6 Breathing Methods of Chi Kung (Hard Qigong & Soft Qigong)

Ⅰ Introduction of Chi Kung (Shaolin Kung Fu Qigong)


Chi Kung, also known as qigong, in traditional Chinese culture and traditional Chinese medicine, “Yuan Chi” plays a vital role in the transformation of the body’s body and mind, protecting people from disease. Chi(Qi) refers to the energy in the human body. Qigong involves a variety of cultivation contents, among which accumulating qi, moving qi, and moving qi are commonly used methods. Shaolin Qigong mainly includes two types: Neigong (soft Qigong) and Waigong (hard Qigong).


One of the fundamental aspects of practicing Qigong is the emphasis on breathing techniques, which are integral to harnessing and channeling this vital energy for health, martial arts, and spiritual development. In this article, we will show you 6 Qigong breathing methods.

6 Breathing Methods of Chi Kung


1. Natural Breathing

It can be divided into three forms: chest type, abdominal type and thoracoabdominal mixed type. It is more common for adult men to breathe abdominally; for women, it is more common for chest breathing; athletes, actors, and singers mostly breathe abdominally.

Those who are new to practicing Qigong generally use natural breathing. That is, based on the natural breathing you are used to, relax your body into silence, and then adjust your breathing to be soft, even and natural.

2. Inhale nose and exhale mouth

There are methods of inhaling through the mouth and exhaling through the nose, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the nose, and inhaling through the mouth and exhaling through the mouth. When practicing, the method of inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the nose or the method of inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth are often used. The method of inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the nose is mostly used in static exercises, while the method of inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth is mostly used in Tai Chi, Qigong, and walking exercises.

A few practitioners occasionally breathe through the mouth instead of the nose due to rhinitis, colds and other diseases, but the mouth should be slightly open. In addition, the methods of inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth and breathing through the mouth should not be advocated.

3. Breathe loudly

Exhale and inhale vigorously through the nose, or inhale vigorously through the nose, and exhale through the mouth. Each exhales and inhale are required to be as long as possible, and the breathing sound is also required to achieve “sounding in and out”. This method has a certain therapeutic effect on strengthening physical fitness, mobilizing Qi in the body, and treating certain chronic diseases. When learning and practicing this method, the sound should be increased from small to loud, and attention should be paid to exercising in a wilderness area with fresh air.

4. Regular breath

As the name suggests, regular breath focuses on cultivating a steady, even rhythm of inhalation and exhalation. Practitioners strive to maintain a consistent pace, neither rushing nor pausing between breaths. This method encourages a balanced flow of Qi throughout the body, fostering a sense of inner equilibrium and stability. Regular breath is particularly beneficial for calming the mind, reducing stress, and enhancing mental clarity.

5. Practice breathing

The ancients said that “everything that enters the air is yin, and the air that comes out is yang.” Therefore, “if the yang is weak, you cannot exhale, and if the yin is weak, you cannot inhale.” This means that when applying the exhalation practice or the inhalation practice, you must pay attention to the differentiation of yin and yang.

Generally speaking, practicing breathing is more suitable for people with high blood pressure, emphysema, glaucoma, headaches, bloating in the head, and chest and abdominal distension with upper and lower deficiency. Breathing training is more suitable for some people with poor gastrointestinal function and yang deficiency who are afraid of colds.

6. Abdominal Breathing

This is the most commonly used breathing method in Qigong pranayama. It is beneficial to the gathering, storage and mobilization of internal energy. Abdominal breathing is generally divided into natural abdominal breathing and deep and long abdominal breathing, with the latter transitioning from the former.

Deep and long abdominal breathing can be divided into two types: cis and reverse. When inhaling, the abdominal muscles relax, and as the diaphragm descends, the front abdominal wall gradually bulges; when exhaling, the abdominal muscles contract, the abdominal wall retracts or is slightly recessed, and the diaphragm also rises to its original level. This is cis. Abdominal breathing (physiologically called isovolumic breathing).

Reverse abdominal breathing (also known as volume-changing breathing) is the opposite. During inhalation, the abdominal muscles contract, causing the abdominal wall to retract into a concave shape. Additionally, the diaphragm contracts and descends towards the abdominal cavity, reducing its volume. During exhalation, the abdominal muscles relax, allowing the abdomen to expand, while the diaphragm rises, increasing the volume of the abdominal cavity. As a result, reverse abdominal breathing significantly affects the pressure on abdominal organs, making it beneficial for promoting the circulation of qi and blood, enhancing yang qi, and improving gastrointestinal function. It is suitable for individuals with visceral ptosis and gastrointestinal dysfunction. However, it should be used cautiously or avoided by elderly individuals, those who are frail, hypertensive patients, individuals with various heart conditions, and pregnant women. Additionally, reverse abdominal breathing is more challenging, and beginners should refrain from attempting it immediately.

Ⅲ Conclusion


The practice of Chi Kung offers a rich array of breathing methods that cater to different needs and goals, whether for physical health, martial arts training, or spiritual development. From the dynamic and powerful techniques of Hard Qigong to the gentle and meditative approaches of Soft Qigong, each breathing method plays a crucial role in harnessing and cultivating vital energy within the body. 

As a well-known martial arts academy in China, Xinglin Shaolin Kung Fu Academy provides you with various Shaolin Kung Fu learning. Masters of Authentic Lineage provides you with professional Qigong practice guidance. If you are interested in Chinese martial arts Shaolin Kung Fu, get a free quote today!

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