Nei Gong

What is Nei Gong?

Nei Gong, which roughly translated means ‘internal work’, is a wonderful series of meditative movements which connect the body and mind through the continuous stretching, expanding, opening and closing of the body. Cultivated by the Taoists in Ancient China, these graceful exercises were passed down orally from Master to student, remaining hidden for centuries. As a result they are not widely known in the West.

What makes Nei Gong

The movements are unique and were practiced to promote longevity and prevent disease, strengthening the immune system, and increasing core strength. With regular practice, in time Nei Gong becomes a bridge between body and mind and spirit, bringing balance and harmony on every level, be it physical, emotional, mental or spiritual.

Is it like any other discipline?

Nei Gong is considered ‘the parent of’ Tai Chi and Chi Gong and follows the water tradition. This is a discipline based on sinking, cooling, soothing, gentleness, relaxing the body in order to allow it to stretch, working with the flow of energy, not against. We take a journey inside our bodies via gentle but powerful, graceful and artistic movements, to transform our energy wherever it may be blocked in order to restore a flowing harmony within. Some blocked energy we may be aware of, some we may not. We will just feel that things are flowing better, something’s shifted, once these blockages begin to dissolve with regular practice of the Nei Gong movements.

Nei Gong is a form of energy management

Nei gong can be considered a form of energy management. Imagine you spend all the money you have in your bank account. You may find yourself having to set up an overdraft and this will usually be accompanied by an interest charge. Now imagine your energy bank account, spending your energy instead of your money. In this energy account, being stressed works against the body, losing you energy and, when drained, it begins to deplete the other systems, compromising your immune system. Energy, ‘your overdraft’ is then borrowed from these systems, with interest, as in fatigue or weariness, or ultimately illness. Just like money in a reserve account can be there for that rainy day, by increasing your core reserve of energy your internal wealth can be increased, building a stronger immune system to fight off potential illness. Modern day living in the fast lane calls for substantial energy reserves; doing these gentle exercises regularly helps to build up our core energy to restore the balance.

Benefits of Nei Gong

  • Builds up core strength
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Builds a deeper awareness of what is happening inside you
  • Helps you to get in touch with your self
  • Relieves stress on the emotional, mental and physical levels
  • Works on back problems, posture, alignment
  • Tones and firms the body
  • Slows down the chattering monkey mind
  • Helps to maintain a healthy weight
  • Increases mental clarity, concentration and focus
  • Produces relaxation and releasing of muscular tension
  • Helps to restore self confidence
  • Encourages you to connect with your body and learn your limits
  • Creates an internal organ massage
  • Cultivates patience, practice and perseverance
  • Regular practice of these movements is an investment in your future as Nei Gong keeps you flexible into old age

Nei Gong Classes

What does a Nei Gong class consist of?

Classes begin with warming and holding exercises called Jing Gong, each collecting energy. In order to circulate this energy, we then practice one of several Dong Gong, each of which is a very individual and continuous dynamic movement. This flow of circulating energy known as Qi or Chi, is a unique form of life force which flows through the meridian channels (energy pathways) to nourish and support the organs of the body, leading to an increased sense of well-being.

Each Dong Gong is practised for several weeks for students to fully experience and enjoy. They cover a range of movements from lying down, sitting cross legged, standing.

The gentle but powerful movements are practiced within the limits of your own body’s ability. There is no competition with other students, only cooperating by tuning in and feeling what’s happening inside your own body. Listening to your body’s subtle messages. Each of us may have energy blocked in different places in our body, which makes this journey of clearing your pathways unique to you.

All of this we explore in a Nei Gong class. We share and understand the movements more deeply with mindful relaxation, breathing awareness, and guided meditation to bring you further in touch with your body, mind and spirit.

Students of all ages with historic or current injuries, or disabilities which can prevent lying or sitting on a mat, may benefit from Nei Gong practice. In these cases we gently explore the range of movement possible and work within those parameters, working with the energy flow, not forcing the body, but opening slowly. In this regard it is recommended to begin with one to one sessions.

Classes are kept small – generally 6-8 students – to ensure that full care and attention can be given to each.

These are held at our studio ‘The Sanctuary’, in Dorking, Surrey, in person and by zoom.

Please refer to the class schedule.

Knowing your limit

The heart of Nei Gong practice is the Rule of Moderation. You perform these movements to say 70% capacity, so as not to put your body under pressure, and instead move with the flow of your energy. In the water tradition this would imply you try not to push upstream against the current, as aiming to achieve 100% has a natural tendency to produce tension and stress. In turn this may cause your muscles to contract and affect the flow of blood and fluids in the body. It’s a bit like the hare and the tortoise story from Aesop’s Fables – the hare starts at full speed and uses up all his energy to get ahead and the tortoise paces himself, takes his time, and cultivates patience to reach the goal first. However, practising regularly within your own comfort zone will encourage these tensions to ease and slowly disappear.

This tradition is based on the water element, sinking the energy, relaxing the body in order to stretch. Although this form of Nei Gong is gentle and practised slowly, the movements are nevertheless smooth and powerful.

Is it suitable for everyone?

Nei Gong movements are suitable from teenage to old age, though it is wise to practice regularly to yield the accumulative benefits.


Since starting Nei Gong with Heather I have noticed a change in my ability to switch off from stress and just be still in the moment. This is a wonderful tool for bringing more calm and contentment into your life. Heather is an empathic, dedicated teacher and full of wisdom.

Angela Ashcroft

As someone who had been through a serious trauma, the quiet power of Nei Gong helped me to find an inner calm through meditative exercise and energy work. Throughout the wave of Covid lockdowns, I was able to attend remotely on Zoom, and found the communal pratice very powerful. Heather is a wonderful teacher - so generous with her knowledge, calming and confidence building.

Caroline Holford