Whether you’re looking to gain relaxation, find more energy in your day, or are recovering from an injury, the benefits of Qigong are limitless. But what about when you practice? Is there an optimum time of day for Qigong? What difference does it make in the benefits you gain?
For me, the best time to practice is in the morning. However, there is no one perfect time to practice Qigong. Just like some of us are morning people and others are night owls, energy flows vary from person to person. So, the best time is whenever it works best for you, your mind-body, and your schedule. Nevertheless, there are some important factors to consider when choosing when to practice, and in this post, we discuss some of the pros and cons of doing Qigong at different times of the day.
Different Times to Practice Qigong
Sunrise and Sunset
Sunrise and sunset are especially powerful times for tapping into nature’s flows and stepping into mindfulness. As a transition from night to day, sunrise is often associated with yang energy (activity, vitality), while sunset, as a transition from day to night, is associated with yin energy (calm, peace). When we practice Qigong at these times of day, we practice in sync with nature’s energies.
Qigong at sunrise is a great way to help spark energy flows. Just like the day is moving from dark to light, your mind and body are waking from its state of rest, and Qigong helps guide you in this transition. We recommend starting in stillness or slow movement, gradually working up to something more active as the sun rises. Many people who practice at sunrise describe feeling a sense of calm, as well as energy, for the day ahead of them.
Qigong at sunset is a wonderful counterpart to practicing Qigong at sunrise. Just like sunrise marks the movement from night to day, sunset marks the movement from day to night and is an ideal time to wind down from the day’s activities. We recommend a Qigong practice that gradually works its way into stillness and meditation from exercise that is more active, mirroring the day’s transition into darkness. This can help you decompress and get ready for an evening of relaxation.
Qigong throughout the day
A lot of the same pros of practicing during sunrise are true for practicing in the morning. If sunrise is a little too early for you, you may consider doing Qigong first thing after you wake up, whenever that may be for you. As with sunrise, practicing in the morning tends to be energizing. In this way, it might be an ideal time for active Qigong. Though Qigong is a gentle exercise, it releases endorphins just like any other exercise, and it’s a great way to start the day. At the same time, if you’re in need of some still meditation before the day starts, morning is a great moment for that too. You might consider combining it with your other morning routines, such as walking.
Many people describe feeling refreshed after practicing in the morning. Practicing early also means that you have committed to your practice and have the rest of the day open to whatever life brings you, this is an excellent way to make sure you set aside time to practice.
Nighttime is a great time to practice Qigong, especially as a way to move into relaxation. It can be easier to enter into a state of calm at night, after the day is over and free from obligations. As with sunset, night practice can be an optimum time for a more still, meditative Qigong that restores a sense of peacefulness. People who practice at night often report improved relaxation and better quality of sleep.
However, some people feel too energized after practicing at night, leading them to be wide awake rather than relaxed and calm. Everybody is different, not to mention different types of Qigong may have different effects,so we recommend trying these times out and seeing what works for you.
While many people prefer to practice either in the morning or at night, Qigong can also be a perfect break from the day. Maybe you need an energy boost or a moment of focused breathing as a way to relax. Whatever your situation, Qigong is a cathartic means of letting go of stresses you’ve encountered and to re-energize for the rest of the day. It can also help break up the monotony of routine. Later in the day, your body temperature is higher than in the first half of the day, since your blood, muscles, and organs have had time to move and work. This means that your body is more open and flexible in the afternoon than it is first thing in the morning, which is helpful for stretching and exercise.
That said, midday practice may not be for everyone. Some people find it to be disruptive to the day, or otherwise challenging to enter into a meditative mindset. Depending on where we are in life, what our schedules are, and how we are feeling, Qigong practice can feel profoundly different for us at different times of the day. Our advice is to try out different times and to feel out what works best for you.
Are there times when you should avoid practicing Qigong?
While there is no “wrong” time to practice Qigong, we do have a few recommendations for things you might avoid. Though practicing right before bed works for some people, some report feeling too sleepy to focus if they start too late. However, if you have insomnia (having trouble falling asleep) many find that practicing Qigong especially still practices and meditation can help them to fall asleep easier and have a better deeper sleep.
If you are practicing a moving Qigong meditation, it might also be wise to wait an hour or so after eating so that your body has had time to digest. This will allow you to metabolize your food and turn it into active energy most effectively. The same goes for more meditative Qigong forms. Some Masters even recommend waiting up to 2-3 hours, so that your body has had time to absorb and digest food before you tap into your Qi.
How often should you practice Qigong? Does it need to be at the same time every day?
Masters of Qigong often recommend practicing at the same time every day. The advantage of this is that it becomes part of a daily routine. The benefits of Qigong are gained most with consistent practice even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes a day. But even if you’re not able to practice at the same time each day, that is okay too. Qigong is a flexible exercise in that you can practice for as little or as long as you’d like, and can choose when and where to do it. The important thing is to set aside time for it, and ideally to build a habit of it. If you are just starting out, check out our 21 Day Beginner’s Challenge and learn more about the benefits of consistent practice.
Are there certain settings that are better for Qigong?
Qigong is highly adaptable and can be practiced just about anywhere. With more people working from home, it has become popular for Qigong to be practiced at home. Live and recorded online classes make a wide range of exercises available. You can see our online course offerings here. It is also amazing to practice Qigong in nature, in a park, in your backyard, or on the beach! You might try practicing barefoot, which can help you feel connected to the earth. Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, most important is a space where you can find a sense of calm (so noisy environments, or very windy days, might not be ideal).
No matter what time of day you practice Qigong, you will gain all of the benefits. Each of us is made up of a constellation of different energies, and there is no one universal or “correct” time for practice. Some people like to do Qigong first thing in the morning; others at sunrise or sunset. It comes down to what works for you and what you are looking for. Try out different times! See what effects it has on your mood. David J. Coon, our Qigong Master, talks about the effects of Qigong on your mood in more detail in this post.
Listen to David Discuss the Best Time to Do Qigong
David answers this question in the video below and offers a 5 minute Qigong practice: