more FULL: full of vibrant life force energy and more capable of caring for my clients from that place instead of from the droopy place of total burnout.

So that’s what truly sold me -- it wasn’t the proclaimed or advertised benefits of the practice, it was the undeniable personal experience with this ancient art that led to me being able to maximize and master my own energy in a myriad of ways, subsequently allowing me to be a better, more grounded, embodied (and mentally stable!) practitioner for my patients (and, simply put, a better person in general). Qigong helps me calm my nerves and emotions, it helps break apart any stagnation that accumulates from hours of sitting in cold classrooms, it allows me to tap into the qi from nature and the Universe in powerful ways which feed me and refill the places that get drained consistently from being a student and a busy, active woman with many a ball to juggle. It helps me come back into and connect to MYSELF: and this is a crucial task for anyone that is holding space for others on a daily basis, or learning to step into that role in their lives.

Not convinced or feeling the magic yet? Maybe you just need to find the right qigong form that is a good match for YOUR body and your needs, and there are so many of them that you won’t find a shortage of options to choose from. We learn a limited selection here at AOMA, but I have gone on to find some incredibly potent forms outside of what we are taught in the dojo that have become absolute necessities in my daily self-care regimens. And sure -- there are still some days where I am too tired to do much of anything, and that’s okay too. However, when I push past the hesitation and the excuses my mind feeds me and spend even 10 to 15 minutes in moving meditation, I absolutely never regret doing so.

One helpful resource to check out is the Qigong Institute:

Here is the list of AOMA’s qigong community classes in Austin,TX, for students interested in juicing up their practices outside of class requirements:

To learn more about our Master's program here at AOMA, download the overview below:

Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master's Program

Topics: qigong, acupuncture students

Integrative Medicine Videos: Acupuncture, Qigong, and Meditation

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 @ 02:38 PM

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health produces videos about the research on complementary health approaches. The three videos presented here explain some of the most popular integrative medicine practices: acupuncture, qigong, and meditation.

What happens during an Acupuncture session?

This video narrates the basic historical and theoretical background of acupuncture while also giving a step by step guide on what to expect during an acupuncture treatment such as possible physical sensations, different acupuncture techniques, and the importance of finding a qualified practitioner.



This video explains how the practice of Qigong can enhance the flow of energy in the body through movement, meditation, and regulation of breathing; and in turn, how it can benefit your daily life.


This video shows the practice of meditation and how it can result in a state of greater calmness, physical relaxation, and psychological balance.

Introduction to Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine





Topics: acupuncture research, qigong, integrative medicine, meditation

Alumni Success: Cat Calhoun, Class of 2011

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Thu, Aug 01, 2013 @ 01:18 PM

cat calhoun acupunctureCat Calhoun is the first in her family to go to college and the only one thus far to receive a master’s degree. Before she came to AOMA she was a Senior Network Administrator for the city of Austin. Cat was involved in several car wrecks that damaged her neck. She found an acupuncturist who not only fixed her neck, but also cured her recurrent tension headaches. When her job shifted to more desk work and less face-to-face interactions with clients she decided to do some soul-searching and change careers. She researched and visited many acupuncture schools and found that AOMA was one of the best schools in the country. She says “we have some truly world class professors, both in knowledge and spirit. They are the power and the gems of the school.”


While in school Cat became known for her giving, communal spirit that is always ready to offer encouragement to her fellow students. She became famous at AOMA for her donation based website called The website started when a fellow classmate missed a couple of classes and asked Cat to take notes for her. Her notes were so detailed that other classmates wanted copies. She decided to put them on the web to share them with anyone who wanted another perspective on the information presented in class at AOMA. This website is now being viewed by people from all around the world. Cat says, “I’ve gotten appreciation e-mails from TCM practitioners and students in the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, Thailand, and most recently from Israel.” She has done a fantastic job organizing complex ideas and putting them into accessible charts for current students to study.


Cat graduated from AOMA in Summer 2011 and is already well on the way to becoming a successful business owner and practitioner. Although she has done most of the “normal” things graduates do once they leave school to become business owners, her philosophy is starkly different than most. Cat’s approach to building her patient base starts with building community. She is drawn to “communal style acupuncture” and has always been open and willing to help anyone who crosses her path. Her first piece of advice to new graduates is to remember “there are going to be rough spots you will hit and you will live through them. Get serious about a meditative practice like yoga, tai chi, qigong, transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation. You’re going to need it!”


Cat has continued this philosophy of building community by moving her practice into her own zip code. She thinks “our culture suffers from lack of ‘neighborhood’ and connection. I want to work in my own community, helping people to find healing and connection.” In the next five to ten years Cat desires to start a residency program for students that are newly graduated. “I want to build a clinic with a ‘neighborhood’ of acupuncture specialists in different fields who are willing to take on a new graduate protégé, teach them our business model and help them get on their acupuncture feet before we send them out into the world.” She currently gives students discounted acupuncture rates to both keep them in her life and share what she has learned with them on her path. She is also currently offering Reiki and herbs to treat a variety of health concerns, but focuses on insomnia, anxiety, depression, stress, gynecological, hormonal imbalances, and pain relief. She says, “I want to make acupuncture as accessible to as many people as possible while still giving a quality treatment in a safe private space.” Visit Cat's website.

Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master's Program

Topics: alumni, alumni spotlight, community acupuncture, qigong

World Tai Chi and Qigong Day – Day of Healing Qi

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 @ 08:35 AM

Every year on the last Saturday of April, tens of thousands of people in more than 70 countries come together, to practice tai chi and qigong and to provide a healing vision for our world. World Tai Chi & Qigong Day is Saturday, April 27 at 10am, in every time zone, creating a wave of healing qi (energy) around the world. Please see the location update below. Check out the Facebook page for World Tai Chi & Qigong Day in Central Texas to find out about the official Austin gathering.

AOMA and Sheng Zhen Austin are co-sponsoring a free Qi “Tasting” in the afternoon from 2-5pm. Find out more details here. This event is suitable for all ages and abilities. Participants may come and go or stay from the entire program. Here’s the schedule of events.

2:00pm Welcome and Openinghealing qigong

2:15pm Practice movements from Heaven Nature Gong

2:45 pm Learn the form Awakening the Soul Gong

3:15 pm Practice movements from Return to Spring

3:45 pm Practice movements from Sheng Zhen Healing Gong

4:15 Master Li Junfeng will discuss Sheng Zhen philosophy


What is Qigong?

Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care system practiced for health maintenance, healing and increasing vitality. It is practiced through an integration of physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intention.

what is qigongThe word Qigong (chi kung or chi gung) is made up of two Chinese words. Qi (pronounced chee) is usually translated to mean the life force or vital-energy that flows through all things in the universe. The second word, Gong (pronounced gung) means work or cultivation. Together, Qigong means life energy cultivation.

Widely practiced in Asia, qigong has recently become popular in the West as an approach to overall health and well-being. Practicing qigong induces a relaxation response that can positively impact your body’s natural healing ability and increase your sense of balance in our stressful society.

Visit the National Qigong Association website for more resources about qigong.

yang style tai chiWhat is Tai Chi?

T'ai chi ch'uan or Taijiquan, often shortened to t'ai chi, taiji or tai chi in English usage, is an internal Chinese martial art originally practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits. Today, it is primarily practiced to maintain good health, both physical and mental. Tai Chi has been recommended as an adjunct therapy for chronic pain, arthritis, insomnia, asthma, high blood pressure, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and many psychosomatic illnesses.

Here are some recognized benefits of practicing tai chi and qigong:

  • reduces stress responses, lowering the incidence of anxiety, depression, fatigue, and general mood disturbance

  • minimizes the effects of chronic conditions such as allergies and asthma T'ai Chi improves breathing capacity

  • regular practice can lower high blood pressure

  • improves balance and coordination TWICE as effectively as other balance training

  • improves postural control, while stretching, toning and relaxing the body in a cumulative way that no other exercise can achieve

AOMA offers informal classes in taiji and qigong in south Austin. You can search for classes worldwide on the World Tai Chi Day website.

Learn more about Acupuncture  & Herbal Medicine

Topics: medical qigong, qigong, master li junfeng, tai chi

Energy Medicine: Medical Qigong and Reiki

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 @ 10:25 AM

I started studying energetic healing almost 20 years ago now. When I first began all of my learning was self-study and experimentation. I got great results on many occasions, but healing sessions always left me tired and in some cases exhausted. It took me a long time to realize this was not normal and that I was giving away my own personal Qi (energy or life force). I quit doing healing work after one particularly draining session that left me so exhausted I didn't recover for several weeks. I knew without being told that this was the wrong way to approach it and that I needed more hands-on guidance. 

When the student is ready the teachers appear.

Evidently it took me some time to be ready because the span between my last exhausting master li junfenghealing session and meeting my teachers was more than 10 years. I enrolled in the master’s program AOMA and started taking Master Li Junfeng's Medical Qigong 1 class. I have to be honest: I hated that first term learning Return to Spring Qigong. I whined, I complained, I griped about how this wasn't learning to heal and was a general pain in the butt for several months. I vowed I was never coming back to his classes, but something kept tugging at my heart and I knew I needed to sign up for Medical Qigong 2. 

I honestly believe Medical Qigong 2 saved my life. My mother-in-law came to live with us that term and she was gravely ill. It took several months to establish home care for her so during that time my girlfriend and I were watching her around the clock. I was extremely sleep deprived and my stress level was a 12 out of 10. Sitting down during that once per week 3-hour class to do the Heart Spirit as One Qigong form was the only time that was just mine and I treasured it. The meditations we did in class opened my heart and my eyes. I went on to Medical Qigong 3 and then audited all of the classes over again several times. 

At some point during the Medical Qigong classes I met Barbara Biro who invited me to her Reiki 1 class. I found that the Reiki principles were very similar to what I was learning in Medical Qigong and that the two reinforced and enhanced each other. 

Reiki versus Medical Qigong

Reiki ('rei' meaning universal and 'ki' which is the Japanese pronunciation of 'Qi') and Medical Qigong have the same root philosophies - the concept that the Qi which animates and enervates everything in this Universe can be directed through the practitioner in such a way that the Qi which flows to the patient can to effect a healing and balancing response in the patient’s body. Master Li emphasized that you let the Qi flow through you so that you are both a recipient of healing and a channel for it. Reiki teaches the same concept, highlighting the need to let Qi flow through the Crown chakra, into the heart and out through the minor chakras in the palms. This profound yet subtle tidbit of information was vital to my own progression as a provider of healing energy and was the piece I had been missing early on in my studies. This is also why it is vital to have a teacher to help you open your own channels so that the Qi of the Universe flows through you: there are things you just can't learn from publications or from the internet. 

The differences between the two are small in many ways and yet significant. 

Medical Qigong 

medical qigongMedical Qigong is one of the oldest branches of traditional Chinese medicine, predating acupuncture by thousands of years. Medical Qigong includes specific physical movements, breathing techniques, and mental imagery that direct the Qi within the body. Ultimately, the practitioner can control the Qi externally to heal others. In China medical qigong is used in hospitals to treat many ailments including tumors, cysts, paraplegia and hemiplegia, muscular atrophy, stress and insomnia, immune deficiency disorders, migraine headaches, and pain.

There are hundreds of forms of qigong and many ways to teach medical qigong, so let me say a few words about Master Li and my training. Before teaching qigong and medical qigong, Master Li was a world-renowned martial arts coach in China and the Philippines. After practicing and teaching wushu for many years he gave up his prestigious career to devote his time to teaching Sheng Zhen Wuji Yuan Gong, the qigong of unconditional love, around the world. So, to say the least, he brings a unique perspective to his teachings.

Master Li emphasizes the need to work on moving your own Qi for quite some time before you can even talk about moving someone else's. It was for this reason that he took us through Return to Spring Qigong in Medical Qigong 1: the physical movements help you learn to move the Qi of your own body. 

Medical Qigong 2 was 50% meditation and 50% subtle movement. This is the beginning of learning to move the Qi of your own body with the mind, heart, and intent. We learned Heart Spirit as One Qigong, which helped me learn to move the Qi with my heart and mind with smaller movements. I also learned stamina, how to expand the Qi in my body with my mind and intentions, and how to connect the Universal Qi. 

Medical Qigong 3 focused on Nine Turns, a form of Qigong that is all about moving the Qi with intent, directing it without moving a muscle. When you can control Qi in this manner with a quiet heart that reaches out to connect to the Universe, you are then ready to use this Universal Qi to help facilitate healing for someone else.


Reiki as compared to Medical Qigong is a strange blend of less stringent, yet more structured training. Reiki training is packaged to appeal to U.S. audience with little time and patience and has that “do it yourself” attitude in many cases. A Reiki Master, who has been through all 3 levels of Reiki, offers the training, often in 1-2 day classes then turns the new practitioners loose on the world. There is no intense training in meditation or in moving the Qi prior to beginning healing sessions and yet it is still a very effective form of healing even in the hands of a neophyte. That said, I see terrific benefits in Reiki.


Reiki has an initiation process called the attunements. The power of these attunements is unmistakable. Once you feel them you know something profound has happened to you even if you don't understand the full implications of them at the time. A Reiki Master gives four attunements during the course of a Reiki training level.

During an attunement the Reiki Master opens the initiate’s Crown chakra and embeds healing symbols into the energetic fields. These act like filters through which the Universal Ki flows during a healing session. I think of them sort of as a stencil or lens, which focuses the Universal Ki into a certain pattern which promotes healing for the recipient. 

Opening to Spirit

Another Reiki emphasis is that we are *instruments* of healing, but we are not the healers. We have no abilities to heal - our job is to be a good conduit for healing energy and to be available to Spirit. We are, before anything else, faithful servants to the Universal Ki. This is very similar to Medical Qigong and reaching to connect with the Universal Love. When you do this, you really can't go wrong. Qi is filtered through you on a one-way street. You never feel depleted because it isn’t your own Qi you are giving away. You are also in far less danger of feeling the effects of someone’s “bad energy” because Qi only flows one way – from the Universe to the practitioner then out from the practitioner to the patient. An additional benefit to this is that the practitioner also gets a dose of healing. I feel energized and balanced after I give a Reiki or Medical Qigong session for this reason.

Structured patterns for treatment

This is something I really appreciate about Reiki that I didn't get from Medical Qigong. Reiki offers the new practitioner very structured patterns to follow during a healing session. I used them very faithfully at first, then found, as I got more familiar with my own intuition that my healing sessions became much more free form. But that initial "safety blanket" was extremely comforting and gave me something solid to lean on until I was able to stand on my own. 


Master Li spoke of Masters such as Quan Yin, Lao Tsu, Jesus, Hanuman, and Mohammed coming to him to give him new forms of Qigong to bring to humanity. Dude gets the big guns for sure! Reiki speaks of meeting your own guides. During my Reiki training sessions I was taken through a guided meditation in which I met my non-corporeal Reiki Master to whom I still go for guidance. I was taught how to find this Master and how to approach “him” (“he” doesn’t really have a gender, but has a definite masculine energy). I met my Reiki guides as well, many of whom will rotate in and out of my healing sessions depending on the abilities and energies needed by my patient at that moment.

Reiki levels and symbols

There are distinct levels of Reiki. Reiki 1 emphasizes hands-on healing and requires light physical touch or very, very near proximity to the patient to send healing energy. Reiki 2 teaches practitioners the art of distance healing and greatly boosts the level of Qi that can be channeled by the practitioner. Reiki students in the 2nd level learn to use specific symbols to boost focus the flow of Qi and to send Reiki over distances great and small. Reiki 3 is the Master/Teacher level. Students at this level learn the attunement process as well as the Master symbol which is used to attune/initiate others into the various levels of Reiki.

Once the symbols are embedded in a practitioner’s energy field they are there for life (maybe longer since certain types of energy carry over from incarnation to incarnation), even if the recipient doesn’t use them for a very long time.


Reiki places a strong emphasis on gratitude for those who came before us – our energetic ancestors. Part of the Reiki training is learning and reciting the lineage as much as possible, thanking these ancestors for passing the gift of Reiki on to us. This has shaped my thinking about healing quite a lot. I begin each day by saying thank you to Mikio Usui Sensei, the man who brought Reiki to us, to Masters Hayashi, Takata, and Furomoto. I thank Barbara Biro for taking the time to teach me even when I was skeptical and rolling my eyes over the seemingly new agey-ness of it all. Over time I have found I was including Master Li, Dr. Yuxia Qiu, Dr. Qianzhi Wu, and Dr. Yan He (and most recently Dr. Mikio Sankey) who have taught me things about Qi and transmitting Qi that I could not have learned without them. My heart is filled with gratitude to my teachers every day and I send them healing and blessing often.

Doing this puts me in a terrific mood and has the side effect of making me a better practitioner and conduit for Universal Ki/Love. It’s a great Qi cleanser!


cat calhoun medical qigongAbout the author:

As the owner of Calhoun Acupuncture & Wellness in Austin, TX, Catherine Calhoun maintains an active clinical practice treating patients with conditions such as pain, allergies & respiratory infections, and substance addiction, as well as chronic disorders like arthritis, diabetes, neurological disorders, endocrine disorders, and cardio/circulatory disorders. A certified Usui Reiki practitioner and trainer, she also specializes in relaxation and meditation therapies such as reiki, medical qigong, and guided meditation. Ms. Calhoun is committed to implementing affordable healthcare options using oriental medicine and manages an on-site corporate wellness practice in addition to her private clinical practice. She is the owner and creator of and has instructed at AOMA since 2012.

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Topics: medical qigong, qigong, master li junfeng, reiki

Sheng Zhen Qigong with Master Li Junfeng

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 @ 10:59 AM

Master Li Junfeng is the founder and principal teacher of Sheng Zhen Wuji Yuan Gong, knownMaster Li Junfeng as the qigong of unconditional love. Master Li tours the US, Canada, Asia, and Europe throughout the year sharing his wisdom, his understanding, his love. He has taught in more than 20 countries and has been teaching medical qigong at AOMA since 2002.


In this video, Master Li Junfeng demonstrates the first qigong technique of this series, a movement that begins every Sheng Zhen Qigong practice. You can follow along at home. In addition to the physical fitness benefits of most exercise routines (improved circulation, weight loss, etc.) Sheng Zhen Qigong also offers mental and spiritual benefits such as stress relief, a calm mind, and an ability to handle stressful or painful situations.

Topics: medical qigong, qigong, master li junfeng

Qigong for Stress Relief [with Video]

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Thu, Mar 08, 2012 @ 01:23 PM

AOMA director of community relations,  Sarah Sires Bentley talks about qi (pronounced "chi") and the practice of qigong, specifically Sheng Zhen Qigong, and its benefits. In addition to the physical fitness benefits of most exercise routines (improved circulation, weight loss, etc.) Sheng Zhen Qigong also offers mental and spiritual benefits such as stress relief, a calm mind, and an ability to handle stressful or painful situations. Similar to meditation, yoga, or stillness techniques, qigong offers many benefits to the mind, body and spirit.

AOMA also offers this class and similar classes to the public in addition to its regular graduate coursework.

Download FREE Introduction to Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

Topics: self-care, stress relief, qigong

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