Qi Stagnation Body Type

 April 2, 2021

By  Juli Kramer

Qi stagnation most often occurs in people who have a hard time balancing their emotions. When you keep your emotions stable, you will feel better physically as well. Keep reading to learn how!

Reading time: 8 minutes

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According to Chinese medicine, no emotions are inherently bad or good. However, if you get tied to particular emotions and do not return to a calm state, qi can stagnate because your emotions are stagnant.

Qi stagnation is one of the most common imbalances treated by TCM practitioners in the West.

What causes a qi stagnation body type?

To illustrate, think about qi as the energy that moves your body and mind, somewhat like electricity in your home.

If the light switch is off, a breaker trips, or the power grid is down, you have no power. The lights will not light up, the furnace cannot heat your home, your hot water heater stays cold, etc.

The same is true in your body. If you have qi stagnation, energy cannot get where it needs to go and problems result.

In the Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Class), Su Wen, a famous Chinese doctor millennia ago cautions:

The hundred diseases arise from the qi. When one is angry, the qi then raises up. If one is overjoyed, the qi then slows down. When one is sad, the qi then vanishes. If one is afraid, the qi then goes downward…

When one is frightened, the qi is then disturbed. If one is overworked, the qi is then consumed. And when one is overthinking, the qi is then stagnated.

Your emotions affect your qi and health

This ancient quotation teaches that your emotions have a powerful effect on your qi and health.


  • Anger harms the liver
  • Joy weakens the heart
  • Sorrow hurts the lungs
  • Anxiety impairs the spleen
  • Fear damages the kidneys.

Therefore, you can see that Chinese medicine views a direct link between your mind and body. Sudden or chronic mental stress can directly affect the movement of qi in your body.

Moreover, if you cannot return to a calm emotional state, your health can suffer more and more over time.

As a result, you may suffer from chronic depression, anxiety, fragile emotions, neurosis, moodiness, insomnia, a feeling like something is stuck in your throat, and other qi stagnation symptoms.

You can feel better

Therefore, if you have qi stagnation, your most important health task is to calm your mind. For example, feeling angry during a situation and working through that anger is normal and healthy.

Holding onto that anger, thinking about the past over and over again, stagnates your qi and causes a wide range of symptoms. The same holds true for positive emotions, such as joy.

Reliving past joy or glory at the expense of being in the present also stagnates your qi.

Emotions need to flow like water through your mind and body. To illustrate, if a creek stops flowing, water backs up, algae grow, the water turns murky, and the creek can no longer sustain life. The same is true in your body.

You cannot effectively fight disease, feel energized, and enjoy life when your emotions stagnate, and qi cannot flow.

Here are some general patterns associated with a qi stagnation body type.

You may have overcome some of these tendencies with lifestyle choices you make. Well done! Read on to learn how to improve your health further.

Common physical symptoms of qi stagnation

  • Depression
  • Fragile emotions
  • Frustration
  • Moodiness
  • Feeling like you have a lump in your throat
  • Body pain
  • Digestion problems
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Impotence
  • Light red tongue with a thin white coating
  • Wiry pulse

Common physical characteristics

  • Body shape is often slim.

Common emotional characteristics

People with qi stagnation often

  • Are introverted
  • Have unstable moods
  • Feel overly sensitive
  • Worry excessively

Greatest health risks for qi stagnation

  • Hysteria
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Hypertension
  • Gastritis
  • IBS
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Chronic gastritis
  • Chronic colitis
  • Hepatitis
  • Cancer

How to off-set your qi stagnation body type through diet

To overcome your qi stagnation, eat pungent foods to promote the flow of qi, ease feelings of depression, and strengthen digestion. Also, eat on a fixed schedule and only eat until about 70% full.

Avoid overeating which can cause food retention by weakening the spleen. Food retention can minimize the absorption of nutrients, which are essential to move qi.

Eating on a fixed schedule to strengthen digestion in order to unblock.

Following the Chinese medicine body clock, you should eat a large breakfast between 7:00-9:00 AM, an even larger lunch between 11:00 AM-1:00 PM, and a light dinner between 5:00-7:00 PM.

Two final tips about dietary changes you should make. First of all, limit your alcohol consumption.

Alcohol depletes weakens. Secondly, avoid drinking coffee or strong tea after 2:00 PM.

Foods to add if you have qi stagnation

People with a qi deficiecny should add pungent foods. These foods are great choices.

buckwheatcelerychiveschrysanthemumcorianderdaikon radishfennelgarlicgrapefruithawthorn berriesjasmine tealily bulborangesonionsparsley

peppermintrosebud teasword beanstangerine peel tea


Rosebuds help clear qi stagnation

Foods and beverages to avoid

If you have a qi stagnation, you want to avoid items that block your qi, such as the following items:

alcoholcoffeedeep-fried foodfatty foodspicy foodstrong teasupplements should be used with cautionsweet food

Qi deficiency

People with qi stagnation should not coffee, especially not after 2:00 PM.

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How to strengthen your qi with lifestyle changes

Relax your mind

Furthermore, when you have qi stagnation, your emotional energy is blocked. Learning how to focus your mind is the most important tool you can use to bring your mind and body back into a healthy and happy condition.

For instance, cultivate a light-hearted, open-minded approach to life. You might have to “fake it ‘til you make it,” but keep at it. Research shows that a even fake smile can boost your mood.

Also, according to Chinese medicine, smiling internally has the same power as a physical smile on your face.

Additional activities to clear qi stagnation include watching funny movies that make you laugh and taking part in social activities that keep your mind engaged. Furthermore, talk to friends or a counselor.

To maintain your mental and physical health, TCM believes that you should speak at least 2,000 words each day. If these words include telling someone how you feel, they have even more power to heal.

Overall, remember the Chinese medicine principle, “Joy check melancholy.” Therefore, you should actively seek joyful experiences. Make sure not to watch movies or listen to music that is sad, violent, or tragic.

Additional lifestyle recommendation for qi stagnation

In addition to actively seeking out joyful experiences, you need to follow healthy living practices. Get plenty of sleep, ideally going to sleep no later than 11:00 PM.

Internal organs essential for removing toxins and waste from your body do most of their work during the hours of 11:00 PM and 4:00 AM. If you are awake during these hours, they do not receive the energy or conditions they need to help you heal.

Also, keep you home clean and quiet. If you live with others or have a family, create at least one space in the home that will be a retreat just for you.

Guided meditation to balance your emotions

Qi stagnation results from emotional imbalance, and can lead to even more serious emotional disturbance.

Qi deficiency

Clearing blockages in your body will also allow you to release negative emotions you might be holding onto. Once the blockages clear away, you can build emotional armor to keep you healthy with a calm mind. This guided meditation will help you start your emotional healing.

How to exercise for your qi stagnation

If you have qi stagnation, exercising with others can help bring you back into balance. Firstly, you move and open blocked meridians in your body when you exercise. Secondly, doing the activities with other people boosts your mood and energy.

Additionally, exercise outside to draw in as much fresh air as possible. That will boost your mood and help unblock the flow of qi in your body.

Qigong exercises

Qigong is a moving meditation. Doing qigong will help focus your mind, as well as clear stagnant qi in your body.

Enjoy this relaxing 28-minute qigong flow to calm your mind.

Qi deficiency

Acupressure massage to clear qi stagnation

To bring your body back into balance, you should add acupressure massage to your daily routine. It is a powerful tool for people struggling with qi stagnation.

When you massage the acupressure points listed below, you clear blocked meridians. Removing blockages will allow qi to flow throughout your body, for better physical and mental health.

Ren 17, Tanzhong, Sea of Qi point

Massage in a small circle or press 50 to 100 times every night before going to sleep. Gentle stroking along these points helps qi move in the meridians.

Qi deficiency

Triple Energizer (Sanjiao), 12 (Xiaoluo), 4 (Yangchi), 6 (Zhigou), and 5 (Waiguan) for Qi Stagnation

Several times each day, stroke or pat down the arm to massage these Triple Energizer points. They help to regulate all of the qi in the body.

Triple Energizer 1 to 12 to clear qi stagnation

Lung 4, L 4, Hegu and Large Intestine 3, LI 3, Taichong for qi stagnation

Massage in a small circle or press 10 minutes every day to open the meridians and promote the flow of qi and blood to clear qi stagnation.

Large Intestine 1 to 12 acupressure pointsLung acupressure points 3 to 6 clear qi stagnation

My Body Type Quiz

Don’t know your TCM body type?

Take the quiz!

Qi Stagnation Constitution References

Deadman, P. (2016). Live Well Live Long

Yanfu, Z. (2002). Life Cultivation & Rehabilitation of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Yao, H. & Guo, W. (2001). Chinese Food Life Care

Zhang, L. (2017) A TCM Way to be Healthy Inside and Out

Images used with permission from

Juli Kramer

Dr. Juli Kramer is a certified qigong instructor. She also holds a diploma in Chinese Medicine Nutritional Therapy and multiple certificates in Chinese medicine. As a qigong and meditation teacher, Dr. Kramer understands the important role movement and meditation have on developing a healthy body and mind. Juli also has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Counseling Psychology.

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