Five Animals Qi Gong
Wu Qin Xi
Developed in 145 - 208, Wu Qin Xi uses imitations of animals as a basis for Qi Gong practice. The 5 animals are; tiger, deer, bear, monkey and bird. View this webpage for a collection of youtube videos showing the Five Animal Frolics routine.
We imitate the characteristics, spirit and physical movements of each animal for mental balance and physical ease, specifically aiding respiration, digestion, circulation, flexibility of the joints, spine health, leg strength, level emotions, clarity, fatigue and nervousness and anxiety. There are two movements per animal to practice, each movement helps unblock meridian channels in the body and loosen areas of contraction and tension. Each animal also relates to one of the five elements and five yin and five yang internal organs.
The Five Animals Qigong Practice
Outlined below are the benefits of the Five Animals Qi Gong set, looking at Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), physical and mental health with an explanation of the key poses.
0. Adjust the Breath
Yin Organ: Liver
Yang Organ: Gallbladder
Raising the Tiger's Paws
- TCM; Sanjiao (thoracic and abdominal cavities)
- Organ: Liver (connecting eye movement), Lung system
- Health; grip, circulation
Seizing the Prey
- TCM; Dumai (governor vessel), Renmai (conception vessel)
- Organ: Kidneys, Gallbladder
- Health; circulation, waist, spine & lumbar, suppleness
Raising the Tiger's Paws - Key Movements
Focus on the trunk as the arms raise up passed the abdomen, chest, neck and head whilst maintaining an upright spine. Look for a cycle of expansion and compression in the abdomen and chest as you flow through the movement.
Seizing the Prey - Key Movements
Focus on the stability of the lower body, progressing from a horse stance to an empty stance with changes in your centre of gravity. Focus on the waist driving the movement of the arms, creating two vertical circles as you lift the arms up overhead.
Yin Organ: Kidneys
Yang Organ: Bladder
Colliding the Antlers
- TCM; Dumai (governor vessel) activating Yang Chi, Renmai (conception vessel), waist, kidney, coccyx, harmonize meridian Qi
- Health; spine & lumbar, kidneys, mobility back and waist
Running like a Deer
- TCM; Ming Men (DU-4), Dumai (governor vessel) activating Yang Chi, stimulate the meridian Qi in the 3 yin and 3 yang channels of the hand, for diseases of neck and shoulder
- Health; neck, shoulder, waist, back spine, frozen shoulder
Colliding the Antlers - Key Movements
Focus on the waist, kidneys, lumbar and the coccyx. The movement is driven from the waist, the shoulders are relaxed and connected to the waist. A mistake is to let the shoulders lead the movement. The secondary focus is to compress and expand the side waist.
Running like a Deer - Key Movements
Focus on the waist, kidneys, lumbar and the coccyx. Create two bow shapes, one horizontal (arms) and one vertical (spine) as you progress to the height of the movement. This flexes the spine stimulating the muscles and connective tissue in the waist, back, lower back and sacrum area.
Yin Organ: Spleen
Yang Organ: Stomach
Rotate Waist like a Bear
- TCM; Qi circulation in abdomen, spleen and stomach
- Health; waist joints and muscles, lumbar, massage internal abdominal organs, digestion, appetite, constipation, elimination
Swaying like a Bear
- TCM; Qi circulation, spleen and stomach function, nourish the liver and kidney, stimulate Liver Meridian.
- Health; waist muscles, help strengthen/relax hip joint, strengthen leg muscles, balance, epigastric region
Rotate Waist like a Bear - Key Movements
Focus on creating a vertical circle that is driven by the waist, with the hands, arms, shoulders and head all following your waist movement. Through the rotation, the trunk follows an expansion and compression movement. The lower body is relaxed and centred.
Swaying like a Bear - Key Movements
Focus on creating fluid stability in the lower body, moving your centre of gravity forwards and backwards in a squatting stance. The waist drives the rotation of the body, which creates the swaying arms, helping to expand and compress the internal organs.
Yin Organ: Heart
Yang Organ: Small Intestines
Raising Monkey Paws
- TCM; Qi circulation to the brain
- Health; neuromuscular response, respiration, massage heart muscle, blood circulation in brain
- TCM; Qi circulation to the brain
- Health; blood circulation in brain, nervousness, depression, anxiety
Raising Monkey Paws - Key Movements
Focus on creating a rooted posture when lifting the heels and maintaining an upright spine and head as you progress towards the height of the movement. As you raise the arms up, the abdomen and anus are pulled in and released when you lower down, following an expand and compress motion. The arms follow with an even paced movement.
Picking Fruit - Key Movements
Focus on the lower body creating a stable base that co-ordinates smoothly with the upper body. The choreography of the arms is complex with a variety of movements, stretches, expansion and compress that are all repeated symmetrically on each side of the body.
Yin Organ: Lungs
Yang Organ: Large Intestines
Crane stretching Upwards
- TCM; Qi and blood in all meridians, Dumai (governor vessel), Renmai (conception vessel)
- Health; mobility, respiration, lung capacity, bronchitis, pulmonary emphysema
Flying like a Crane
- TCM; Qi to flow to Dantian, Qi into Lung meridian
- Health; massage heart and lungs, respiration, lung capacity, blood oxygenation, balance
Crane stretching Upwards - Key Movements
Focus on the lower body creating stability to co-ordinate with the opening movements of the arms, changing from the beak hand posture to open flying wings. The arms progress from a triangle posture to an arc posture, whilst the trunk goes through a co-ordinated expand and compress motion.
Flying like a Crane - Key Movements
Focus on creating stability to enable standing on one leg with ease and grounding. A stable base will ensure the upper body movements maintain an even flow of motion. The arm movement flows through the joints relaxing the shoulders and elbows as you raise the wrists, then by relaxing the shoulder, elbows and wrist as the arms lower.
6. Convey Qi to Dantian
View the Chinese Health Association version below: