Health & Well-Being

Incorporating the Five Animal Frolics into Your Life

For high energy, vitality, and well-being

The beautiful blend of Tai Chi and Qigong, both practices working with the Qi, are found in animal frolics. Qi (chi) is the vital life energy that surrounds and sustains our existence. Qi is an energetic force that is often felt, although not seen. We are surrounded by qi-bearing gifts from nature, animals, ourselves, and others that enhance living.

Typically, Tai Chi is known to be a martial art form developed hundreds of years ago that emphasizes precise form in working with the chi exploring the harmony and balance of Heaven and Earth – the yin and yang of life – the boundless universe. Tai Chi translates as Supreme Ultimate and originated from Qigong about 800 years ago.

Qigong dates its lineage back 3000 to 5000 years ago to monks, sages and shamans and is shrouded in mystery. Its emphasis is on working with chi for vitality and wellness. Both practices move the chi throughout the body.

Five Animal Frolics, known as Wu Qin Xi, was developed in 145–208 by Surgeon Hua Tuo, who had excellent skills as a surgeon, acupuncturist, herbalist, and human anatomy. Hua Tuo recommended physical exercises for people as a method of rehabilitation, recovery, and, most importantly, for prevention. Wu Qin Xi is a set of Daoyin (deep stretching), and Tu Na (deep breathing) exercises that imitate the actions, the characteristics, spirit, and physical movements of each animal (tiger, deer, bear, bird, and monkey). The practice enhances mental balance and physical ease, specifically aiding respiration, digestion, circulation, the flexibility of the joints, spine health, leg strength, level emotions, clarity, fatigue, nervousness, and anxiety, and is widely used as a medical practice today.

Each animal frolic includes two movements helping to unblock energy meridian channels in the body and loosen areas of contraction and tension.

Tiger (supporting liver and gallbladder):

  • Activate claws with fingers stretching up
  • Bend from the hips, reaching way out to seize your prey

Deer (supporting kidneys and bladder)

  • Swing arms to left side, make antlers by closing second and third fingers into palms and circle arms up and overstretching to the right while stepping out with right foot. THEN repeat on the other side.
  • Arms front, step out with left foot, make fists (hooves), rock back on right leg with antler hands. REPEAT with other leg

Bear (supporting stomach and spleen)

  • Make fists for bear hands, swing alternate arms while rotating upper body like a bear just waking up
  • Left bear foot/left bear hand out, head turns right. Sway L/R bear arms forward and back alternately changing head position from L/R REPEAT with other foot

Bird (supporting large intestines and lungs)

  • Feet together, raise wings up high, swoop down to earth three times
  • Raise the left foot slightly, wings to shoulder height, foot down, wings down, then raise both up high. REPEAT with other foot
  • Form beak with one hand over the other, stretch up, release down, wings stretch back, and foot stretches back. REPEAT with other foot

CLICK HERE to watch a practice of the Five Animal Frolics.


Judith Stuartcoale Bonner

After many years as a literacy consultant and public-school educator, Judith Stuartcoale Bonner began her second act as a Tai Chi/Qigong instructor inspired by the richness of its ancient wisdom that stimulates health and serenity.

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