Chinese Healing Exercises, 5



Five Animals’ Frolic

pp. 163-169


Seasonal & Immortal Practices

pp. 169-176


Inner Alchemy

pp. 177-180


Eight Brocades

pp. 180-183


Sleep Exercises

pp. 184-189


Tai-ji Quan & S^ao-lin Gon-fu

pp. 189-197



5. (pp. 162-97) "Modern Praecursors".

(5.1) p. 164 the 5 Animals’ Frolic (wu-qin xi) [in modern sequence] : its correlations











lower back




joints & wrists




"calm mind"




"whole body"


(5.1) p. 164 exercises associated with four of these animals, in the Dao-yin Tu [p. 238 : "(Exercise Chart), a Mawangdui manuscript that contains forty-four color illustrations of ... therapeutic exercises ... . The chart is ... translated in Harper 1998, 310-327."] [p. 36 : This is the 3rd of 3 texts "on a silk manuscript ... in the lacquer box in tomb 3".]

"Bear Amble (#41)

... walking ... with arms swinging."

"Bird Stretch (#32)

... bending forward with hands on the floor and head raised".

"Gibbon Jump (#40)

... extending the arms diagonally up and down".

"Double Deer" (#34)

"raising both arms and pushing up, then bending forward as far as possible".

p. 164 "The Yinshu, moreover, has three separate Tiger moves : ... (#31) ... (#35)".

(5.1) p. 165 origin of the 5 Animals’ Frolic

[a statement by Hou Tuo (of the 2nd century Chr.E.) to his disciple Wu Pu, as quoted from the San-guo Z^i ("Record of the Three Kingdoms") 29.2a; see also Hou Han-s^u 82B.2739] "Daoists ... imitate the movements of

the bear, which hangs itself head down from a tree, and of

the owl, which keeps turning its head in different ways. ...

I myself have developed a series of exercises which I name the Five Animals’ Frolic. The five animals are tiger, deer, bear, monkey, and bird."

(5.1) pp. 165-6 variations of the 5 Animals’ Frolic




In descriptions of the Frolic from the Tan dynasty, "most are done from a squatting position, with only the first part of the bird executed while standing."


"the deer involves remaining quiet and turning the neck to look back,

the bear stretches the muscles of the lower back,

the monkey is playful ..., and

the bird involves a lifting motion".

(5.1) p. 166 the 5 Animals’ Frolic, according to the Yan-xin Yan-min Lu ("On Nourishing Inner Nature and Extending Life", DZ 838; Yun-ji Qi-qian 32.1a-24b) 2.7b-8a; and (exactly the same words) the Lao-jun Yan-s^en Jue ("Lord Lao’s Instructions on Nourishing Life", DZ 821) 1a-2a

__ Frolic



"Move forward ... while raising the opposite leg back and up into the air."


"Extend the neck forward and look back over your shoulder".


"Look straight up, then lift your head while stomping down alternately with your feet".


"Holding onto a horizontal bar, hang straight down by the arms ... . ... Next, drape the legs over the same bar, hang down".


"Stand up straight, place both hands on the floor, and lift up one leg at a time, letting it soar upward while stretching the shoulders and lifting the eyebrows."

p. 167 This series is recommended for "female practitioners" in the Wu-qin Wu Gon-fa Tu-s^uo ("Illustrated Explanation of the Five Animals’ Dance Practice"), found in the Nei-wai Gon Tu-s^uo Ji-yao ("Collected Essentials and Illustrated Descriptions of Inner and Outer Practices") 2.10:183-198.

(5.1) p. 168 the 5 Animals’ Frolic, according to the C^i-fen Sui ("Marrow of the Red Phoenix", by Z^ou Lu:jin; dated Chr.E. 1578) 63-67 ["Unlike the Tang version, all the exercises in this form are practiced standing up" while holding the breath.]


__ Frolic

bodily stance

movement of qi



"lift both hands as if you were supporting a thousand pounds of iron ... . ... .

... make the spirit energy descend from above. Do this until you become aware of a rumbling sound like thunder in the belly."



"lean slowly from side to side ... . ... .

... the qi enters deep into the sides of the body and resonates strongly in the waist and joints."



"turning back ... head ... . ... .

... the entire body, like an integrated heavenly pillar, shakes and trembles."



"hold a tree branch in one hand and a piece of fruit in the other. ... .

... tighten the spirit energy and swallow it to guide in into your belly."



"raise both hands into the air and lean forward".

"move the qi up to the top of the head."

(5.2) pp. 174-6 (Table 3) the 48 immortals’ exercises [FS^ = Fu-s^ou Dan-s^u ("Elixir Book on Long Life and Good Fortune", in Berk 1979, 71-117); Z^X = Z^u-xian Dao-yin Tu ("Illustrated Exercises of the Various Immortals"), contained in the Nei-wai Gon Tu-s^uo Ji-yao (Dao-zan Jin-hua 2.10a) 1-86]


FS^ #

Z^X Immortal




Tai-qin Zon-s^i

rub belly



Li Lao-jun

hands on knees



Xu S^en-wen

hands to opposite shoulders, look L/R



Li Tie-guai

extend arms fore and back



He Xian-gu

hug knees into belly



Bai Yu-c^an

on belly, lift limbs off ground



Han Z^on-li

heavenly drum (click teeth)



Cao Xian-gu

tongue up, eyen up



Qiu C^an-c^un

extend legs R/L



Ma Dan-yan

warm hands, rub eyen, hands on chest



Z^an Zi-yan

raise arms to sky



Huan Hua-gu

on side, rub abdomen, press legs



Yin Qin-he

on back, leg over knee




rub one foot on other sole



Z^an Z^en-mu

hands on knees



Wei Bo-yan

one fist on chest, other on knee



Xue Dao-guan

visualize qi in ailing area



Ge Hon

hands at chest, push out/in



Wan Yu-yan

up on toes, fists on belly



Ma Gu

push weight R/L



Z^an Guo-lao

rub belly and inner thighs



C^en Zi-ran

on side, knees up, hands on legs



S^i Xin-lin

warm hands, rub elixir field



Han Xian-xi

bend forward, elbows over head



Z^ao Lin-nu:

extend arm, massage elbow



Lu: C^un-yan

hands over temples



C^en Xi-yi

on side, press nostril and coccyx



Fu-yu Di-jun

as if to shoot bow



Xu S^en-zu

twist torso R/L



C^en Ni-wan

hands behind ears, rub neck



Cao Guo-qiu

hand on wall, raise leg



Z^ao S^an-zao

hold toes, lift legs, move R/L



Xu-jin Tian-s^i

on side, leg over knee, touch pubis



Su Xuan-xu

grab toes, move feet up and down



Gao Xian-xian

cross legs, arms front/back



Fu Yuan-xu

warm hands, rub top of head



Li Hon-z^i

cross legs, bend forward, cross arms



Li Tie-guai

hands on stick, push up on toes



Yu-z^en S^an-ren

warm hands, rub kidney area



Li Ye-po

push on thighs, bend forward



Lan Cai-he

hands in fists, bend forward



Xia Yun-fen

crawl on all fours, twist R/L



He Tai-gu

raise arms to sky {cf. #11}



Liu Xi-gu

extend arms back/forth, twist



Su Bu-er

hands on wall, push leg back {cf. #31}



C^an Tian-yan

interlace hands, bend head to chest



Don-fan S^uo

massage toes




cross legs, arms behind

Berk 1979 = William R Berk : Chinese Healing Arts : Internal Kung-Fu. Culver City (CA) : Peace Pr, 1979.

(5.3) p. 177 combined system of inner alchemy

"Inner alchemy ... combines

the system of operative alchemy described by Ge Hong of the fourth century;

the practice of visualizing body gods central to Highest Clarity;

the transformation of sexual and other gross energies essential to methods of qi-absorption".

(5.3) pp. 177-8 schools of thought within inner alchemy

p. 177

"the Zhenyuan ... (Perfect Prime) school of the late Tang, which focused mainly on ... ecstatic excursions while integrating ... the insight practice of inner observation".


"the Zhong-Lu: school of the tenth century, named after the two immortals Zhongli Quan ... and Lu: Dongbin ..., which focused [prae]dominantly on physiological practices, working with energy exercises and embryo respiration, and gaining fame mainly through the accomplishment of miracles".


"the so-called Southern school (Nanzong ...) ..., which sprang up in southern China in the eleventh century and placed great emphasis on cosmological speculation, also ... making heavy use of the newly arising thunder rites".


"the Quanzhen ... or Complete Perfection, founded in twelfth-century north China by Wang Chongyang ..., which was ascetic and monastic in organization and worked [prae]dominantly with interior voyages and the inherent transformation of the self into cosmic dimensions".

p. 178

"As the centuries passed, further schools created yet different forms of inner alchemical practice, including entire systems specifically for women".

[fn. 7 : "Later developments are documented in a large variety of texts ... . Prominent examples include ... Esposito 1998 ... . For ... women’s practice, see ... Valussi 2003."]

Esposito 1998 = Monica Esposito : "The Different Versions of the Secret of the Golden Flower and Their Relationship with the Longmen School". TRANSACTIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF EASTERN STUDIES 43:90-109.

Valussi 2003 = Elena Valussi : Beheading the Red Dragon a History of Female Inner Alchemy. PhD diss, School of Oriental and African Studies, U of London.

(5.3) pp. 178-80 the 3 successive stages of the Great Work of inner alchemy [p. 180, fn. 8 : "The same outline is also found in the Zunsheng baijian, translated in Berk [1979], 48-56, as well as in Xiuling yaozhi."]

p. 178 "practitioners typically pass through a series of three transformations :

from essence (jing ...) to energy (qi ...),

from energy to spirit (shen ...), and

from spirit to the Dao,

consciously and actively reversing human gestation and cosmic creation (... Skar and Pregadio 2000, 488-490)."

{Such reversals are likewise characteristic of Tantrism.}






"They begin by focusing on essence, the tangible form of qi that sinks down periodically from its original center


in the Ocean of Qi in men and in the Cavern of Qi in women,

manifesting as semen and menstrual blood respectively.


To revert essence back to qi, men allow a feeling of arousal to occur, then guide the flowing energy back up the spine and into the head, thus "subduing the white tiger."

Women, when they feel menstrual blood sink down from the Cavern of Qi, ... visualize it rising upward and transforming into qi. ... this will cause menstruation to cease, the "decapitation of the red dragon" (Despeux and Kohn 2003, 221-223)."


They then circulate the newly purified qi in the Microcosmic Orbit, guiding it along the central channels of the torso and opening a series of passes along the way. ... this qi-circulation eventually leads to the manifestation of a concentrated pearl of primordial qi --


newly formed in men,

latently present from birth in women. ...



The second stage is the same for men and women. It focused on the transformation of purified qi into spirit. The pearl of dew is developed into the golden flower .. . ...



As Zhang Boduan says in his ... Awakening to Perfection,


In the crescent-moon furnace, jade blossoms grow;

{A "green flower" (CGDSM 8:64) is carried by Isis, i.e. 3St, the goddess who is assisted by H.Q3t the magic frog-goddess : cf. the "spirits like frogs" (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 16:13).}


In the vermilion crucible, mercury flows freely along.

Only after harmonizing them ...

Can you plant the central pearl to


gradually ripen. (Verse 4)

{"the harvest of the earth is ripe." (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 15:15)}


The lightning of true water ... thunders ...;

{"And there were ... lightnings" (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 16:18) for her "that sittetth upon many waters" (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 17:1).}


True fire arises from Mount Kunlun ... . {Mt. Kun-lun is the abode of goddess Hsi Wan-mu.}

{The "Whore" (goddess) of Babulon "shall be utterly burned with fire" (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 18:8).}


The two restored ...

Make the elixir ... pervade the body with its fragrance. (Verse 13)


... the pearl opens to give rise to the golden flower,

{cf. "pearls" (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 18:12) "decked with gold" (Ibid., 18:16).}


the core of the immortal embryo in the lower cinnabar field. Once the embryo starts to grow, adepts ... nourish it for ten months with embryonic respiration. In addition to nurturing the embryo, this practice also makes the adept increasingly independent of ... air. ...



Adepts then proceed to the third stage. The as yet semimaterial body of the embryo is transformed into the pure spirit body of the immortals ... . ... the embryo has to undergo several phases.


First it ... undergoes a spiritual bath

{This "bath" = the "many waters" (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 19:6).}


by moving up along the spine and exiting through the Hundred Meeting (Baihui ...) point at the top of the head, which is now called Heavenly Gate (Tianguan ...).

{This Hundred Meeting = "they which are called unto the marriage supper" (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 19:9).}


The first exiting of the spirit embryo ...

{"This is the First Resurrection." (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 20:5)}


is accompanied by the perception of a deep inner rumbling, like a clap of thunder {or rather, like unto rolling-thundre}.

{For this 1st Resurrection, S` is cast down (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 20:2-3) from heaven : "I beheld S` as lightning fall from Heaven." (Euangelion according to Loukas 10:18)}


When the Heavenly Gate opens, a white smoky

{This "white smoky essence" = the "great white throne" (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 20:11) for the 2nd Resurrection, which is akin to this [impliedly the 2nd] exiting of the spirit embryo.}



essence can be seen hovering above the adept. The spirit passes through the top of the head


and begins to communicate with the celestials ... (Despeux and Kohn 2003, 237). Once the embryo has been born, it grows through a further ... "nursing for three years." Gradually getting used to its new powers, the embryo moves faster and travels farther away until it can go far and wide without any limitation. As the spirit enters into its cosmic ventures, the adept exhibits supernatural powers, including the ability to be in two place at once ..., to know past and future, to divine people’s thoughts ... . ... Eventually, ... the adept, whose body is ... transformed into pure light, overcomes life and death and melts into cosmic emptiness (Despeux and Kohn 2003, 243)."

Skar & Pregadio 2000 = Lowell Skar & Fabrizio Pregadio : "Inner Alchemy (Neidan)". In :- Livia Kohn (editrix) : Daoism Handbook. Leiden : Brill. pp. 464-97.

Despeux & Kohn 2003 = Catherine Despeux & Livia Kohn : Women in Daoism. Cambridge (MA) : Three Pines Pr.

CGDSM = THE COMPLETE GOLDEN DAWN SYSTEM OF MAGIC*aCp1ANbtGCS/TheCompleteGoldenDawnSystemofMagicVol.8.pdf


Livia Kohn : Chinese Healing Exercises : the Tradition of Daoyin. A Latitude 20 Bk, U of HI Pr, Honolulu, 2008.