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Qigong Practices

Qigong techniques are suitable for men and women, young and old, athletes and sedentary, and for the disabled. All styles are based on similar principles: relaxed, rooted posture; straight, supple spine; diaphragmatic respiration-- the abdomen expanding on inhalation, retracting on exhalation; fluid movements without excess effort; and tranquil awareness. For more information, please read the Qigong FAQs page. 


Ken Cohen offers training in Qigong health and wellness styles, visualization and meditation practices, External Qi Healing and Therapeutic (Medical) Qigong.  He also offers courses and comprehensive training in Chinese Inner Martial Arts and Tai Chi and the science, culture, and delights of Chinese Tea (See Tea Talks and Tastings).


The Repertoire: Programs Taught By Ken Cohen

Depending on the length of the course or workshop, a program generally concentrates on one or two of the methods or topics listed below. Programs may also be designed to meet special interests and needs of your group.

Health and Wellness Styles of Qigong


  • Yi Quan 意拳 (The Mind-Intent Martial Art) is one of the most comprehensive systems of qigong, martial arts, health cultivation, and meditative movement, the legacy of esteemed Master Wang Xiangzhai. A great foundation in the core elements of qigong posture, breathing, and movement, as suitable for complete beginners as for advanced practitioners. Unlike Tai Chi, it does not require learning a long and complex choreography. Rather, the emphasis is on awaking one's natural, inborn potential. Because of its extraordinary attention to posture, movement, breathing, and mindfulness, Yi Quan teaches the vocabulary upon which both martial arts and qigong are based. Evidence suggests that it is excellent for brain health, neurological functioning, and as complementary therapy for Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Brain Injury, and balance problems. It is as effective for optimizing health as for improving athletic performance. Yi Quan includes Standing Meditation, Walking Meditation, Shi Li (“Experimenting with Force”), Methods of Receiving, Sending, and Moving Energy to improve coordination, Healing Imagery, Fa Jin (Discharging Power for martial arts or sports), one-on-one postural therapy, Jian Wu (Health Dance: improvisational and creative combinations of techniques in flowing patterns), and much more. A 7 module pre-recorded Yi Quan course (90 minute per session) is available, including lifetime access to the videos, downloadable transcripts, a study guide, and a bonus gift of audio, video, and written materials. Detailed information and ordering info here:

  • Bone Marrow Cleansing 洗髓經 (Xi Sui Jing). The classic system of purification qigong, attributed to Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. Bone Marrow Cleansing sends healing qi through the bones. Studies suggest positive effects on the immune system.

  • Healing Sounds 六氣法 (Liu Qi Fa). Beginning and advanced levels of Healing Sounds, an integration of sound and posture to drive toxins out of the lungs, heart, liver, spleen, and kidneys. The advanced set includes exercises to detoxify acupuncture points and meridians. The Healing Sounds are widely prescribed in China and have an excellent clinical record.

  • Primordial Qigong 混元內功 (Hunyuan Gong). An exceptionally rare and powerful qigong from the ancient Taoist tradition and transmitted today by renowned Taiji Quan Master Feng Zhiqiang. Professor Cohen learned this system originally from one of Master Feng's senior students, Madame Gao Fu (1916-2005) and also from Master Feng himself. Blend the primordial energy of Heaven and Earth with the energy of life within the body.

  • Coiling Silk Qigong 纏絲功 (Chan Si Gong) also called "Silk Reeling" refers to the uncoiling of a cocoon as you gently pull a silk thread. Coiling silk movements are slow turning and spiraling techniques that open and close the joints and stimulate the qi to dissolve dense, congested, or tight areas.

  • The Five Animal Frolics 華佗五禽戲 (Wu Qin Xi) is the most ancient healing qigong form still practiced today. The Five Animals were created by Hua Tuo, the father of Chinese Medicine in the second century A.D. The Five Animals are the Crane for relaxation, the Bear for strength, the Monkey for flexibility, the Deer for grace and the Tiger for power.

  • Snake and Hawk Qigong. 道家蛇鷂雙形功 In this powerful Taoist qigong, the snake is yin, representing the earth; the hawk is yang, representing the heavens. The Snake includes slow, spiraling movements that dissolve tension, increase the body’s supply of qi, and sharpen awareness and intuition. Snake Breathing opens the acupuncture meridians and spreads vitality to every cell of the body. The Snake is complemented by dynamic Hawk Flying Methods that imitate the soaring and swooping motions of the hawk. To put it simply, the snake teaches suppleness; the hawk teaches speed and power. 

  • Taiji Ruler 太極尺 (Taiji Chi). The first person to teach this technique publicly, Zhao Zhongdao lived to age 118. Taiji Ruler is attributed to Taoist recluse Chen Xiyi and was until the 1950s a secret of the Chinese imperial family. It consists of easy-to-learn rocking movements that build qi in the feet, lower back, abdomen, and hands. It may be practiced for self-healing or to increase the power of healing touch. Learn the complete system of Taiji Ruler, including the personal health practices, two person exercises, strength training, and meditative Ruler.

  • Standing Meditation 站樁 (Zhan Zhuang). Standing Meditation is the foundation of qigong practice. The student learns to stand in meditative postures for a period of time in order to improve posture, deepen the breath, and increase the body's structural integrity. Better alignment produces greater ease and freedom of movement. An individual who is proficient in Standing Meditation has Peng Jing, Resilient Power and core strength. This makes Standing Meditation an excellent qigong to prevent impact injuries, whether from a fall, a flying object (or bumping into one), or a martial arts fist. Having Peng Jing doesn’t mean that one cannot be injured, only that one is far less likely to be injured. 

  • Muscle/Tendon Transformation 易筋經 (Yi Jin Jing). Dynamic isometric exercises combined with respiratory techniques. Builds strength and power without muscle mass.

  • The Eight Brocades 八段錦 (Ba Duan Jin). The eight brocades is a simple qigong warm-up and stretch routine that students learn in one or two classes.

  • Eighteen Monks 十八羅漢功 (Shi Ba Luohan). Vigorous stretching, strengthening, balance, and conditioning exercises to improve sports and martial arts performance.

  • Xingyi Quan 形意拳 is the dynamic internal martial art, which many believe is related to Tai Chi. Like Tai Chi, it may be practiced for health or as a vocabulary of self-defense technique. According to legend, the founder of Xingyi Quan incorporated Muscle Transforming Qigong, Marrow Washing Qigong, Chinese medical theory, and close observation of nature to create this beautiful art. Practices include San Ti Standing Meditation to harmonize the energies of the Heavenly, Earthly and Human, as well as Xingyi Five Element exercises for metal, water, wood, fire and earth. Visit the Inner Martial Arts and Tai Chi page for more information.

  • Self-Massage 按摩功, 拍打 (An Mo Gong, Pai Da). By tapping, slapping, pressing, or chafing the skin over specific meridians, acupuncture points, organs, muscles, and joints, stagnant qi is dispersed and circulation improves.

Qigong Visualization and Meditation 存思,內觀

Qigong includes the most extensive and ancient system of healing imagery techniques in the world as well as methods that cultivate “emptiness”–  a state of profound peace and quietude in which not a thought nor worry exists. Ken offers training in classic and rare qigong meditation methods, the legacy of Taoist Abbot and Acupuncturist Huang Gengshi and other teachers.


These practices include:

  • Gathering Energy from Nature: Sun, Moon, Stars, Earth, Sky, Trees

  • Lesser and Greater Heavenly Circulation: sending qi through meridians, to clear them of obstructions and restore health

  • Turtle, Crane, and Deer Meditation, to refine Spirit (Shen), Breath (Qi), and Sexual Vitality (Jing)

  • Inner Nourishing (Nei Yang Gong): combining specific breathing patterns with healing phrases to directly affect health and state of mind

  • Healing Sound Meditations (Liu Qi Fa) to balance the qi of the internal organs

  • Taoist Brain Cleansing to chase away mental cobwebs and suffuse the brain with healing light

  • Taoist Alternate Nostril Breathing, to balance yin and yang energies and clear the central “thrusting” acupuncture channel

  • Harmonizing Heaven and Human (Tian Ren He Yi) to become like a tree that connects to and unites the energies of sky and earth

  • Taiji Five Phase Meditation to rid the body of toxic and stagnant qi

  • Golden Light Meditation to restore the body’s original qi and link with the primal energies of the universe

  • Awakening the Dragon and Tiger, to stimulate the energies of the abdominal and heart energy centers (dan tian)

  • Cultivating Stillness (Ru Jing), also called The Fasting of the Mind (Xin Zhai): the mind is refreshed when it occasionally “fasts” from thinking

  • Embryonic Respiration (Tai Xi): training the breath to become Slow, Long, Deep, Smooth, and Even. As the breathing rate drops, the mind becomes calm and clear.

These meditations are not all taught in any one particular course but rather integrated, as appropriate, into various workshops or classes. In this way, students learn how to balance qi through both meditation and exercise– the yin/yang poles of qigong training.

External Qi Healing 外氣療法 & Medical Qigong

An External Qi Healer uses gentle touch or non-contact treatment to reach the client’s life energy (qi) and bring it to balance. It is different from western Therapeutic Touch in that it includes a sophisticated method of health assessment and a systematic training for the healer to increase the effectiveness of his or her treatment. External Qi Healing (EQH) is valuable for health-care providers or anyone who wishes to deepen his or her understanding of healing energy and its effect on others.

Scientific research has demonstrated that EQH is not dependent on the client’s belief system or cultural bias; it is effective in vitro and in laboratory animals. Patients treated by EQH have less frequency of recurrence of disease than those treated by acupuncture. Yet, the system is easy for a Westerner to learn as it does not require knowledge of Chinese medicine.


The objectives of this course include:

  • learn self-healing exercises and meditations. The healer must learn to take care of his/her own health so there will be no danger of either transmitting diseased qi or being depleted when working with the ill

  • find a core of inner strength. Create appropriate boundaries yet maintain compassion.

  • open the body/mind to the universal well of healing power in Nature. By tapping a transpersonal source, the healer reaches an unlimited supply of qi.

  • learn the theory and practice of EQH, including methods of assessment, projecting specific forms of therapeutic qi, and how to integrate EQH into the healing/helping professions.


About the terms "Medical" or "Therapeutic Qigong"

Ken's work has been sponsored by the American Cancer Society, chronic pain clinics, and numerous medical schools, hospitals, and health-care organizations. External Qi Healing courses are designed to teach practical techniques and supportive research that address specific health concerns. 


Since the 1950s, it has become popular in China and, recently, in the United States to speak about Medical Qigong 醫功. This term was a political expediency, a re-labeling of longevity and wellness techniques (originally known as yang sheng, 養生 “nurturing life”) to make them more acceptable to Communism and to western medicine. I prefer the term “Healing Qigong” to “Medical Qigong”, as the goal of qigong is to treat the whole person, to establish energy balance and spiritual harmony rather than to focus on disease (the realm of medicine). 

Special Interests

  • Sports Qigong: Golf Gong anyone? Qigong can dramatically improve performance in any sport. Ken has worked with numerous athletes and coaches on the sports applications of Qigong. One golfer improved his drive by 50 yards after a month of qigong. A tennis pro found a new way to teach hand-eye coordination, weight shifting, and waist flexibility. A qigong runner has more spring in his/her step and preserves knees and hips from injury. Of course the most famous sports application of qigong is to the martial arts, to increase strength. power, speed, and coordination, and to prevent injury.

  • Sexual Qigong: This course provides details about how to achieve personal sexual health through exercise, diet, and ancient practices of circulating and balancing life force with your partner. This is a professional lecture format that combines Taoist philosophy with Chinese medical theory.

  • Business Qigong: Qigong can reduce stress and improve employee health, attitude, social skills, and energy. It means less missed work days and a better bottom line. One of Ken's students, the former owner of one of the largest used car dealerships in the U.S., attributed his success and early retirement to qigong. Employees who practiced qigong had more energy and greater sensitivity to customer needs. Sales went through the roof! Business managers and negotiators can use qigong to stay centered, which means not being manipulated or pressured into poor decisions. At all levels, qigong teaches business people how to take better care of themselves.

  • Qigong for the Disabled: The Qigong Research and Practice Center was one of the first centers in the world to offer qigong to the physically challenged. As early as 1973, Ken Cohen was tutoring the blind in Taiji Quan and had developed a method of teaching through gentle touch and detailed description. During the 1980s, students sometimes rolled into class in wheel-chairs and were thankful that they were accepted and encouraged--an illustration of a paraplegic student is included in Ken's book, The Way of Qigong, Ken was instrumental in changing the closed door policy that qigong teachers, in China and abroad, once had towards the handicapped.

  • Feng Shui: Heaven, Human, and Earth: the trinity of Chinese thought. To understand the heavens, study astronomy and astrology. To understand the human being, study medicine and qigong. To understand the earth, learn feng shui. Feng shui teaches the influence of home design and landscape on health, state of mind, and fortune. Which direction should the main door of a home or business face? Why do people feel depressed or elated in a particular room? How can you sense earth energy and know where to build your home? Feng shui includes practical ways to boost the positive qi in a place or space.

  • Taoism (also spelled "Daoism"): Taoism is a rich spiritual and religious tradition with diverse orders, sects, organizations, temples, shrines, and monasteries.  It has a strong emphasis on ethics (“virtue”), ritual, liturgy, and community service (such as performing funerals). Kenneth Cohen studied various facets of this tradition academically with Professors Michel Strickmann, Wolfram Eberhard, Edward Schafer, and other professors of classical Chinese language and culture. And he trained practically as an apprentice to Longmen Sect Taoist Abbot Huang Gengshi (1910-1999) and is an initiate of other Taoist lineages as well. The aspect of Taoism which is most accessible and of most interest to Westerners is Taoist philosophy, a major influence on Chinese art, poetry, cuisine, medicine, and, of course, qigong. Kenneth Cohen teaches this aspect of Taoism.

  • The Tao Te Ching. The Tao Te Ching, the 5th Century BCE classic of Taoist wisdom, meditation, and social justice, is one of the most important and enigmatic texts in world religious literature. No wonder there are more than 250 translations in English! In this course, you will learn the hidden meaning of this great classic, including specific advice on how to cure the diseases of excess thinking and selfishness, link with the forces of nature, lead by example, and, in the process, transform society. The class will include lectures on key chapters as well as instruction in Taoist meditations referenced by the text.

  • The Yi Jing: Taoist Divination and Prophecy. The Yi Jing (or I Ching), the Classic of Change, written more than 2,000 years ago, is the world’s only spiritual classic devoted to the theme of change itself. After introducing the history and philosophy of the text, we will explore it as a tool for self-understanding and divination. The Yi Jing contains coded instructions in alchemical meditation-- ways of transforming the “fire” and “water” of the body into the “gold” of long life and wisdom. We also learn how to use the book in conjunction with a simple toss of coins or the observation of omens in nature (Plum Blossom Numerology) to predict future events and answer “big questions”: such as those that concern life purpose, relationships, and health. Most importantly, studying the Yi Jing helps us enter the realm of simultaneous time, in which the river of time flows not only from past to future, but from future to the present. The text offers advice about how to either ride gracefully on the current or gently redirect its flow to create more peace and harmony in our lives. 

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