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Chinese name
Chinese 丹田
Literal meaning cinnabar or red field
Thai name
Thai ตันเถียน
RTGS dantian
Korean name
Hangul 단전
Japanese name
Kanji 丹田
Hiragana たんでん

Dantian, dan t'ian, dan tien or tan t'ien is loosely translated as "elixir field", "sea of qi", or simply "energy center". Dantians are important focal points for meditative and exercise techniques such as qigong, martial arts such as t'ai chi ch'uan, and in traditional Chinese medicine.[1][2]


Traditionally, a dantian is considered to be a center of qi or life force energy.[1][2] The dantians are important points of reference in neidan, qigong, neigong, tao yin, Taoist sexual practices and other self-cultivation practices of exercise, breathing, and meditation, as well as in martial arts and in traditional Chinese medicine. The lower dantian is particularly important as the focal point of breathing technique as well as the center of balance and gravity.[3]

Taoist and Buddhist teachers often instruct their students to center the mind in the navel or lower dantian. This is believed to aid control of thoughts and emotions. Acting from the dantian is considered to be related to higher states of awareness or samadhi.

The Taoist concept of dantians as energy centers is similar to the Indian yoga concept of chakras as key points through where prana is stored (see also nadis). The major difference, however, is that Taoist dantians are the major energetic storage mechanisms whereas the yogic chakras are not so much storage centers, but energetic vortices which act as intake and output ports. Many traditions consider the dantiens and the chakras to be separate, albeit cooperative energetic mechanisms.

Major dantians[edit]

Different schools of thought categorize dantians in various manners. Three main dantians are typically emphasized:[1][2]

  • Lower dantian (下丹田, Xia Dantian): below the navel (about three finger widths below and two finger widths behind the navel), also called "the golden stove",[4][clarification needed] associated with cultivating life energy (qi) and with vital essence or sexual energy (jing);
  • Middle dantian (中丹田, Zhong Dantian): at the level of the heart, associated with storing life energy (qi) and with respiration and health of the internal organs, in particular the thymus gland;
  • Upper dantian (上丹田, Shang Dantian): at the forehead between the eyebrows or third eye, associated with the energy of consciousness and spirit (shen) and with the pineal gland.[3][5]

Importance of the lower dantian[edit]

The term dantian used by itself usually refers to the lower dantian, which is considered to be the foundation of rooted standing, breathing, and body awareness in qigong and martial arts. The lower dantian has been described to be "like the root of the tree of life".[2]

In speaking of the lower of the three energy centers, the term dantian is often used interchangeably with the Japanese word hara (腹; Chinese: ) which means simply "belly". In Chinese, Korean, and Japanese traditions, it is considered the physical center of gravity of the human body and is the seat of one's internal energy (qi). A master of calligraphy, swordsmanship, tea ceremony, martial arts, among other arts, is held in the Japanese tradition to be "acting from the hara".

The lower dantian corresponds to the yoga concept of the swadhisthana chakra. In yoga philosophy, it is thought to be the seat of prana that radiates outwards to the entire body.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Yang, Jwing-Ming. (1989). The root of Chinese Chi kung: the secrets of Chi kung training. Yang's Martial Arts Association. ISBN 0-940871-07-6. 
  2. ^ a b c d Cohen, K. S. (1999). The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing. Random House of Canada. ISBN 0-345-42109-4. 
  3. ^ a b T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Meditation by Da Liu, page 92 - Routledge and Keegan Paul 1987 ISBN 0-14-019217-4
  4. ^ Taoist Yoga by Lu K'uan Yu page 10. (Rider , 1970)
  5. ^ The doctrine of the elixir by R. B. Jefferson Coombe Springs Press 1982 chapter 4. The Archaic Anatomy of Individual Organs
  6. ^ T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Meditation by Da Liu, pages 91-92 - Routledge and Keegan Paul 1987 ISBN 0-14-019217-4

External links[edit]

^ Dantian Qigong video course on QigongJournal.com