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Introduction to Qi: What is it?

Updated: Jan 8

What is Qi?

Qi (pronounced chee) is the “vital energy” or “vital life force” within every person. Qi is all manifestations of energy, whether that is material or immaterial. Because it is energy, it is neither created nor destroyed, and is in continuous flux and transformation.

When talking about Qi, the concept of “yin and yang“ are used to understand the manifestations. Yin is Qi that is cold, passive, solid, heavy, descending, moist and dark, the physical side. Yang is Qi that is immaterial, hot, active, dry, rising, and aggressive. In the context of Chinese Medicine, the flow of Qi in the body is used to diagnose conditions. Illness occurs when there is either an excess or deficiency of Qi.


  • Structure

  • Night

  • Cold

  • Passive

  • Solid

  • Heavy

  • Moist

  • Dark

  • Earth

  • Moon

  • Slow

  • Humid

  • Ascending

  • Fluids

  • Calm

  • Death


  • Function

  • Day

  • Hot

  • Immaterial

  • Active

  • Rising

  • Aggressive

  • Sky

  • Sun

  • Fast

  • Dry

  • Descending

  • Energy

  • Expressive

  • Birth

Types of Qi


  • The most essential!

  • Inherited from your parents

  • Stored in the kidneys

  • Circulates through the organs, muscles, skin, and meridians

  • Power for all activities


  • Stored in the chest

  • Air combined with energy from the spleen and stomach

  • Moves outward and inward from breathing

  • Affects how loud the voice is


  • Derived from food

  • Circulates nutrition in the body

  • Circulates through blood vessels

  • Yin properties


  • Protects against illness

  • Protects against environment

  • Acts like the Immune system

  • Yang properties

Functions of Qi

What does Qi do?


  • Transports blood

  • Ascends, descends, exits, and enters the body

  • From one part of the body to another


  • Produces heat

  • Regulates body temperature

  • Deficiency: lower body temperature or cold hands and feet


  • Defends against environment and disease

  • Acts like the Immune System


  • Holds the organs in place

  • Prevents leaks

  • Stores fluids

  • Deficiency: hemorrhage, frequent urination, stomach or kidney prolapse


  • Transforms food into fuel

  • Sorts through what can be used and discarded

  • Produces warmth

Bird’s eye view of a field or garden that looks like the Yin and Yang symbol.


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