How to: Tan Tien Breathing Exercises

Man and women practicing Tai Chi

Qigong is an ancient Chinese healing method that was developed to augment or restore your vitality. The tan tien breathing techniques arose out of the belief that your qi or life force is directly tied to your breath, and the tan tien is the area on your body through which energy can enter. In its simplest terms, you breathe in health and vitality and breathe out negativity and all of the constrictors that are holding you back from living your best life. The tan tien or dan tien is divided into three sections -- the upper, middle and lower, but it is the lower tan tien around which all of the physical movements and breathing techniques were developed. It lies three finger-widths below your navel and is said to contain the original qi passed on to you by your parents at the time of your birth. Practice this tan tien cleansing breath to allow healing energy to enhance your life force.

Lie down on a comfortable surface or sit tall in a straight-backed chair. Locate your tan tien by placing the flat of one hand just under your navel. The tan tien is right around where your ring finger lies. After locating your tan tien point both of your hands downward. Make an upside-down triangle with your hands by bringing the tips of your thumbs and fingers together and then lay the triangle against your lower belly so it surrounds your tan tien.

Close your eyes and inhale slowly through your nose. Focus your attention on your lower tan tien and extend your belly as the air fills your lungs. Follow the path of the inhale with your minds-eye and imagine all of the areas of your body or life that need healing. Imagine that with each inhale you are drawing in healing energy.

Exhale slowly through your mouth and feel your lower belly contract. While you are exhaling, focus on releasing pent-up anxiety, negativity and any ills you may be suffering. Continue breathing in a slow and easy manner for several minutes until you feel relaxed and centered. Practice the tan tien cleansing breath every day.


Although Eastern healing techniques are becoming more common in North America, the one aspect that gives some people pause is the active connection between the body, mind and spirit when practicing some of these modalities. To get the greatest benefit out of the tan tien cleansing breath, set aside any hesitations you might have about imagining the formless force of healing energy and simply allow yourself to relax and enjoy the exercise. Your qi will benefit from the tranquility that comes from deep breathing alone.