Personal Growth, Self Care

Five Element Qigong

By Albert E PerryDec 15, 2021

Five Element Qigong is an extension of the five element theory of Chinese Medicine, culture and philosophy. Although it is called five elements, it is really five phases, and even 5 archetypes. How the phases interact and their archetypal relationship with each other and each person is important in my process of diagnosing the origin of pain points and how to resolve them.

Five Element Qigong Theory

In Five Element Qigong, the elements or phases are named: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each of these elements incorporates an organ system, Each system has two organs and a meridian network The meridians are like connecting and delivery channels, As I refer to the organs, they have the same names of physical organs, and they articulate with the physical organs, but they are in fact energetic and should not be confused with the physical organs with the same name. In Qigong, there is an energy body that interacts and animates the physical body, but it is not the physical body.

In the illustrations on the left, each element is depicted with a colored ball. The thick arrows show a relationship. The arrow comes from the nurturer, like a parent, to the child. So Water nurtures Wood, Wood nurtures Fire, and so on around the circle. The thin arrows depict control. It’s a little like a grandparent. Water controls Fire, Wood controls Earth and so on around the circle. These relationships are a valuable tool for me when figuring out the source of chronic pain or imbalance.

Wood Element

The Wood Element’s season is Spring. The organ system is the Liver/Gallbladder.

The predominant wood attributes (when in balance) are strength flexibility and courage. Think of bamboo, strong, yet flexible, pervasive yet adaptable. Imbalanced, the Wood Element will show the body in stress, with inflammation and rigidity. The imbalanced emotions that becomes stagnant and destructive in the Liver are anger, irritation and annoyance. While the constructive emotions are courage and confidence.

Wood Element Qigong ~ Stand with legs shoulder width apart. Visualize roots extending from heels and balls of feet, twice as deep as you are tall. – Raise the arms up and imagine your body is the trunk of a strong tree, your legs the roots set deeply into the earth, and your arms the branches – A wind begins to blow, first from the left, as you inhale, then right, as you exhale. As the wind blows, your branches go with the wind, not resisting. They bend and sway but never break – your trunk sways slightly with the wind following the movement of your (arms) branches. This teaches our body to be supple, flexible and mobile in the face of daily challenges. Using deep breaths, along with the gentle movements and visualizations, help to dissipate stress, the most common cause of Wood Element imbalance. Check out another wood element exercise on my YouTube channel.

Fire Element

The Fire Element’s season is Summer. The organ system is the Heart/Small Intestine.

Fire is active in it is character, The energy of the Fire Element is expansive. Fire is associated with the qualities of exuberance and persistence; it is also connected to restlessness. Warmth and creativity are also attributes, although, in excess, impatience and impulsive behavior will dominate. When you are true to yourself, this element nurtures the joy and laughter associated with playfulness. The destructive emotion, that becomes stagnant and uncomfortable is anxiety. In balance, the Fire Element likely reveals the prevailing constructive emotion of joy.

Fire Element Qigong – Stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder width apart – Lift the toes of the left foot and rotate on the heel 90 degrees to the left. Bending the left knee into warrior 2 legs, with the right leg straight behind you – raise your right arm parallel to the ground with a bent elbow as if to block someone is trying to hit you – extend the heel of your right palm under your left forearm as if you were going to strike the same opponent in the chin – Yet, rather than a fighting pose, imagine your forearm and palm absorbing brilliant red light like solar collectors, shunting the light through the chest and torso into the back leg – rotate back on the left heel to the original stance and repeat the same process on the right side – inhaling when rotating to the left and exhaling when rotating to the right – repeat the whole round nine times with long deep breaths. This exercise cultivates healthy heart energy while dissipating the stagnation that can cause anxiety. See this Fire Element Exercise on my YouTube channel.

Earth Element

The Earth Element’s season is Summer. The organ system is the Spleen/Pancreas/Stomach. The Earth’s archetype is like a Grand Matriarch, drawing all beings together with itself, in order to bring harmony, the sense of feeling grounded and stability. That steadfastness, stability and a feeling of trust in life’s process is the essence of a balanced Earth Element. Worry, and the mind throwing it is energy and thoughts into the future brings instability, dizziness and an upset stomach when Earth is out of balance. So worry is the stagnant destructive emotion and harmony and trustworthiness are the balanced constructive emotions.

Earth Element Qigong – Make a triangle with thumbs and index fingers and hold it above and away from your forehead with the arms extending the triangle about 18 inches in front of you. Visualize golden sunlight coming through it and into the third eye, between your eyes and brow height, as you slowly twist your upper torso to the left. Simultaneously draw golden Light up the inner aspect of the right leg. Repeat, twisting slowly to the right as you exhale, continue seeing the sunlight coming into the third eye through the triangle and drawing golden Light up your left leg. Repeat nine times. As you move back and forth, with long deep breaths pacing your movement, think of the sun, rising and setting, as it comes across the horizon with your movement. Feet rooted deep into the earth, there is nothing to worry about as you trust that the sun will continue to rise and set every day. This exercise cultivates harmony and a healthy immune system, while dissipating worry and distrust in life’s process. Check this Earth Element Exercise out on my YouTube channel.

To Be Continued…

The Metal and Water Elements are discussed in the next blog. Please also check out these and other Qigong  exercises on my YouTube Channel

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  1. I will assume that I am the fire element only because of one reason, my star sign haha. I was born on the 31st of March which makes me an aries and aries is a fire sign. Please correct me if I am wrong. I have heard of Qigong before but I was never really sure what it is about. This article has given me a bit of perspective 

    1. Thanks, Daniel, for reading and commenting.

      Your birth sign, which as an Aries Is a fire sign, has nothing to do with Five Element Theory. This is all about how your body works in conjunction with nature. It’s difficult to explain in a blog, but I thought I’d attempt it. From your question, I suppose I’ve failed you🤣.

      Be well, Daniel! I’ve got a follow up on this blog that will perhaps make more sense of it all.

  2. I have heard of the Five Element Qigong before but never understand what it all meant until reading your detailed blog.
    I will be following your instructions for Earth Element, very interesting. I would like to share your blog with my social media followers and bookmark it for easy access later to complete the steps. 

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Jeannette. Feel free to ask questions as you explore Qigong for your health and well-being.

      Stay well and Thrive!


  3. I am learning from your article that the importances of certain elements can aid in recovering your body. I also see that there are certain meditation poses that, included with breathing techniques, can help improve your physical condition by cleansing your spirit. Do you know of any combination techniques that would help reduce back pain on an advance level? 

  4. Great article. 

    My question here is, What are the eight brocades?                                                                                                                                        

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting..

      Well the 8 brocade would be a while blog by itself. It’s nothing to do with the 5 elements that I discussed here, other than it’s a very early form of Qigong, probably about 2,500 years ago in origin, but it could be more.

      That form came out of the Dao Yin (guiding, breathing and stretching) or Yang Sheng Fa (Longevity Practices).

      The names for the 8 pieces of brocade are: 

      1.     Palms raised to Heaven

      2.     Drawing the bow

      3.     Separating Heaven and Earth

      4.     The Wise Owl Gazes Backward

      5.     Shake the Head & Swing Tail

      6.     Punching with Angry Eyes

      7.     Press the Earth, Touch the Sky

      8.     Lifting Up the Heels

      The Eight Brocades form has probably morphed into hundreds of variations in that 2,500 years.  Some refer to it as Baduanjin gigong. Ba duan jin translates to “Eight Pieces of Brocade.”

      8 is an important number in Qigong. Ba (eight) Gua (directions) is a spiritual Qigong. There are also 8 trigrams that make up the Bagua. It consists of eight symbols used in Taoist thought representing the 8 fundamentals of reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated combinations of Yin and Yang.

      That’s probably more than you wanted to know. Perhaps I’ll do a Qigong video of the 8 exercises.

      Subscribe to my YouTube channel to get notified👍


      Thanks again for your interest,

      Stay well and thrive!


  5. I have heard of the Five Element Qigong before but never have I made out time to read, not to talk of understanding its meanings till now. what a brilliant understanding. it is like a complete cycle; Water nurtures Wood, Wood nurtures Fire, fire to earth and earth to the metal around the circle. thanks so much, Albert for this eye-opening, well-researched work. I shall keep following for the continuation so I can have a complete takeaway of the entire five-element qigong complete the steps. thanks once more, sir.

  6. I have heard of the Five Element Qigong before but never have I made out time to read, not to talk of understanding its meanings till now. what a brilliant understanding. it is like a complete cycle; Water nurtures Wood, Wood nurtures Fire, fire to earth and earth to the metal around the circle. thanks so much, Albert for this eye-opening, well-researched work. I shall keep following for the continuation so I can have a complete takeaway of the entire five-element qigong complete the steps. thanks once more, sir.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Nathan!

      I’m happy that you resonated with the five elements..

      Feel free to question me, and I hope to see you in future posts.

      Stay well and thrive!


  7. When I first saw your hiding Five Element Qigong I was not sure what it was all about. As I kept on reading I found out that it is a element theory of Chinese Medicine, culture and philosophy.

    I was amazed to find out that Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water all  incorporates an organ system and each system has two organs.

    I found out that wood stands for Liver/Gallbladder and spring.

    I find it very interesting that wood (Element Qigong) and it symbolises a tree. To learn how to breathe probable is very important for relaxation which make a lot of sense.

    The Fire Element’s season is Summer this makes a lot of sence because it is hot in summer.

    I found your article very interesting and I leaned a lot about Qigong.


    1. Thanks, Elke, for reading and commenting.

      It’s always satisfying fire me to introduce someone to Qigong specifically and Chinese medicine in general. Qigong has been good to me for decades off good health. Chinese Medicine in general, is a fascinating way to approach healthcare. It’s aligned with Nature, and we are part of nature, not separate.

      Thanks for exploring with me!

      Stay well and Thrive!!


  8. My partner and I practised Qigong for some years but for various reasons that I now don’t remember we stopped.  The article here is well written in explaining how each element works and what it helps with.  I like the fact that it has been broken up, stating “To be continued…” with another blog post to complete the 5 elements.

    No questions because I am familiar with Qigong, although the one we used was the Spring Forest Qigong with Master Chunyi Lin.  I may well get back to this article later.

    All the best.

    1. Hi, Lola, thanks for reading and commenting.

      Yes, there’s just too much info for one blog, so I broke it up. The next part is @ https://qiworks.net/water-and-

      I hope you get back to your Qigong. It’s been very good to me for decades. I’m not familiar with Spring Forest Qigong. Many folks have come up with their own variations. I learned from a master who’s linage goes back more than a thousand years. I put my own spin on each exercise though. The form isn’t so important as the intention. 

      You might take a look at my YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/c/AlPe…   I have quite a few short, easy Qigong videos on there, and evn a couple of full Zoom classes.

      Stay well and keep thriving!


  9. This is an interesting post. Never thought of seeing elements as hunan body parts. Who would have thought of that? I am just concern with the color of the elements.  Some are positive and some are negative. So how does a person avoid the negative? Will definitely read your next part of the post.

    1. Hi Bernard, thanks for reading and commenting.

      The colors are neither positive or negative. They are just colors. They are corresponding to the color of the actual Yin organ, Heart – Fire – Red, Liver – Woid – Green, ECT.

      The emotions are, however, either constructive or destructive. Avoid destructive emotions by dealing with them as they arise.

      Stay well and thrive!


  10. From reading your post, I would say I am a Fire element, but not completely 😁. Never heard before Qigong but it is a very interesting topic. It seems at first as something very complex, and hard to know, but after you read it a little bit, it gets more clear. 

    1. Hi Ivan, and thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the article.

      In Five Element Theory, the elements are not signs, like in astrology, they are phases that all of Nature, including us, go through. The macro passed is a 12 year cycle. Most commonly it’s a yearly cycle, abd summer is the ringer off three fire element. But our heart and small intestine are also organs off the fire element, and that is to complex to explain here.

      If you’re interested, you can go to my YouTube channel – https://youtube.com/c/AlPerryQ

      I have a video on rack Element. Here’s the one on Fire: 

      Stay well and thrive!


  11. Qigong is an interesting concept, if that’s what you call it. I have a question: Should one learn all these exercises and then do each of them every day? Or is it better to practice occasionally? They seem to me to be a good series of exercises to center you, and to remove all sorts of negative energy. Thanks for explaining Qigong to us.

    1. Thanks, Fran, for taking the time to read and comment on the article.

      The five element series is often done as a practice, with emphasis on whatever element is in season. Here’s more in winter, it would be the water element. So, I would do 5 or 9 reps with each element, and 18 reps of the water element.

      All element exercises are on my YouTube channel. https://youtube.com/c/AlPerryQ

      Stay well and Thrive!!


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