Dao Yin

"Daoyin" is the original term for health enhancing exercises now more usually referred to as "Qi Gong" ("Chi Kung"). In essence it refers to the ancient body-mind exercises which formed the physical element of "Yang Sheng" providing health care and physical and spiritual purification leading to longevity

Their exact historical origins are uncertain, but they are certainly some thousands of years old.

The first historical reference about it appears in Zhuangzi, a Taoist text written between the 4th and 2nd century BC:

 "Breathing in and out, exhaling and inhaling, they get rid of the old to absorb the new. They swing like bears and stretch like birds - all this they do in order to have long life. They are Daoyin disciples, people who nourish their form seeking for longevity like Pengzu."

Many different interpretations were given to the word "daoyin" during the ages. The following two are the most reliable:

daoqi yinti - guide the qi and stretch the body
daoqi yinliao - guide the qi to obtain a healing effect

Both interpretations describe important aspects of the exercise, and do not contradict each other. The first describes the technique while the second refers to one goal of the exercise. Actually with daoyin we guide the qi and move our body in order to obtain a beneficial effect to our health.

The image below is a reconstruction of a Daoyin chart, painted on silk, excavated from the Mawangdui Tomb 3 in the former kingdom of Changsha (from the Wellcome Collection). The tomb was sealed in 168BC.

The Chinese have been writing books on Daoyin for over 2000 years