The Practice of Five Gates Breathing

By David A. Silva

This article is a short introduction to Five Gates Breathing. Although anyone with some mastery of attention and awareness can start exploring this practice, individuals who have working experience with abdominal and / or reverse abdominal breathing will find themselves on familiar ground.


Simply put, Five Gates Breathing employs the following locations:


1       Bahui ( Gv-20 ) cavity center top of head

2-3   Laogong ( P-8 ) cavities center of each palm

4-5   Yougquan ( K-1 ) cavities center bottom of each foot


Sitting comfortably upright, direct attention towards quiet abdominal breathing. Release tensions that you can, and when relaxed place your awareness on the Five Gates. As you inhale allow your awareness to follow the breath as it flows into your Lower Dantien. One should strive to let go of muscular tension and breath easily, allowing expansion in the abdomen to extend to the perineum. As one exhales awareness is on the breath flowing from the Lower Dantien to the Five Gates.


When one's attention drifts, allow it to return to the Five Gates and Lower Dantien. Using verbal thinking to direct attention is counterproductive, as is forced breathing movements. One should be actively neutral as awareness follows the breath in and out of the Five Gates.


This is a balanced practice that provides many benefits. Firstly one may notice that the points of attention form a stable energetic hexagram of cavity spaces. Secondly throughout the practice there is simultaneous up and down movement of breath / chi. Energetic balancing happens simply through the awareness following the breath.


After a certain amount of practice, one begins to notice the flow of energy in and out, up and down as the breath cycles. Coordinated expansion and contraction of the Huiyin ( Cv-1 ) – the cavity in the center of the perineum – develops naturally without forced intervention or hint of muscular tension. 


When one is at home with this practice, energetic self corrections are possible. If there is a problem area in the body, one can direct the flow from the Five Gates to pass through the problem area on the way to and from the Lower Dantien. This averages out excessive Yang / Yin accumulations relieving symptoms and encouraging release of blockages.


I recommend starting slowly, no more than 20 minutes, once or twice a day. In the early stages sitting for long periods in this practice may not be beneficial without an experienced practitioner / teacher to monitor your progress. After a time, when one feels the practice is as comfortable as an old shoe, extending the practice into a time of safe activity is more beneficial than increasing sitting time. I enjoy taking a morning and afternoon walk around the neighborhood as I Five Gates Breath. This energizes my centerline and prepares me for an ease in whatever activities follow.


There are other benefits that naturally occur, it is best that I leave these for your discovery and delight!


Comments are closed.