HealthQigong
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Qigong in Sung, Jin and Yuan Dynasties (960 A.D – 1368 A.D.)

  In Sung and Yuan Dynasties, the Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and medicine all contributed a lot to the development of qigong, and qigong had big leaps on both the theories and routine practicing.
  Typography and papermaking were highly developed in Sung Dynasty, and the government put a lot of resources into the editing and compiling of medical books, the result is the publication of a large number of medical and qigong books, saving a great deal of ancient qigong materials. In theComprehensive Recording of Divine Assistance (Shèng Jì Zŏng Lù, 圣济总录) published in 1117 A.D., there are 3 volumes related to qigong study, including a collection of the daoyin and fu qi (qi taking/eating)[1] practices from before Northern Sung Dynasty. The Seven Excerptions of the Bamboo Book Box (yún jí qī qiān, 云笈七签) is a Taoist book edited by Zhang Jun-fang (张君房) during the Tian-xi era of Emperor Zhen-zong of Sung Dynasty, in which has a great deal of information concerning about daoyin and other qi practices. The Tao Pivot (Dào Shū, 道枢) is another comprehensive Taoist book after the Seven Excerptions of the Bamboo Book Box, which collected a lot of critical information about qigong and health cultivation.
  Various schools of medicine emerged during this period, while medical doctors were actively studying and applying qigong, there were many theory breakthroughs and clinical achievements. The most prominent representatives from this period were the “Four Great Doctors of the Jin and Yuan Dynasties”. Liu Wan-su (刘完素) was the representative of the Cooling School, he had a deep understanding of the application of Liu Zi Jue[2]. The representative of the Purgation School, Zhang Cong-zheng (张从正), claimed that “…… daoyin, massage, or any other methods for releasing the exterior (symptoms), are all under the category of sweat promotion therapy”, he mainly used Wu Qin Xi (The Five Animals Frolic). Li Gao (李杲), the symbolic person of the Earth[3] Nourishing School, suggested that patients should meditate to nourish the qi beside taking medicine, while Zhu Zhen-heng (朱震亨), the representative of the Yin Enriching School, believed that “for those have qi stagnation, atrophy, reversal cold of the limbs, coldness and heat, treat with daoyin”. Although the four of them have different academic views, they all suggested that qigong should be applied in clinical practice.
  The practice of internal elixir was emerged during the Sui, Tang and Five Dynasties, it became an independent school and then merged into medical qigong during the Sung, Jin and Yuan Dynasties. However, many of the internal elixir practices were quite unrealistic in some way, so we should be careful and discriminate the right and wrong when studying the related materials.
  Since the Sung Dynasty, many scholars had studied qigong cultivation, and practices focus on static exercises were especially welcomed by the scholar-bureaucrat hierarchy. Zhu Xi (朱熹), a famous philosopher and educator in Sung Dynasty, highly recommended static qigong and practiced it himself, he suggested that “if scholars use half day for meditation and half day for study, continue for three years, then none would have no advancement[4] (学者半日静坐,半日读书,如此三年,无不进者)”. 
     Other scholars in Sung Dynasty, such as Ou-yang Xiu (欧阳修), Su Shi (苏轼)and Lu You (陆游), also had treatises on the study and practical experience of qigong. Su Shi[5] summarized a number of daoyin and cultivation forms to compile a simple daoyin routine which is easy to practice, and wrote the Treatise and Essentials of Health Cultivation (Yăng Shēng Jué Lùn养生诀论),The Practice of Fetus Breathing (Tāi Xī Fă胎息法) and others. At the same time, some other qigong routines were very popular among the folk population, such as Ba Duan Jin (the Eight Pieces of Brocade) which is easy to remember, simple, mild (intensity) and effective.


[1] Fu qi (服气): “服” fu means eating or taking in.
[2] Liu zi jue: The Six Words or The Six Sounds
[3] “Earth” here refers to the spleen-zang and the stomach-fu.
[4] The “study” and “advancement” here not only refers to the study and advancement in meditation or qigong, it indeed refers to the overall study and advancement of a person.
[5] Su Shi (苏轼): A famous scholar and poet in Sung Dynasty