#6: Charging the Center

General Description

Recommended Repetitions: 12 to 24, or moreFill and warm up your lower abdominal power center.
Movement: Hands on lower abdomen. Slightly tilt the pelvis with an inhale. Exhale to neutral pelvis.
Main Purpose: Builds power in the lower energy center.
Main Qigong Principle A: Belly Breathing.
Main Qigong Principle B: Pelvic Tilt.
Main Qigong Principle C: Fill the Dantian, the lower energy center.

Description of the Physical Movements of Charging the Center

Place hands on the lower abdomen between the belly button and the pubic bone. One hand is over the back of the other hand.  It doesn’t particularly matter which hand is on the body. Inhale through the nose, bending the knees slightly and engaging a pelvic tilt. You want to breathe into the lower  Abdomen; the shoulders should not rise. On the exhale through the nose straighten your legs, reversing the pelvic tilt.

Inhale to belly, bending knees

Inhale to belly, bending knees and tilt pelvis

Exhale, straighten knees and pelvis neutral

Exhale, straighten knees and pelvis neutral

Modifying the Exercise

Avoiding Pain
The movements of Charging the Center are small to begin with, so most people can do them easily enough. But if there is some kind of pain when you perform it, say in the hips or knees, then move in a smaller way. Most of the power of Qigong is in how you focus your mind and breath. Moving with a smaller amplitude still allows you to feel the whole body, sink the weight into the center, and fill the center fresh Qi and body consciousness.

Sitting

If you have difficulty practicing this exercise standing, or you are in a wheel chair, you can practice it sitting down.

Menstruation

During menstruation you may want to skip this exercise and do more of Exercise #7: Charging the Kidneys. Some teachers say that women should not practice at all during menstruation.

Pregnancy

If you don’t yet practice Qigong, you will probably want to wait until after the birth of your child. If you already practice Qigong and you become pregnant, you will probably want to continue your practice. I suggest you skip Charging the Center and do more Charging the Kidney.

Mental Focus: Dantian

Relax your mind while lightly focusing on the center of your lower abdomen. Putting your mind into your lower abdomen draws excess energy out of your head and other areas above the abdomen. In the internal arts from China, this geo-energetic center is known as the Dantian (“DAWN tee en”) or the Lower Dantian.

Energetic Focus: Dantian

Dantian is pronounced “DAWN tee en”. This is  a word meaning literally meaning “field of elixir.” Qi comes into your body through the inhale, then descends to the belly to enter the Dantian. Qi from your head, neck, shoulders, chest and back also sinks and enters the Dantian. You might feel your dantian heat up as a fire would. Allow the Dantian become magnetic to healing energy. On the exhale, the Qi is encouraged to stay in the Dantian and build up there.

A Real Healing Field

As a field of elixir, the Lower Dantian is a place of natural healing medicine. It is the center of the body and is associated with coordinated movement, physical power, deep breath, and life force energy. The Lower Dantian is also a repository and refining center for Qi.

Coordinating Breath with Movement

I talked about this important Qigong health principle on Exercise #3: Waking the Breath. Here it becomes even more explicit in your practice. Your movement begins and end with the beginning and ending of each half of your breath. Breathing in, you begin to pelvic tilt. Your inhale then continues smoothly as you bend the knees and lower the body at a regular pace. Your body lowering ends exactly as you reach the end of the inhale. Exhale in the same way, by starting the body rise and exhale together and ending them together after a smooth, linked middle.

Balanced Inhale and Exhale

You want to tend toward a breathing rhythm that is the same frequency and ease on both breathing in and breathing out. Practicing Charging the Center is an excellent method to regain a more healthful breathing cadence and capacity.