Practice Lifting the Sky to Lift Your Mood

Did You Know… that adding one simple exercise to your daily routine can powerfully lift depression, and even change your life?

A low mood, if ignored, can lead to serious problems, including clinical depression and a number of poor health consequences, including:

 Aches and pains
 Chronic fatigue
 Decreased interest in sex
 Decreased appetite
 Lack of deep sleep

Depression can also leave a trail of destruction in relationships and jobs while robbing its sufferers of joy and meaning.

That’s why it’s crucial to take action when low mood strikes.  Unfortunately, when you’re low, it can be impossible sustain motivation for more than a few minutes.  That’s why an exercise called “Lifting the Sky,” which takes only 30 to 120 seconds of effort, can be the perfect antidote.

A Powerfully Simple Exercise 

“Lifting the Sky” is easy to learn and perform at home.  It comes from a powerful Chinese healing tradition known as qigong (pronounced chee gong).  Qigong has been extensively studied by Western researchers, with very strong evidence of its powerful effects against many of our most feared health conditions, including cancer.


What is Qigong?

Qigong is a preventive and self-healing art within Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Qigong uses breathing techniques, meditation, and gentle movement to cleanse, circulate, and strengthen your body’s “qi” (energy). 

“Lifting the Sky” is the first exercise in 2 of the most famous Qigong sequences in the world:

  • The 18 Lohan Hands, taught by the great Bodhidharma
  • The 8 Pieces of Brocade taught by General Yue Fe

Because of its placement in these 2 qigong sequences, “Lifting the Sky” is widely believed to be the most practiced qigong exercise in the word.  Many qigong masters hail it as the single best health exercise ever invented.

How to Perform “Lifting the Sky” 

Commit to spend 2 minutes a day on the following routine, and if that is more than you can manage, you could even scale back to 30 seconds (about three repetitions).  Work up to more if you can, but even 30 seconds should bring you noticeable rewards within a month.

Many tutorials for Lifting the Sky can be found online.  Jacqueline Marshall, a licensed clinical psychologist in Illinois, outlines the following steps this way:


  • Stand with your feet close together, nose and toes pointing forward, arms and hands relaxed at your side.  Relax your jaw, shoulders and chest.
  • Bring your hands in front of your hips/thighs, palms down (turned toward the ground), fingers of each hand pointing toward the fingers of the other hand.  Arms should be comfortably straight, keep a little space between the fingers.  While your body remains upright, your neck/head tips down so your nose points at your hands.
  • Breathe in through your nose as you:
  • Lift your straight arms forward and up until your hands are above your head, palms facing the sky.
  • Follow the movement of your hands with your nose (your head will be tilting comfortably back when hands are overhead).
  • Stretch gently from the heels through your hands (lift the sky).
  • Breathe gently out through your mouth as you:
  • Relax your wrists and let your arms drop gently to each side, as a bird lowering its wings.
  • Your neck returns to its starting position with nose facing forward, arms and hands relaxed at your side.

Repeat the cycle.

There should be no more than a slight pause between the 4 steps, according to Marshall, who says recommends doing this every day for 30 days to reap excellent benefits.


Even Better Benefits With a Teacher

Eventually, you may even want to learn this exercise from a qigong teacher, who can provide instruction that goes beyond movement and breath to the actual flow of energy.  However, until if or when you decide to find a teacher, you should be able to improve your health and vitality practicing this simple but powerful exercise on your own.