The Crane Exercise

How to Rub Your Stomach Away

The Crane Exercise

Crane Exercise - Wading Cranes
So, you'd like to lose weight, cure constipation or diarrhoea and get a good night's sleep?

Traditional Chinese Medicine has an exercise prescription for you. While western medicine is happy to accept exercise as a treatment for muscle and joint problems,  it is much more sceptical about using exercise to treat internal organs. The early Chinese sages had no such qualms and there are many Qi Gong exercises designed to resolve problems associated with the heart, lungs, liver  – even the spleen.

The Crane exercise  focuses on the digestive system and was named after the wading bird because it appears to be constantly stimulating its abdominal area as it alternately folds first one leg and then the other into its belly.

The Crane Exercise has two principal components – a slow, circular rub­bing motion, and the visualising of heat and energy filling the lower part of the  body.


The exercise should be performed twice a day, or more frequently if you wish. The best times to do it are the first thing in the  morning and then again just before you go to sleep.

  • To relieve constipation only rub in a clockwise direction
  • To relieve diarrhoea only rub anti-clockwise
  • For weight loss and good sleep, rub in both directions

Practising for two minutes at a time is enough for it to be ef­fective, and if you do it every day for 2 weeks then you should see the result.

How to do the Crane Exercise

Physical Part
  • Lie flat on your back. Relax.
  • Put the palm of your dominant hand on your navel
  • Rub clock­wise from the centre (from right to left) in small circles
  • Gradually increase the size of the circles until the upper and lower  limits of the stomach and abdomen are being rubbed
  • Then, reverse it – rubbing anti-clockwise in smaller and smaller circles until you are back to the center of the navel.
  • Rub slowly with a gentle pressure
  • Repeat as often as you wish

How to do the Crane Exercise

Mindful Part

The second, and equally important part of the Crane Exercise, is the use of visualisation. As you rub, try to visualise heat or energy warming and brightening the whole area. Imagine a small ball of light in the centre of your navel – blue, green, yellow or white. All of these are considered healing colours.

Then visualise the light growing larger and brighter as you hand moves over your abdominal area. Try to visualise the block­ages in your intestines breaking up and passing out of the body. Try to imagine the cells of fat actu­ally melting away.

Further Reading

If you would like to find out more about the Crane Exercise:

Read Dr Stephen Chang’s booklet:  How to Rub Your Stomach Away

Learn more about the benefits of Qi Gong exercises through our Courses

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