Relaxing Your Way to Lower Blood Pressure with Qigong

Blood Pressure Cuff


If you’re one of the millions battling high blood pressure or hypertension, you know how frustrating and concerning it can be. Medication helps, but adding a gentle mind-body practice like Qigong could be a game-changer for getting those numbers down naturally.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a condition in which the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries is consistently too high. Blood pressure is measured with two numbers – the systolic pressure (top number) over the diastolic pressure (bottom number). Normal blood pressure is considered to be a systolic reading below 120 mmHg and a diastolic reading below 80 mmHg.

Hypertension is defined as having a consistent systolic reading of 130 mmHg or higher, or a diastolic of 80 mmHg or higher. Readings above 180/120 mmHg are considered crisis levels requiring prompt medical attention.
High blood pressure often has no obvious symptoms, which is why it’s called the “silent killer.” Left uncontrolled, it increases the strain on the heart and blood vessels, raising risks of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and other serious health issues.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), hypertension is seen as being linked to stagnant Qi (vital energy) getting stuck in, or an excess of Qi in the upper body, especially around the head and heart areas. The stresses of our modern lifestyle – endless mental strain, lack of exercise, rich diets – can cause our Qi to become imbalanced and accumulate upwards. This builds up pressure, literally and figuratively, putting a strain on our heart and vessels. According to ancient TCM wisdom, getting that Qi moving downwards smoothly through the body is key to sustainably lowering blood pressure.

That’s where qigong comes in. The soft, flowing movements coordinated with deep, abdominal breathing to re-establish a healthy flow of Qi with this traditional practice. Specific qigong exercises focus on activating the meridian channels running through the legs and lower body. As you mindfully practice these gentle leg raises, knee rotations, and other lower-body movements, you help create a pathway for stagnant or excess Qi to descend from the head and chest. It’s like a revitalizing stream of energy-clearing blockages from head to toe.

Excess Qi no longer pools around the heart, reducing that hypertensive force. At the same time, the smooth downward circulation helps calm the mind, since TCM associates a clear head with a balanced descending Qi. Don’t just take ancient wisdom for it – modern research backs up qigong’s positive effects on hypertension too (1)(2). Studies show qigong can significantly lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings compared to no exercise at all. But beyond just the numbers, qigong cultivates a profound sense of mind-body connection and relaxation. The slow, focused movements quiet the nervous system’s fight-or-flight response that amps up blood pressure. And the meditative state achieved strengthens resilience to stress.

Diving Deeper into How This All Works:

In TCM, maintaining the harmonious balance and smooth flow of Qi and Blood is considered essential for overall health, vitality, and longevity. Through practices like qigong, acupuncture, herbal remedies, and lifestyle adjustments, TCM aims to restore and maintain this delicate equilibrium, addressing the root causes of disharmony and promoting a state of optimal well-being.

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) principles, the stresses and lifestyle factors of modern living can contribute to an excessive accumulation of Qi in the upper body and head, potentially leading to conditions like hypertension. Here’s an in-depth explanation of how this phenomenon is understood in TCM:

1. Qi Flow and Emotional Balance:

   In TCM, the smooth flow of Qi (vital energy) is closely linked to emotional well-being and mental balance. Stress, anxiety, and excessive mental activity can disrupt the harmonious circulation of Qi, causing it to stagnate or become imbalanced in certain areas of the body. In TCM the heart and mind are seen to directly influence each other. Large amounts of stress or too much excitement can ‘injure’ the heart, that is, it unbalances the Qi in the heart. Conversley excess Qi in the heart can aggitate the mind and perpetuate stress and over thinking.

2. Liver Qi Stagnation:

   The Liver organ system in TCM is closely associated with the free flow of Qi and the regulation of emotions. Stress, frustration, and anger can lead to Liver Qi stagnation and excess, which can cause Qi to become congested and rise upward, accumulating in the head and chest regions. In TCM the Liver and heart have a connection in Five Element theory; the Liver is seen as the wood element and the Heart is seen as the fire element. So wood feeds fire making the heart over active.

3. Overworking the Mind:

   Modern living often demands excessive mental exertion, such as prolonged periods of intense concentration, multitasking, or overthinking. According to TCM, this overactivity of the mind can generate excessive Qi in the upper body, particularly in the head, leading to conditions like headaches, dizziness, and insomnia. And as mentioned above the mind then disturbs the heart.

4. Sedentary Lifestyle:

   Lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to Qi stagnation in the body. When Qi is not able to circulate freely due to inactivity, it can become congested in the upper body, leading to an imbalance between the upper and lower portions of the body.

5. Imbalanced Diet and Digestion:

   An imbalanced diet, particularly one high in greasy, spicy, rich foods, or large quantities of highly processed food can lead to digestive imbalances and the accumulation of dampness and heat in the body. This can cause Qi to become turbulent and rise upward, leading to conditions like hypertension, headaches, and agitation. We also know from modern nutrition, that the wrong foods or poor diet can lead to cardiovascular health issues, and heart conditions.

6. Hypertension and Excess Upper Qi:

   According to TCM, the excessive accumulation of Qi in the upper body over a long period, particularly around the heart and head regions, can contribute to the development of hypertension or high blood pressure. This excess Qi can agitate the heart, TCM doctors say, “there is too much fire in the heart”, leading to an increase in blood pressure and potential complications.

To address this imbalance, TCM practitioners often recommend a combination of lifestyle modifications, dietary adjustments, and practices like qigong, tai chi, and acupuncture. These approaches aim to promote the smooth flow of Qi, regulate emotions, and disperse stagnant Qi from the upper body, thereby reducing the risk of hypertension and other related health conditions.

It’s important to note that while these TCM principles provide a holistic perspective on the relationship between stress, Qi imbalances, and hypertension, modern scientific research is still exploring the physiological mechanisms and correlations behind these ancient concepts.(1)(2)

Exercising the legs is believed to help draw excess Qi down from the upper body and head area, thereby potentially reducing agitation of the mind and hypertension.

From a TCM perspective the important points are:

  1. Qi and Blood Distribution: Qi and Blood are meant to circulate smoothly throughout the body. Any stagnation or excess accumulation in one area can cause imbalances. and lead to health issues.

2. Head and Heart Qi Excess: Excess Qi gathering in the head region is associated with agitation, restlessness, headaches, and insomnia. Too much Qi rising toward the heart is linked to hypertension, palpitations, and agitation.

3. Descending Qi Effect: Exercising the legs, especially through gentle movements like leg raises, heel kicks or knee rotations, are thought to facilitate the descending and smoothing of Qi down the body. Simple walking can also help in this regard.

4. Opening Lower Channels: These lower body exercises help open and activate the meridian channels running through the legs, like the Liver, Spleen, and Kidney meridians. This provides a pathway for excess upper Qi to descend. Massaging these meridian pathways and specific Acupunture points can also help ( a topic for another Blog post).

5. Calming the Mind: As excess Qi descends from the head, it reduces stagnation and ecxess there, which in TCM correlates with a more calm, focused mind state. This results in reduced stress and mental disorders like rumination and over thinking.

6. Reducing Hypertension: The downward flow of Qi away from the heart area helps relieve stagnation that contributes to hypertension or high blood pressure.

So by exercising the legs mindfully through practices like qigong or tai chi, one aims to kinetically shift the distribution of Qi downward, relieving excess upward rising forces that manifest as agitation, hypertension or an overly active mind.

It’s part of the TCM and Qigong goal to achieve a balanced, smooth flow of Qi and Blood throughout the body’s energetic channels. This is all the more reason to practice Qigong and have a consistent practice.


If you’re looking for a low-impact way to help get those blood pressure levels back into the healthy range, practice your Qigong. The beauty of this ancient mind-body practice is that it addresses hypertension from multiple angles – physical, mental, and energetic, as described above.

By gently moving stagnant and excess Qi downward and opening the body’s channels, Qigong helps relieve that excess upper body tension, helping to lower high blood pressure. The slow, focused movements and deep breathing tap into the rest-and-digest response, calming the nervous system’s fight-or-flight overdrive that constricts vessels.

At the same time, Qigong cultivates resilience to the very stresses of modern life that can cause Qi imbalances and hypertension in the first place. The meditative state strengthens your ability to let go and flow through life’s challenges without internalizing that pressure.

All it takes is committing to a regular practice of just 10-20 minutes per day as a bare minimum. The more Qigong you do the greater the benefit. Let the gentle Qigong forms be your daily reset – an oasis of stillness amidst the storm of our busy world, at the same time potentially helping to lower high blood pressure, or at least as a potential preventative measure as you age.

There are specific standalone Qigong exercises for high Blood pressure that can be done to complement your existing Qigong practice. My recommendation, however, is to establish a robust daily practice of your existing Qigong routine, focusing on slow deep abdominal breathing, and slow relaxed movements. Take some time at the commencement of your routine to set the intention for your practice, which should be for health and to lower your blood pressure.

As you harmonize your Qi flow through consistent daily practice, you are actively caring for your heart and entire cardiovascular system’s well-being.

(Warning: Please note you should never discontinue your blood pressure medication if you have hypertension. Qigong is not a replacement for this, however over time it may allow you to reduce your medication, but strictly in consultation with your doctor.)

yours in Qigong

Sifu Peter


  1. Effects of qigong on systolic and diastolic blood pressure lowering: a systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis.      PMID: 33407414 PMCID: PMC7789757 DOI: 10.1186/s12906-020-03172-3.

Results: A total of 370 subjects sourced from seven eligible RCTs were entered into the analysis. The pooled results demonstrated the significant reduction with the use of qigong of the systolic blood pressure [weighted mean difference (WMD), – 10.66 mmHg (95% confidence interval (CI) = – 17.69,-3.62, p < 0.001] and diastolic BP [WMD, – 6.76 mmHg, 95% CI = – 12.22, – 1.30, p < 0.001] as compared to the control group.

Conclusions: Significant reductions in BP is seen with the use of qigong as compared with the control group, suggesting that qigong may be used as a complementary therapy in the somewhat complicated management of hypertension

2. The Efficacy of Tai Chi and Qigong Exercises on Blood Pressure and Blood Levels of Nitric Oxide and Endothelin-1 in Patients with Essential Hypertension: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.  PMID: 32802122 PMCID: PMC7414352 DOI: 10.1155/2020/3267971. Results: 9 RCTs involving 516 EH patients were included. The intervention duration lasted from 1.5 months to 6 months. The results of comprehensive analysis showed that compared with control interventions, experimental interventions were more effective in reducing the systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure and contributed higher blood levels of NO and lower blood levels of ET-1.

Conclusions: TCQE could be an effective complementary and alternative therapy for EH. The lower BP in EH patients who practice TCQE may have some connection with exercise-related increased blood NO levels and decreased blood ET-1 levels. However, further research is needed to make clear the efficacy of TCQE in the management of EH and the mechanism of lowering BP in TCQE.

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