Qigong Fasting (Bigu) — Your Best Investment in Health, & Best Defense against COVID-19

Qigong Fasting (Bigu) — Your Best Investment in Health, & Best Defense against COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 has changed almost everything in our lives.  As the pandemic spread in America and around the world, there is no sign of effective treatment in a short time, while the new vaccine has been short of supplies with unknown effective period.  Your best defense against the pandemic is still the strength of your immune system.   When you get a lot of time at home, have you thought of invest some time in your own health for the unknown future? For the second time during pandemic we are offering the teaching of ancient Daoist wellness practice — Bigu (energetic fasting) — online in response to the global pandemic of corona-virus (COVID-19).  This is probably the best time for you to invest in your own health and wellbeing through Qigong fasting (Bigu) training….

What is Bigu (Qigong fasting)?

Energetic fasting, or Bigu (避谷), has long been a tradition for health and longevity in Daoist & Buddhist practice. As the matter of fact all religions have some kind of tradition and practice of fasting.  The Bigu, literately meaning “avoid grain”, is a unique Daoist practice, that is, do not eat grain and meat, but not necessarily do not eat anything at all, definitely not a starvation. Understanding this background can dispel the fear of many people about Bigu, and eliminate its psychological burden.

Bigu is not simply stop eating or fasting, definitely not starving stomach. It refers to the way of living by avoiding the grain, avoiding the cooking, and obtaining energy by other alternative methods and technologies, so as to achieve the purpose of detoxification and health, cultivating qi and concentration, and prolonging life.  There are three main ways to avoid grain or Bigu recorded in ancient Chinese literature: information Bigu,  Gulping qi to Bigu and Taking pills to avoid grain.  In addition, there are methods and practices of semi-fasting and fruit-juice fasting, which will not be discussed here.  Information bigu requires a successful qigong master to send out Bigu information and help the students enter into the Bigu state without feeling hunger. Taking pill Bigu refers to the use of special Bigu energy pills, so as to achieve the purpose of unconscious hunger; However, it is said that the secret recipe of truly effective Bigu pills has been lost in the history, and the newly  spread of Bigu pills are sorted out and developed according to the literature records. Sun Simiao’s “A thousand gold formula” contains 54 pieces of Bigu pill recipes. In addition, “Pu ji fang,” “Compendium of Materia Medica” and other traditional Chinese medicine classics have the content of Bigu pills.  Gulping Qi with Qigong is the most popular and the best way to do Bigu. Qigong Bigu refers to the method of absorbing the energy of nature, collecting the energy of the light wave of the universe, and swallowing the qi or essence from the nature through information, qi extraction and mind relaxation.  In the literature unearthed from the Han-dynasty tomb in Changsha, there is a record of the Gulping Qi Bigu for Health. Our Bigu workshop will take Qigong Bigu as the main method, and will  explore the other two methods of Bigu as well.

Main Benefits of Bigu

There are many documented benefits from reduced calorie-intake and fasting, especially in terms of slowing down aging process, detoxifying body, cleansing digest system, and increasing bio-energy balance.  A recent research reported that fasting for 2 days could promote cell regeneration of the immune system. The 2016 Nobel Prize for medicine,  finding the mechanism of autophagy in cells, supports the health benefits of fasting.  Autophagy is the process of utilizing and recycling unnecessary or dysfunctional cellular components—the so-called cellular rubbish which accumulates in cells.   Autophagy becomes especially intensive when an organism is under stress, e.g. when going through fasting. In this case a cell produces energy using its internal resources, that is, cellular rubbish, including pathogenic bacteria.  The Nobel Prize winner’s discovery indicates that abstaining from food and keeping fasts is wholesome—the body truly cleans itself during fasting.

A recent review of fasting studies in scientific literature (Longo & Mattson 2013, Cell Metabolism) came to the conclusion that “fasting has the potential to delay aging and help prevent and treat diseases while minimizing the side effects caused by chronic dietary interventions.”    Scientists have shown a link between long-living calorie-restricted mice and the types of microbes residing in the guts of those mice. The finding, published in 2013 Nature Communications, suggests a novel mechanism of living longer by establishing the right kind of microbes in our gut through a low-calorie diet.

In June 2000, a national conference was hold in Penn State University to explore health benefits and scientific research of  Qigong Bigu with 500+ attendants.  With appropriate guidance and careful monitoring, Qigong fasting (with gulping qi and other qigong exercises) can be a safe and effective way for health and healing, and for boosting outcomes of Qigong practice.  http://www.scribd.com/doc/40294944/Bigu-Conference-Report-PennState-June-2000

Images from 2000 National Conference on Yanxin Qigong and Bigu Manifestation, hold at Pennsylvania State University (June 2000)

Some recent studies (Cheng et al. 2014; Brandhorst et al. 2015) reported that fasting can regenerate the entire immune system, here is how:  Brandhorst et al (2015) claims that “A periodic diet that mimics fasting promotes multi-system regeneration, enhanced cognitive performance, and healthspan. In other word, fasting is probably the most powerful way to activate the body’s self-healing potential.  http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/abstract/S1550-4131(15)00224-7

In summary, the research-supported health benefits of Bigu (fasting) include:

  • Detoxification – especially digestive system
  • Boost immune system (the immune system reboot after 72 hours of fasting)
  • Reduce weight by rebooting metabolic system (not the main goal, but it’s safe and effective way to lose weight)
  • Adjust the spleen and stomach – 80% of those with stomach disease get cured after one bigu practice
  • Beautify face and reduce wrinkling through self-melting, and increased micro-circulation
  • Purify the blood and soften blood vessel (due to increased metabolism and autophasy)
  • Anti-cancer (no food, more oxygen, more body-heat during fasting)
  • Repair the body to get rid of chronic diseases (self-healing & self-regeneration system)
  • Slow down the aging process and return youth (prolong cellular life and live twice as long)
  • Cultivate mind and wisdom – think more clearly and more sensitive after fasting
  • Increase survival ability
  • Build will power and positive energy
  • Best way to start mind-body cultivation and spiritual practice…. (boost your sense of happiness)

Dr. Michael Mosley made a documentary on “Eat, Fast and Live Longer” for BBC. Here is a link to view the entire documentary: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xvdbtt_eat-fast-live-longer-hd_shortfilms  It is not surprised that scientists have long been interested in the relationship between fasting and longevity. 

Highlights of Our Online Bigu Workshop

With years of personal experience and study of Bigu, Dr. Kevin Chen from University of Maryland School of Medicine will offer his unique teaching of Qigong fasting and alternative ways to gain energy through Zoom platform.  The class or workshop will teach (and practice) the following:

  • The basic theory and principles of Qigong fasting,
  • The Mind technique of Bigu fasting (Mindset) — synchronize with the higher power, the immortals and Gods
  • Preparation skills for a fasting (physically and mentally)
  • Information leading to fasting status (信息辟谷)
  • The specific techniques on how to fast, including turtle breathing, skin-breathing meditation, gulping Qi fasting (服气辟谷), Five-element Bigu Cleansing Qigong, Exchange energy with the trees, and a set of fasting Qigong exercises…
  • In-take fasting pill skills
  • Acupressure for fasting and pain-relief
  • How to assess if you are doing it right, and what to do if you feel very hungry
  • How to break the fasting (resume normal eating)
  • Daily Q&A session.

Dr. Chen will share the techniques on how to cleanse and purify your body, including your heart, liver, lung, kidney, and spleen, and lead the daily qigong practice during the training, and explain where the life-energy come from when you are not eating food.  Cleansing your body & blood of toxins helps balancing your energy!  Students have joint Dr. Chen twice a year in the past for this type of training & spiritual practice…. The class will not only make your fasting easier and less suffering, but also share some ancient wisdom on diet and body cleanse in daily life.

Our online Qigong fasting (Bigu) workshops (three times a year) are characterized with support by both scientific research and ancient wisdom; main priority to gulping-qi Bigu techniques, supplemented by information Bigu, and Pill-taking Bigu techniques, and special emphasis on the role of self-healing and mindset, thus minimizing the discomfort in the process of fasting detoxification and psychological reaction, let participants have effective methods, have self-confidence, have fun, have benefits from completion of 3 to 5 days or longer Bigu experience. Meanwhile, the workshop provides a new choice and guarantee for the future of health or wellness, for general mind cultivation, stress management, peace and happiness of life journey.

When: Next Workshop on March 4–7, 2021  (Thursday to Sunday)

  • March 4 (Thursday): 6:30 to 10:00pm (EST)
  • March 5 (Friday):  10am to 12noon (EST, qigong practice) and  7:00–9:30pm (EST, Lecture + Q&A) note: we delay the starting time so that people from Western coast can catch the class easily)
  • March 6 (Saturday): 10am to 12noon (EST, qigong practice) and  7:00–9:30pm (EST, Lecture + Q&A )
  • March 7 (Sunday):  10:00–1:00pm (EST)

Note: in case that you have to miss 1 or 2 class due to work or other commitment, we will have video-recording of the class available for you to catch up at a later point.

Where:  Online Workshop with Zoom Platform

You need a computer (either desk-top or laptop)  with multi-media (camera, speaker and microphone) or a iPad (or something like that) to effectively attend the video conference for qigong practice and for attending PPT presentation.  In case that you did not have a good computer with multimedia, a smart phone is required to do it through Zoom platform.

Download Zoom APP from:   https://zoom.us/ 

Cost & Registration:

  • Early-registration before Feb 20: $200 ($130 for repeated students)
  • Regular registration after Feb 20: $250 ($160 for repeated students)
  • $40 minimum deposit required (non-refundable) when registering
  • 10% discount offered to UMB/UMROI employees, students & seniors 65+
  • Pre-registration required, class is limited to 36 new participants to ensure quality of teaching and more interaction (Repeated students do not count to the 36 limitation).
  • Group discount: a group of 2 (register together) get 10% off; group of 3 or more, 15% off. (Please register with deposit first, then figure out what will be the final due).
  • Registration closes by March 3, or when class limit is reached. No drop-in student is allowed.

Click HERE to download the Bigu_Registration_2021; return the signed registration form with payment to register (Note: limited up to 36 paid participants, so please register earlier for your spot).

Or you can register online with credit card by click the following link:


About the Instructor: Dr. Kevin Chen:

Dr. Chen is currently a visiting professor at Shenzhen University in China, an adjunct faculty at the Rutgers University Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and at University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is the deputy secretary-general of the World Academic Society of Medical Qigong. Professor Chen has long been engaged in the research and application of medical qigong in the United States, with a focus on the role of TCM wellness and qigong cultivation in stress management, drug addiction, and cancer rehabilitation. He is the associated editor for the college textbook “Chinese Medical Qigong” (London: Singing Dragon, 2010)

Professor Chen has studied with several Taoist masters and practiced Taoist Bigu for many years. Since 1999, he has practiced full Bigu for 2-3 times a year regularly; each time lasting 7-14 days, and the longest time lasting 21 days (he went to work and attends classes as usual). And He has taught Qigong Bigu for many times to share the Taoist spirit of the Bigu technique and methods. The characteristics of professor Chen’s teaching are as follows: taking scientific research as the foundation, deep knowledge with simple concepts; Start from the mindset, simple and easy; by integrating all kinds of effective methods and techniques together, it is highly operationable to minimize the pain or suffering during Bigu, so as to maximize the health benefits.

Note:  Given the fact that the wide spread of coronavirus, and travel could be a major barrier for many who are interested in Qigong fasting,  We have changed our previously planned fasting workshop into Online Workshop.   We will set-up the Zoom video conference room in advance, use both camera and shared screen to let people from remote sites to attend the entire fasting workshop.  If you have been thinking of getting some formal training in qigong fasting, this is your opportunity!  Please contact Dr. Chen for details after registration.

Note: The conditions that may not be appropriate to go through energetic fasting (Bigu) at this moment:

  • Those who is currently having psychotic disorders, or a history of psychotic  illness.
  • Extreme physical weakness, or those who are so ill that cannot take care of themselves.
  • Patients with following severe symptoms: internal bleeding or vomiting blood, ulcer perforation, serious infarction particularly, severe heart disease and angina pectoris, severe kidney disease, and the stage 2-3 pulmonary tuberculosis.
  • The patients who have long-term use of insulin or epinephrine, or the liver, kidney and other organ transplant recipients.
  • Growing children (under 16) and adults with less than 85 lb. in weight.

Please email Dr. Kevin Chen at Qigong4us at hotmail.com  or Jeri Hemerlein  at jerihemerleinqigong at gmail.com for more information if you have any questions.  Thanks!

You may join us in the FREE Facebook group for discussion and updates:


This workshop will become part of our yearly online Qigong training and teaching in Maryland as Dr. Chen is currently living and working in China now.  You may also be interested in Dr. Chen’s Online Weekly Qigong for Health class (go to http://yang-sheng.com/?p=12020 ). With 20+ years of personal experience and study of Qigong Bigu, Dr. Kevin Chen will offer his qigong training and teaching at Baltimore area once a while when the condition permits, including the yearly fasting workshop. The future online Qigong fasting (Bigu) Workshops are scheduled on the following dates:

  • Summer Workshop: July 8-11, 2021
  • Fall Workshop: November 4-7, 2021
  • Please reserve your time accordingly if you plan to attend….
Eastover Resort, where the onsite workshop will take place…

Selected Testimony from previous participants:

“Since the fast, I have only taken 3 half doses of my blood pressure medication.  My pressure now runs  between 115-135/51-75  without medication…..  I lost my taste for high carb/high sugar foods that I know are not good for me.  — M.C.

“I liked the fasting workshop online. It felt like a refresher course for me and an inspiration to practice consistently.”

“I really enjoyed the BiGu class. It was a great success! Thank you so much Kevin!” “I lost 10 lb. from 131 to 121 although it was not my goal.               My blood pressure is lower than before. From 134-130/86-85 to 125-118/84-76. Every day is different. I feel good and lighter.” ” I did it for 7 days instead of 4 days. It’s good. It’s not as difficult as I thought would be. I will do it again in the future for self-detoxification. It’s a great way.” —– P. Y.

“I felt incredibly at peace, happy, energized, healthy and upbeat. No chatter in my brain.  I felt energized and comfortable in my skin and felt like I could finally get enough air.  My stomach stopped hurting…. The shoulder, neuropathy pain, and tingling in the feet and hands went away.  Afterwards, I was shocked that I was able to increase my range of stretch on my radiated side much more.  The skin on my face looked bright and felt extra soft.  I also noticed that some stubborn keloids that I had on my lower left abdomen healed in the center so that I had an inch of healthy healing in the middle of a very long keloid scar….  I felt wonderful during the fasting.”  — F.H.

“This has changed my mind about water fasting.  I have fasted with fresh vegetable juice many times before; now I can clearly see definite benefits of water fasting.  The teachers were very informative, they helped me to release fears!” — C.W.

“Very interesting challenges. It lets you get in touch with yourself, appreciation for water, breathing and qigong exercises, and their role in healing…. (my) alleges were less, feet were better, and feel clear headed.” — M.F.

“Digestion better; mindfulness improved; meditation more focused…. If take the principles offered in the class, a person’s health will vastly improve.” — R.D.

“Very nice experience… My joint pain in hips & shoulders has been much less.” — P.T.

“I felt this fast was extremely successful!  It was my first time and I actually fasted for a week, because I felt so good during the fasting.  I had a wonderful time and it was mind-opening.  It broke a lot of my assumptions about food and the body and was a lot of fun in the group setting.” — F.H.

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