The Means of Daoyin
There are numerous Daoyin means in ancient and modern China. They are different from each other; however, the basic element of all of them is the adjustment of body, breathing and thoughts (the so-called “three regulations”). What differs is that active course methods pay more attention to the body adjustment, while quiet course methods value more the regulations of breathing and thoughts. Judging from existing materials, the Daoyin at the early stage stresses only body exercises, such as the “dancing” in Lushi Chunqiu, “Dawu” in Lu Shi, and the dancing pictures in the painted-pottery pot. Since the Spring and Autumn and Warring Stages period, this unitary dancing-body regulation, had developed into an exercise combining the “three regulations”. The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor, which is written in this period, first points out that “Daoyin” can be used in medical treatments. This is the oldest existing medical literature recording that Daoyin is a regular measure for clinical treatments. In the Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor Su Wen • Shang Gu Tian Zhen Lun, it says that the major element for Daoyin is “to absorb essential qi, control one’s mind, and adjust the body”. “To absorb essential qi” refers to breathing exercises; “to control one’s mind” means the exercises of mind; “to adjust the body” means that when having body movements, the muscles and bones of the whole body need to be highly consistent and harmonious. All together, the sentence has made clear what the three adjustments are. Although it is not shown very clear in the Daoyin Picture, it can be reflected the titles of some breathing.It seems to tell us that the body movements need to combine with breathing led by the adjustment of mind. That is to say, the scene and the words in it contain implicitly the “three adjustments”. This kind of expression is rare in the works of Qigong. Accordingly, some scholars hold that the Daoyin in this Daoyin Picture contains all the methods of Health Qigong we promoted nowadays. Taking Qigong’s history and present development situation into consideration, we find that contents about specific Daoyin means in this Daoyin Picture far outnumbers those about Qigong methods. The Daoyin means recorded in the picture is only a general description of Qigong methods before the Han dynasty, or the description of some exercising scenes of that time. It is said that in traditional Qigong, body adjustments have four ways, namely sitting, standing, lying, and walking. However, in actual practicing, there are more than those four. For quiet course methods, sitting and standing are common; while in active course methods, there are several categories such as imitating, walking, gymnastics, dancing, and self-massage. For breathing adjustment and thoughts adjustments, they also possess various means of exercising. It is the different permutations and combinations of the means of the “three adjustments” that result in all the colorful and various Qigong methods in China. The Health Qigong methods are created by Qigong experts by absorbing the essential parts and discarding the dross of all the Qigong methods.
The Functions of Daoyin
For the functions of Daoyin, Ge Hong from the Jin dynasty pointed out in his book Pao Bu Zi that, “the main function of Daoyin is to prevent illnesses and to guide the detained qi out of the body”. This is totally identical with what we talk about keeping in good health and preventing illnesses. “To guide the detained qi out of the body” means preventing and treating illnesses. Traditional Chinese medicine holds that “all the illnesses are related with the circulation of qi.” The disharmony of qi and blood is one of the main reasons for illnesses. Therefore, to regulate the circulation of qi and blood and make it in a good condition is an important means to treatment illnesses. In the Daoyin Picture, there are many titles containing “yin”, which infers the functions of Daoyin. For instance, “Yin Long(Deaf)”,“Yin Gui”, “Yin Xitong”, “Yin Qie Ze”, “Yin Jiongre”, “Yin Wenbin”, “Yin Pitong” and so on. “Gui” refers to “dispirited”; “Xi” refers to “knee(s)”; “Qie Ze” means “detained”; and “Jiong” refers to “fever”. Therefore, all those titles means to “Yin (to guide and cure) various illnesses.
In short, the Daoyin Picture shows us the booming development of Qigong in its early stage until the West Han dynasty. The development is mainly characterized by the increasing numbers of methods, the maturity of the “three adjustments”, and its extended application. Besides, judging from the identification of the tomb owner, it can be concluded that Qigong is a popular means to keep in good health at that time.
（By Huang Jian）