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The Five Animal Frolics

The "Five Animal Frolics”

These exercises were organized and created into an effective combined set and promoted by the famous Chinese physician Hua Tuo (Yuan Hua) (141-208 CE.) who was a contemporary of Zhang Zhongjing. He travelled from town to town treating patients and learning from other doctor's practices. He is famous for his skill as a surgeon and his use of anesthesia.

The anesthesia was given as a powder called mafeisan that was dissolved in a fermented drink before performing surgery. It has been suggested the powder may have been hemp since its uses were unknown at that time.

Besides performing surgeries, Hua Tuo also recommended the use of physical exercises for his patients. He devised movements that were similar to the movements of five different animals.

The five animals in the exercises are the

  • tiger,
  • deer,
  • bear,
  • monkey
  • crane.

According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine theory of Wu Xing (Five Elements), each animal has two exercises corresponding to the five yin (Zang) and five yang (Fu) internal organs.

Regular practice of this Qi Gong is said to improve functioning of the

  • Liver/Gall Bladder (Wood Element - TIGER),
  • Kidneys/Bladder (Water Element - DEER),
  • Spleen/Stomach (Earth Element - BEAR),
  • Heart/Small Intestine (Fire Element - MONKEY)
  • Lung/Large Intestine (Metal Element - BIRD)

Five-Animal Frolics Exercise Improves Anxiety and Depression Outcomes in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease: A Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial

I am studying these exercises on Udemy Or if you prefer a more in depth course - then check out

White Tiger Qigong