The Five-Animal Exercise

Life relies on exercises which are good for health and longevity. Long time ago, the Chinese had learnt to build health through exercises. Enjoying the longest history in Chinathe Five-Animal Exercise is one of the healthcare methods that are most-widely spread in the folk life.


The Five-Animal Exercise (Wu Qin Xi) is a set of bionic exercise imitating animal movements and manners with disease prevention, medical treatment and vitality promotion as its major functions. Qin means beast and generally referred to animals in ancient times. Xi referred to activities such as singing, dancing and acrobatics in ancient times and here specifically refers to special movements. The famous TCM physician, Hua Tuo (AD 141-208) claimed that: "the human body needs physical exercises but must not exert itself to the extreme. Motions promote digestion, absorption, and blood- and qi-circulate smoothly has to be well designed." He thus devised movements that mimicked the movements of five animals: the tiger, deer, bear, monkey and bird.               


The creatures in the universe, big as the lion and tiger, small as the ant and cockroach, have their own unique way of survival. Though the human race lives on the earth with prevailing power, we have our shortcomings. Hence the ancient Chinese created the "Five-animal Exercise" by imitating the movements and manners of various animals to enrich and perfect their own surviving skills.  


According to Hua Tuo, the vigorous tiger movements help to strengthen the muscles; the flexible deer movements help to unfold the tendons and joints, the bear movements helps to relax the upper body and induces the blood and qi to flow downward; The monkey movements give agility to the limbs and makes the joints supple; and the bird movements expand the chest and help regulate circulation in the jingluo (a Traditional Chinese Medicine term means the path of running qi and blood).


It is also said that the Five-Animal Exercise promotes all five zang-organs (liver, heart, spleen, lung and kidney, and is suitable for individuals with chronic conditions. You don’t have to perform all five animal movements at once; you can pick one or two for regular practice.