Opening the Energy Gates by Bruce Frantzis is The Most Important Qigong Book To Have in Your Library

There is no other book I return to more for my qigong practice than Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body by Bruce Frantzis. It’s the one I consistently recommend to students and anyone who emails the school to inquire about starting a qigong practice before they have access to a teacher.

Here’s how to get the most out of it, whether or not you have someone who can give you regular feedback on your practice:

Whenever my students are getting ready to study with Bruce for the first time, I tell them, “he teaches in chapter headings and book titles. It will be up to you to go back and write the paragraphs, sentence by sentence, as you do your own personal practice over the weeks and months after you study with him.”

The Energy Gates book isn’t actually that different. As you can see from the video, there’s a lot more in there than you want to practice initially. Here’s how I recommend that you follow through on a personal practice, based on the information in the book.

Build a Solid Foundation

To help you get into a good rhythm with your standing practice (because I know how hard it can be sometimes), I created these guided practice mp3’s.

As you go through the posts in the series, you will find 5-, 10-, and 20-minute practice sessions. Start with whichever one feels comfortable. Eventually you will find that your internal speed will slow to a rate that might require 30 minutes or an hour to complete one full head-to-toe scan. There’s no rush to get there and no one will hand you a trophy when you do.

Follow the Energy Gates Schematic

The logic of Energy Gates, from an energetic perspective, is that the standing practice clears stagnant energy out of your system. Think of it as an internal flush of whatever is stuck.

That means that after you complete the sinking into the feet (or below), you need to move. You can make a gradual transition into movement using Cloud Hands.

For now, Cloud Hands will be enough movement to get everything circulating strongly again. Eventually, adding the Swings builds up your internal connections in a more powerful way, but these are really hard to learn without a lot of ongoing feedback.

Finally, complete the clearing and circulating process with one final release: the Spine Stretch. As you learn to feel more and more of your back muscles, deep and in toward the spine, you will gain better control over the moving pieces. What this allows you to do is set up more full releases of any sense of holding in your nervous system. It can be a strong experience, so go slow and limit yourself to 2 or 3 each time you practice.

Learn More When You Can

If you practice Sinking, Cloud Hands, and the Spine Stretch on your own as a regular practice, then you’ll be in great shape for meeting with an instructor. Live and in person, you’ll be able to:

  • Get feedback on the dynamic alignments you need to maintain for the swings
  • Be guided through the more subtle releasing techniques that allow you to dissolve energetic blockages
  • Understand the importance of the gates for more precise movement and standing work

Still, when you compare Energy Gates to any other set, the depth you can get out of these three exercises on your own is tremendous. Good luck in your practice!

More Energy in the Next 30 Days…

Take our free, email-based course and you will have more energy in the next 30 days than you’ve had in the last year.

How the course works:

We’ll take an in-depth look at moving your body, your energy, and your mind, all with the goal of smoothing out your nervous system and boosting your energy levels.

Throughout the month, you’ll receive these 8 lessons via email:

  1. How to Break through the Daily Noise
  2. How to Connect to a Natural Power Source
  3. How to Structure Your Practice
  4. Refining Your Standing Practice to Boost Your Chi
  5. How to Weave Together Tai Chi’s 3 Branches
  6. Take Tai Chi out into the World
  7. Finding Flow by Feel
  8. Boost Your Practice, Week after Week

These emails include audio practice downloads, tutorials, essays, and practice tips designed to get you deeper into the Energy Arts and expand your awareness of what’s possible with a personal movement practice.

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  1. Kevin Hartwell says:

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the advice; I love that book. When I began with the book I learned standing for a few months then moved on through the book in the linear approach (except the dissolving) learning cloud hands, the 3 swings and the spine stretch. Should I cease practicing the swings? If so, could you explain further? Ive been learning them for 8 months and feel like Im doing ok with them, I feel like my alignments are good, and I dont get any pain.

    Many Thanks,


  2. Tom Schley says:

    Hi Dan,
    That was an excellent summation of Opening the Energy Gates. You tackled the problem of making the book useful and I think did a great job. It’s now a practical rather than the esoteric wish list book I imagined it to be. Yep, I went for the swings (all this was 20 years ago in Santa Fe), breezing over the more subtle releasing stuff at the beginning. I wanted the exciting moving parts and was too impatient to do the foundation…not a good way to approach Taoist teachings, or any other teachings really. I did the swings, but probably not very well.

    One thing I did find very useful from my early West Coast Tai Chi lessons was warm up arm swings. I was told they did these in Northern China to keep warm. Sure enough when working in Alaska I’d do the swings and got my fingers warm enough to handle cold pots and pan in camp while preparing dinner in below freezing temps. That was the first really practical use I made of this work.
    Thanks for listening,

  3. Hey Tom-

    Glad it was a useful breakdown! The updated version of the book has even more practical info than the first one, which is still a gem.

    Re: the swings. I think that’s the tricky part — the arm swings are incredibly useful, but the leg work is a challenge to learn. You can see variations on them in many different schools and clearly, you’ve already field-tested their effectiveness!

    Good stuff,

  4. Hey Kevin,

    I have an idea. I’ll send you an email with more info. 😉


  5. This is good info for me. The opening gates book is very time consumeing to understand fully. I like to take alittle and play with it and be in the body, not the mind. Thank you Dan for the posts. Larry

  6. Hi Larry,

    I’m glad the Energy Gates posts are helpful! Let me know if you have anything else about the set you’d like to see covered.