The Functions of the Yang Meridians within Qigong

When practicing Qigong, the functions of the Yang meridians are often overlooked, or misunderstood. In this article I will cover both the classical TCM functions and those attributed through the art of Zen Shiatsu.

FIRE – Triple Heater / Triple Warmer

TCM Functions of the Yang meridians

Triple Heater meridian. the functions of the Yang meridians
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Combined, the Triple Heater has a general function of transportation (via the water passages) and heat distribution throughout the body. it is also connected to the Lymphatic System (Defensive Qi).
“The Triple Heater is in charge of the correct direction of movement of all types of Qi in all parts of the body”
It is related to the “Three Burning Spaces”. That is the heart, the solar plexus and the Dantien.

Upper Heater

Is described as being “like a mist”.  It comprises of the Heart and Lungs and transports the Qi, in the form of vapour, to all parts of the body.  It controls the outward movement of Defensive Qi to the skin.

Middle Heater

Is described as being “Like a foam”.  It is like soaking things in water to cause decomposition.  It comprises of the Stomach and Spleen and is in charge of digesting food, transforming it and transporting it, in the form of Food Qi, to the Lungs and Heart.  It controls the movement of Nutritive Qi, moving ST Qi downwards and SP Qi upwards.

Lower Heater

Is described as being “like a swamp”, acting like a channel for water.  It comprises of the Liver, Kidney, Bladder, Large Intestine, and Small Intestine.  It transforms the “clean” food for use by the body, excreting the waste substances and fluids.  It has a downward function/movement to facilitate urination.

Zen Functions

  • Controls Spirit and Organs, circulating Qi to the whole body via the Three Heaters.
  • Protects the body through the functioning of the Lymphatic System.
  • It is the body’s thermostat, producing and regulating heat.

FIRE – Small Intestine

Functions of the Yang meridians - Small Intestine meridian
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TCM Functions of the Yang Meridians

  • Separates the pure from the impure. That is to say, sorting and absorbing.

Zen Functions

  • Digesting and assimilating food, governing the total body energy.
  • Absorbs mental anxiety, emotional excitement, and shock.



EARTH – Stomach

Functions of the Yang meridians - Stomach meridian
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TCM Functions of the Yang meridians

  • Controls the rotting & ripening of food.
  • Controls the transportation of food essences.
  • Controls the descending of Qi.
  • Is the origin of fluids.

Zen Functions

  • Governs the functioning of the digestive passages, especially the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum.
  • Governs the reproductive, lactation, ovary, and appetite mechanisms.  It also governs the menstrual cycle.

Metal – Large Intestine

Large Intestine meridian
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TCM Functions of the Yang meridians

  • Governing Qi and respiration.
  • Controlling the circulation of Qi in the blood vessels and meridians.
  • Controlling the dispersion and descending of Qi.
  • Regulating the water passages (through the dispersing and descending functions).

Zen Functions

  • Intake of Qi and elimination of gasses by exhalation.

WATER – Bladder

TCM Functions of the Yang meridians

Functions of the Yang meridians - Bladder meridian
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  • Transformation of fluids by Qi (i.e. storage and excretion of the urine).

Zen Functions

  • Governs the autonomic nervous system, especially in relation to reproductive and urinary functions,
  • Related to the mid brain and assists the Kidney in relation to the hormonal system.
  • Purification and elimination of urine.



WOOD – Gall Bladder

Gall Bladder meridian
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TCM Functions

  • Stores bile and secretes it into the duodenum to break down fats.
  • Assists Liver with the distribution of Qi.

Zen Functions

  • Distributes nutrients and balances total energy through the action of the digestive fluids (hormones, saliva, gastric acids, etc).

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