Exercise: Tai Chi Principles - 4 Gates

The next Tai Chi energy pattern is the 4 Gates.  This is where you use the feet and palms as gates for energy to flow in & out of your body. You create a circular pattern of energy through your breath. You let the energy 'pool' in your abdomen (naval) before it travels around your body. This allows you to imagine the energy entering your body as bright & vibrant, to invigorate your body and self; re-energizing you.  The energy that enters your abdomen then disperses throughout your body, but essentially it melts into your self; fusing with your essence to energize you.

This exercise really helped me learn mindfulness exercises for pain relief, so it is worth sticking at conquering the 4 gates.  The focus on 4 gates will help calm you & stop you from worrying about other things.


Tai Chi Gates Breathing Patterns

You can do this sitting or standing, whatever suits your needs today.  You can have your eyes shut or half opened, I prefer shut so I can really focus on the sensation of the breath travelling through my body.

(a) Lower Gates

4 gates inhale


  1. Inhale energy up from the earth through the soles of the feet, past the ankles, along the inside of the calves, knee & thigh, into the pelvis & up to behind the naval energy centre.   Visualise the breath as positive, bright white clean energy into your body as it travels up your lower body.
  2. In the gap between the inhale & exhale, let the breath (& energy) pool in your abdomen like a giant ball of bright white energy melting into your body. 4 gates exhale
  3. Exhale and feel the breath run down the back of your pelvis, you’re your sit bones, and down the back of your buttocks, to the outside of your thighs, knees, calves and down through your heel into the soles of your, and then into the ground, but continue the energy and breath a further 2 feet down into the earth. This helps you feel grounded.  Imagine this exhale carrying negative energy and bad feelings with the air out of your body and into the earth, so that they can be cleansed in the ground.
  4. In the gap before you inhale, feel the tingling sensation of being alive in your lower body, especially your feet.

Continue this breathing pattern for a minimum of 15 breath cycles.


(b) Upper Gates

Similar to the Lower Gates this is for the top half of the body.

4 gates inhale

  1. Inhale through the palms of the hands, along the inner arms & front of the torso into the naval centre.
  2. In the pause, let the energy pool in the naval centre & then diffuse into the body. 4 gates upper exhale
  3. Exhale and move the energy up the spine and over the shoulder blades, into the back of the arms and out through the palms.
  4. Pause on the gap in the breath & feel the tingling sensation of the upper body being energised by this cleansed breath.

Continue this breath pattern for a minimum of 15 breath cycles.  You should feel your palms get warmer, then you know you're doing it right.


(c) Combined Feet & Hands

This may too much to think about, so use it with caution. You have to combine the feet and hands 2 breath patterns together. In the early days it was too much for my brain to split attention, so I would alternate 15 breaths feet & 15 breaths hands, trying to see if I could add the other in occasionally in between. Eventually you will master all 4 gates together & enjoy the calm energised feeling it creates in your body.

4 gates inhale

4 gates exhale