There is a basic qi'gong form which goes with four-square breathing. Practitioners will recognize it: standing with feet shoulder width apart, hands held out front; on inhale hands are raised from ~hip high to shoulder high with arms extended and relaxed; then hold breath in and drag hands ~shoulder high closer to body; exhale and lower hands closer to body from shoulder high to hip high; hold breath out and drag hands forward away from body; all with 4 even time periods for each movement.

When doing four-square breathing, the circulation of hands is in the opposite direction as the usual microcosmic orbit circulation. Microcosmic orbit goes from base of spine up to head on inhale, circulating down one's front on exhale. While doing four-square breathing, is there a recommendation on what to visualize? The square circulated by the hands along with the microcosmic orbit come together to form a sort of infinity sign, but it feels strange to have two opposite direction cycles going on at once. Maybe that is the point! I'm looking for guidance from someone familiar with the exercise.

  • Is there a reason you think this exercise needs visualization?
    – mattm
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 18:31
  • @mattm there are layers of meaning and practice in qi'gong exercises. I've been taught to use specific visualization in certain exercises and have been encouraged about the spontaneous visualizations that have come to me with other exercises. That's the reason I'm inquiring about visualization in this exercise, but it's a good point that the exercise can be done without worrying about any of that.
    – cr0
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


The breath is a aid to drawing Qi, when thinking about the breath you are focusing on the internal movement of Qi. The movements work better with the greater heavenly orbit, also called the macrocosmic orbit. Visualisation is fundamental to Qigong but not necessary for exercising.

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