Can I practice Qigong barefoot?
Many of you already know what I’m going to say about this, and still, I say it’s worth teasing out as it is probably the one of the most frequently asked questions in my classes. I like to answer some of these more particular questions in blog form as it gets rid of excess thought in our minds and allows for a deeper qigong state. Hey, if you’re not worrying about the details, then you can access the state of mental and physical relaxation needed to effectively tap energy from the Cosmos.
So, can you practice barefoot?
To quote one of my favorite Sifu answers from Grandmaster Wong Kiew-Kit, the answer is yes and no. Provided you’re inside and the area around you is safe for your feet, then yes, you absolutely may practice barefoot. If you’re outside, with feet on bare ground, then no. Shoes on before proceeding with practice. Why is this? The reasons are both practical and energetic.
Operating on the principle of ‘safety first’, we do not proceed with any aspect of our arts, be they combat or cultivation, without first determining the area around us is safe to do so. It’s hard to eliminate every risk on the ground that might cut a bare foot, so shoes on to avoid it altogether.
But that’s a practical reason. What about the energetic reasons? Remember that first and foremost, the Qigong we practice is called Cosmos Qigong, and one of its cornerstones is tapping energy from the Cosmos into our bodies to build and circulate. Energy from the cosmos is called Qing Qi (清氣) in Chinese, or Clear Qi in English, and it is just that: clean and clear in nature.
Contrast this with other styles of Qigong, some of which place an emphasis on building stability by rooting through the ground and letting the Earth Qi come up through our feet. We in Shaolin Wahnam believe this Qi is more impure compared to the Qing Qi of the Cosmos, and therefore discourage barefoot outdoor practice. From a Chinese medicine viewpoint, three major Yin meridians involved in longevity, digestion, and reproductive health begin in our feet before passing through our genitals and abdomen. Keeping our feet, and subsequently our meridians dry and warm helps ward off pathogens that work against this goal.
Mind you, this is certainly not a dig at other styles of Qigong, far from it. Different styles bring different approaches to the table, and this is an example of it. Naturally, I am biased, being part of my lineage, as anyone else would be being part of theirs.
Join me this fall for the first live (and streaming!) Qigong For Health and Vitality Course in over three years where you’ll learn everything you need to know for building a deep and effective Qigong practice while growing as a practitioner in a supportive community. Can’t wait to see you there.