Qigong Through the Seasons

A flow of classes with Dr. Ron Davis

We are part of nature, which means we are fundamentally connected to the everchanging energy at the heart of each season. There is no escaping the influence of weather and climactic changes. As the planet turns throughout the year, the amount of sunlight impacting our environment fluctuates and it is this thermal change that determines our local climate. Every culture’s  existence, every person’s health, hinges on the seasonal cycles of weather.

The ancient Chinese developed an elegant, insightful and practical method for living in harmony with these changes. They understood that the body, mind and spirit of human beings could thrive if they practiced specifc exercises, diets, and lifestyle modifications during each season. These health care methods change as the seasons change. It is the most natural form of medicine known to humankind. The effectiveness, symmetry and sophistication of this system is astounding.


The Five Phases of Change

Earth in Center185Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water describe the interplay of forces that govern all changes in the universe. Every aspect of creation, destruction and renewal occurs within one of the Five Phases. When you understand the relationships among the phases and their organ networks you can create a lifestyle that perfectly nourishes body, mind and spirit. In Chinese culture this way of living is called Yang Sheng, or Nurturing Life. It consists of qigong exercises, Daoist meditations, seasonal diet/herbs and a deep appreciative connection to nature.  Dr. Davis presents the principles of Yang Sheng in a practical and interesting series of classes called Qigong Through The Seasons


spring150The Wood Phase is a heady, invigorating, tumultuous season with wild fluctuations of energy surging throughout nature. The momentum created by the rising Yang Qi is felt as movement in the world: plants thrusting skyward, icy rivers flooding, babies thrashing with the joy of life. Qi moves in the human body like a slow tide flowing from its winter storage in the lower abdomen up into the chest to move stagnate blood and activate the Liver Network. The focus for Spring: liver cleansing, blood circulation, Yang Qi regulation, anger vs. kindness, interpersonal communication and tonic herbs.

Fire.2x2 150The Fire Phase urges us to reach out and make contact with the world. During this season of splendor and heat, the energy of nature grows outward with color and radiance. At this time, our Spirit comes alive with expansive awareness – it wants to make intimate connections wih all the elements of heaven and earth through the Heart Network. The exuberance of Fire can be refined and then directed toward the ultimate purpose of being human: spiritual awakening. Summer Qigong is all about: heart health, Yang Qi cultivation, spiritual nourishment, scatter vs. contact, and tonic herbs.

Metal150The Metal Phase invites us to contemplate our present and future. This is the season to separate the wheat from the chaff, to discard bad habits and enhance postive influences leading to better physical and mental health. There is an air of pensive reflection and slowing down, and yet a feeling that now is the time to take care of our innermost needs. We should get our house – body and mind – ready to gather and store the descending Yin Qi for self preservation. Autuman Qigong is about cultivating the Lung Network: lung function, gathering Qi, making decisions, grief vs. courage, and tonic herbs.

winter150The Water Phase is the season of Ultimate Yin. The energy of nature is contracting and being concentrated in the central reservoirs of the body. The descending energy of autumn is now stored away in the most essential structures and pathways: bone marrow, kidneys, taiji axis, and the central nervous system. We use this time for cultivating our deepest wisdom through the practice of silence, contemplation, and Daoist meditations. Winter Qigong is a solitary practice to cultivate the Kidney Network: kidney enhancement, storing Essence, refining Yin Qi, fear vs. wisdom, and tonic herbs.


Earth Phase
Earth.2x2 150Seasons are determined by the cycles of solar radiation. The equinoxes and solstices are not the beginning of a season but actually the midpoint. For example, the winter solstice is the turn around point for solar radiation and therefore considered to be the middle of winter because the days will be getting longer and nights shorter. The Earth Phase is a nine day period just before and just after each equinox and solstice. It is a time of transition through the energetic center of the planet.


These classes have one fundamental purpose:

The combination of Chinese medical wisdom with modern research findings gives us guidelines for building better health with safe, natural, interesting and effective methods. There are two types of classes for Seasonal Qigong: a one day Intensive and a short weekly series of Practice sessions.

The one-day Intensive class is held on a Saturday near the beginning of the season. This is the complete presentation of the principles and practice for the upcoming phase/season. Dr. Ron will use discussions, illustrations, research, stories, and sometimes poems to explain the relevant aspects of classical Chinese medicine so you will understand why we are doing what we are doing for this season. Students receive a detailed handout of the information for practice at home. This class is very comprehensive: it includes the core qigong exercises for the season, relevant meditaitons/contemplations, specific foods and herbs, and guidance for lifestyle considerations during this energetic Phase.

Occasionally the Intensive is followed by the Practice class. This consists of weekly hour long sessions for two to four weeks during lunch time. The intention is to refine and further explore the qigong and meditation aspects that were taught in the Intensive. Many people find these additional sessions very helpful in learning the correct forms and getting a better understanding of the whole practice. While it is most useful as a follow up to the all day Intensive, it is also available to those who have not attended that class. Due to scheduling issues, this class is not always offered after each Intensive.

 UPDATE: These two in-person classes are not offered during the pandemic.
Please go to “Classes” in the main menu to view current online offerings.


The first part of this fascinating book explains the historical and modern principles of qigong, the five phases paradigm, meditation, seasonal diet, and chronobiology. Later chapters explain and illustrate a comprehensive plane of natural health care for each of the four major seasons.

bookCover330From a review: Qigong Through the Seasons is a “must read” for anyone looking for a comprehensive guide to building a qigong practice. This incredibly thoughtful work is a skillful mix of philosophy, context, instruction and holistic practical advice for anyone interested in building or expanding their understanding of this timeless approach to achieving optimum health. Wonderful illustrations, clear instructions, holistic guidance for incorporating meditation, diet and movement in one poetic package. If you want a single comprehensive guide to establishing better health through qigong, this is it, Treegirl.

And another: Your book brings all these interests together. I particularly like picking up on your attitude, which to me is one of an aspiration towards tranquillity, vibrant health, wisdom and compassion. The drawings are clear and simple to understand. I look forward to moving through the year and practising the different types of Qigong, meditations, herbs and diet. This book adds so many dimensions to one’s Qigong practice, James Ward.

summerMeditations250Dr. Davis narrates two CDs that will help you stay healthy during the two extreme seasons: Summer Yang and Winter Yin. Each program contains guided meditations using vivid images, explanations for seasonal influences on our health, soothing music, and appropriate poems. The CDs begin with a colorful introduction to Daoist meditations and explains how the seasons affect our health. The program also gives tips on postures, settings, and scheduling for a regular practice so that you may “enjoy the journey through the energetic landscape of your mind”.

Please click here for detailed information about the book, Qigong Through The Seasons and the CDs Guided Meditations for Summer and Guided Meditations for Winter.