Clouds Over Qingcheng Mountain: Posting Exercises to Try

Mount Qingcheng, one of China’s mystical mountains, has been the birth place of discovery, realization and preservation of the recipes that stimulate the deep potential of the human body for generations. Clouds Over Qingcheng Mountain, the follow-up book to Climbing the Steps to Qingcheng Mountain by Daoist master Wang Yun, simplifies the complex practices of Daoism handed down by generations of accomplished Masters – such as posting, breath practice and meditation – and gifts the reader with its most valuable aspects for a modern world.

In this extract, we share three simple posting exercises to incorporate into everyday life to promote the flow of qi and blood, boost the immune system and help relax the body.

Posting relaxation exercises

[Benefits of posting include: promoting the smooth flow of qi and blood, methodically harmonizing the breath, and clearing the channels of the entire body.]

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, imagine a string hanging straight down from the upper dantian (near the pineal gland) to the huiyin point (the perineum), and landing on the floor between your two feet. Next, imagine your whole body as a bag of air, as if you were completely hollow. At the same time, relax your body; from the hair on your head down to the yongquan points at the bottom of the feet. Everything is totally empty, like a transparent crystal ball. Relax your body in this way and repeat the visualization three times. Continue reading

Developing internal energy for enhancing your healing practice

Solos_Developing-Inte_978-1-84819-183-9_colourjpg-webIt is a common theory in all the Chinese internal styles that the qi of the dantian must reach the tips of the fingers, although, how this is accomplished may differ majorly among different arts. The purpose is to make the strikes felt deep within the opponent’s body without damaging your hands. The training of such a skill, besides the internal cultivation practices, usually involves some form of punching or hitting to strengthen the ligaments of the hands, and also to make the hits (and touch) soft, powerful and precise, able to reach deep inside.

Crossing over to healing, such a skill is also very important, because in your tuina you need to protect the health of your hands from harm, and in acupuncture also ensure that you have the correct kind of energy that reaches deep inside the patient’s body to activate the points and channels.

The best tuina manuals usually offer some Neigong exercises designed to cultivate the right skill. Most of them include rigorous meditation while the hands work on a sand bag or a variety of other equipment. However, even such important skills become quite rare these days, because it may take some time to acquire them.


But let’s see some old exercises:

Exercise example 1: A traditional old Beijing Tuina method for teaching the hand method for the character for grasping (拿) was as follows:

“A small bucket of water was immersed inside a bigger bucket of water. The handle of the smaller bucket was attached through a leather cord to the outstretched hand of the practitioner, palm facing down. During this exercise the student had to sink the Qi to the Dantian, and then by using the round force (浑圆劲) of the whole body pull the bucket out of the water and then insert it back into the bigger bucket, without any spillage. After achieving the comfort force and the ability to assume a balanced and energy conserving posture, they would have to start meditating upon the character for grasping (拿) for the hands and rise and sink (沉-浮) for the body. Most of this exercise is happening first mentally and then physically. Movement should be soft and focused.”

Exercise example 2: This is an exercise used for the method of hitting (打) the back of the patient by using a split bamboo stick. For this skill, if the amount and type of force is not correct, it can result to damaging the muscles, skin and ligaments of the patient. An old Beijing exercise for this was as follows:

“The doctor assumes the Hun Yuan position, holding a split bamboo stick, or a Taiji long ruler, or just merely visualizing holding one. The Qi sinks to the Dan Tian, and the doctor relaxes every part of his body, until achieving a feeling of being suspended up from strings attached to the body, much like a puppet. The doctor should visualize being inside a Great Balloon that has its center in the Dantian. The outer walls of this “Great Balloon” have many hooks and barbed wire, which prevents it from moving towards any direction. The doctor however, should try to mentally move it by using his intention (意) but not any physical force, while working out all the related energetic contradictory forces (矛盾力) within his body frame. While moving the sphere with the power of the Dantian, the stick always follows the movement of the whole body, but never leads or dictates the direction. At the point (点) where the movement of the whole body stops and changes direction, the doctor should be meditating on developing the correct snapping force that is needed in hitting the back of the patient with the split bamboo stick. Most of this exercise is happening mentally, rather than physically. Movement should be soft and slight.”


In a similar way, internal cultivation for acupuncture needling should have a specific healing purpose, direct effect and an exact training methodology, based on appropriate understanding and application of Chinese energetic theories and correct body mechanics. This training should be primarily and directly applied towards treatment, exclusively in the clinic, as an unambiguous and solid therapeutic skill, where rational theory can be coupled with reasonable and consistent benefits, for both the healer and the patient.

In my latest book, Developing Internal Energy for Effective Acupuncture Practice I have included a complete training regime for assisting the energy aware practitioners to enhance their needling skills and transform their medicine into an extraordinary experience. With time and effort, perhaps one can discover the fine subtleties of the system at the energetic level.

Disclaimer: This article provides only simplified instruction for the above exercises, and purely for the sake of theoretical discussion. You should not attempt any of these without professional guidance from a certified teacher. The author of this article and the owner of this blog are not responsible for any harm that may be inflicted through the erroneous application of the information provided in this article.


Ioannis Solos studied Traditional Chinese Medicine at Middlesex University and the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. He enjoys researching, teaching, practicing and critically interpreting the ancient philosophy and culture of China, internal martial arts, health preservation practices, classic medical texts and lesser-known Chinese esoteric traditions.

Silk-reeling exercises for the upper body

Fengming_Essence-of-Taij_978-1-84819-245-4_colourjpg-webThis extract from The Essence of Taijiquan Push-Hands and Fighting Technique by Wang Fengming features unique silk-reeling exercises from Chen-style Taijiquan. This coprehensive training manual has never been available in English before and the practices are traditionally shrouded in secrecy.

Read the extract…

In The Essence of Taijiquan Push-Hands and Fighting Technique Master Wang Fengming, an eleventh generation practitioner of Chen-style Taijiquan, provides detailed information about the famous internal fighting techniques and reveals inside knowledge essential to the remarkable results achieved by the Chinese masters. The book features:

  • effective ways of cultivating Taiji internal power
  • variety of joint-locking techniques and counter techniques
  • 13 postures of Taiji explained
  • leg work, including stances and kicking techniques
  • unique silk-reeling exercises
  • rarely revealed vital point striking
  • 7 styles of push-hands training
  • 20 kinds of Taiji energy explained and demonstrated.

This comprehensive book is a major contribution to the literature on push-hands techniques in the West and is available from the Singing Dragon website.

Request a copy of our 2014 Singing Dragon new and bestselling books

SD logo 300 x 300 pixelsOur brand new catalogue of books and resources from will be available soon.

Click here to sign up for a free copy.

Our new catalogue has essential new titles from Charles Buck (Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine: Roots of Modern Practice) and Clare Harvey (The Practitioner’s Encyclopedia of Flower Remedies).

This is a great opportunity for parents to get a hold of Damo Mitchell’s newest book, The Four Dragons as well as Ioannis Solos’ Developing Internal Energy for Effective Acupuncture Practice.

There are useful new resources for every practice like Getting Better at Getting People Better by Noah Karrasch, and the new fully updated edition of A Guide to Living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Hypermobility Type) by Isobel Knight.

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Singing Dragon complete 2014

This fully interactive brochure has all of the new Singing Dragon titles for the spring and summer of 2014 as well as our complete backlist. In here you will find books on Chinese medicine, complementary therapies, martial arts, nutrition, yoga, ayurveda, qigong, Daoism, aromatherapy, and many more alternative therapies and ancient wisdom traditions.

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New books on martial arts and qigong – 2014

The Singing Dragon Martial Arts and Qigong catalogue is now available to view online and download. We hope you will find something in here which inspires you to try a new martial art or take your practice to a new level. In this catalogue you will find books on Chinese martial arts, tai chi, bagua, qigong, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, Daoism and enlightenment.

All the titles, author names, and covers are interactive; just click on them to be taken to the book or author page on the Singing Dragon website.

Be taught by Master Zhongxian Wu – Taiji, Bagua and Sound Healing Workshop in Oxford, UK

Wu 12 AnimalsMaster Zhongxian Wu is a lifelong Daoist practitioner and the lineage holder of four different schools of Qigong and martial arts, he has instructed thousands of students, both Eastern and Western, and is the author of several books published by Singing Dragon. Master Wu is teaching a two day Taiji, Bagua and Sound Healing workshop in Oxford on the 13th-14th July 2013. The workshop is open to all and will be accessible and extremely interesting to internal arts students of any level.

The workshop will focus on the Bagua, which are the building blocks of Daoist philosophy, internal arts, and classical Chinese medicine, and are used to represent the fundamental principles of the universe. The practice will cover:

Zhen Xun – Opening the spiritual gates and accessing the Qi
Gen Dui – Strengthening and moving the Qi
Kan Li – Fire-Water internal alchemical transformation
Qian Kun – Tranquil sitting and healing with harmonious sound

This is a rare opportunity to learn from a true Daoist Master and deepen your practice.

For more information and to book your place in the workshop, contact

Date: 13-14 July 2013
Location: Botley Women’s Institute
North Hinksey Lane
Cost: £195

For more information about Master Wu, please visit his website

If you can’t wait for the workshop, you can purchase a Master Wu book before you attend:

For beginners:
Vital Breath of the Dao, an excellent introduction to Daoist thought and the principles of qigong with the 24 movement Tiger form explained and illustrated in the book.

For advanced practitioners:
Chinese Shamanic Cosmic Orbit Qigong, an advanced form of Qigong from one of China’s esoteric traditions never before written about in the West.

Request a copy of the UK Singing Dragon Complete Catalogue

Cover of the Singing Dragon UK Complete CatalogueMake sure not to miss Singing Dragon’s latest UK Complete Catalogue. If you have not yet received a copy, please sign up for our mailing list and we’ll send a free one out to you ASAP.

Readers in the UK and Europe who request a copy of the catalogue before February 15th, 2013 will also receive a voucher for a 15% discount on the entire Singing Dragon list of books, with free postage and packing.

Take advantage of this opportunity to find new, forthcoming and classic books on Chinese Medicine, Holistic Health, Taiji, Qigong, Herbal Medicine, Yoga, Spirituality and more. Also, sample health-promoting recipes with The Functional Nutrition Cookbook, and Make Yourself Better with Philip Weeks’ books. Delve into the history of Ayurvedic Medicine and the Mudras of India, and discover the Five Levels of Taijiquan, Daoist Nei Gong and Chinese Medical Qigong.

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Qi Gong as a “process”: Journeying from dynamic movement to inner stillness

By Michael Acton, author of Eternal Spring: Taiji Quan, Qi Gong and the Cultivation of Health, Happiness and Longevity.

I came to Qi Gong through Taiji Quan, which is considered in China to be both a high level Qi Gong and a highly respected traditional martial art. I started Taiji in London back in 1976 when there were very few serious and knowledgeable instructors around. I had already dabbled in Japanese martial arts. Taiji was like a breath of fresh air, I found it both fascinating and fulfilling. It also reflected more accurately my growing interest in Buddhism and Daoism and their expression in Chinese art and culture. My first important teacher was a Malaysian Chinese and he introduced me to Wu style Taiji Quan. After several years he returned to Malaysia. I visited him there and learned and saw aspects of Taiji I had not seen in the UK. I also saw Thai and Malaysian martial arts whilst in Southeast Asia.

Back in the UK, I continued to practice with some students from my old group but I also began a more earnest investigation of new teachers and other styles of Chinese martial arts, notably Chen Style, Ba Gua, Hsing Yi and Traditional Yang Form. I also spent six months in Dharamsala, Northern India, painting two pictures for the Office of the Dalai Lama (see below) which gave me an opportunity to study meditation and Buddhist philosophy. This had a significant impact upon my personal development and my inclination towards Qi Gong as a therapeutic and spiritual path. It also inspired me to seek out a high level teacher in China.

Michael Acton's painting of one of the great teachers of Buddhism, Shnatarakshita, displayed in the Namgyal Temple in Dharamsala.

In 1992 I went to Shanghai, the home of Wu Style Taiji and met Master Li Liqun, a fourth generation Taiji master and a senior disciple of Ma Yueh Liang. Master Ma and his wife Wu Ying Hua, (daughter of Grandmaster Wu Jian Quan who developed the Wu Style as we know it today), were the gatekeepers of the Southern Wu Style martial system of Taiji Quan and were both renowned for their skill and knowledge. Master Li was a life long practitioner of Chinese martial arts and was a highly respected Taiji master and Qi Gong doctor. It was my good fortune to meet him and I considered myself lucky when he invited me to study with him.

From Master Li I re-learned everything I thought I already knew about Taiji. I studied the weapons and martial strategies and learned the rare Kuai Quan (Fast form) – said to be the original hand form. I also had the chance to study Qi Gong in depth. I studied Master Li’s methods and his widely acclaimed 5 Yin Organ Back Step systems. It was a profound introduction to Qi Gong as a therapeutic/health practice and a cathartic experience for me. I stayed in China for nearly four years and have subsequently been back for a year’s stay plus many, many visits, including my recent visit in late 2010 when I was invited to visit the graves of Ma Yueh Liang, Wu Ying Hua and Wu Jian Quan, to pay my respects as an ‘apprentice’ of Master Li’s. Master Li has always been generous in his teaching and believed that everyone should have the chance to practice and study Taiji Quan to cultivate their vitality, health and happiness. He also encouraged me to teach in the same spirit and I have been teaching now since 1996. In 2006 I founded the Wu Shi Taiji and Qi Gong Association UK with Master Li Liqun as our Honourary Chairman. Its aim is to teach the traditional Wu Style Taiji Quan as passed down by the founder Wu Jian Quan as well as the methods and principles of Qi Gong as passed to me by Master Li Liqun.

The Qi Gong course I teach has evolved over many years of teaching, studying and investigating Taiji and Qi Gong. I confess: it has taken me a long time to acquire the maturity and depth needed to teach Qi Gong properly as well as position all the developmental stages of Qi Gong practice in an intelligible and sequential way. My course addresses the difficulties many Westerners find in accessing what I call the Qi Gong ‘experience’. I deliver a broad syllabus of principles, methods and strategies used in therapeutic Qi Gong.

The syllabus covers four main Qi Gong strategies:

  •  Dynamic movement
  • Medical/Therapeutic Qi Gong
  • Qi Absorption/Emission, and
  • Meditation

I offer both an understandable syllabus and relevant theoretical framework. My emphasis always remains true to my Masters’ with its primary emphasis on the therapeutic and healing aspects of Qi Gong rather than the mystical, martial or even religious. Generally I follow the Chinese medical paradigm as expressed in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and although this can present problems for many students who are unfamiliar with the principles and theory, I always seek to explain the Chinese ideas in a digestible and experiential way.

Many of my senior Qi Gong students are either therapists, osteopaths or acupuncturists and they find that the therapeutic methods I teach both enhance their level of treatment and give them the means to manage their own health. I also teach many students who have medical conditions, some quite serious, that need managing. It is this context that has propelled and informed the syllabus and the depth to which I teach. I believe that serious students, especially those in the healing professions, need a full range of Qi Gong methods to be useful in their practice and relevant to their patients as well as to themselves. I have come to see the principles, methods and strategies as being intimately linked and interdependent, each providing a stepping stone for a deeper and more profound experience. Qi Gong is about Nourishing Vitality which requires far more than learning a few sets of movements. Nourishing Vitality means the practice of ‘conservation, restoration, nourishment and transformation’. Qi Gong should be seen as a ‘process’ and as such it unfolds progressively as you journey from dynamic movement to inner stillness. It is why in China the practice of Qi Gong is often referred to as a ‘way’ or the ‘Dao of Qi Gong’.

I have recently started running a beginners’ workshop at the Crouch End YMCA in London. It is usually held on the last Saturday of each month. There are still places available since we are still at the beginning phase of the syllabus. However, once we pass this phase it will not be easy for beginners to join this group, so call or e-mail if you are interested as soon as possible. My aim is to create a dedicated group which can progress together through the whole syllabus. Group cohesion and commitment is important in cultivating the right context for study.

Key Components of my syllabus:

  • Postural Dao Yin – Eternal Spring Qi Gong – (Yong Chuan Dao Yin Fa Gong) Dynamic Movement and posture based method.
  • Mental Dao Yin – The 5 Yin Organ Step Back Method of Master Li: Dan Tian cultivation, Energy circulation, Energy gate method, 12 Meridian method and Self Strengthening method.
  • Qi Absorption – 3 Opening and 9 Rotations, Heaven, Earth and Man Qi Gong, Qi Emission and Qi Absorption techniques.
  • Meditation – Respiratory techniques, Dissolving, Visualising Method, Blending and Transforming, Small Heavenly Circuit, and Entering Stillness.

For more information, contact:

Wu Shi Taiji Quan and Qi Gong Association UK
Tel: +44 (0)1225 832 292

Copyright © Singing Dragon 2011.

VIDEO: Damo Mitchell’s ‘Daoist Nei Gong – The Philosophical Art of Change’

Nei Gong has been a well-kept secret within the Daoist sects of China for centuries. Based upon the original teachings of the great sage Laozi, it has only ever been taught to close students of the masters chosen as the heads of the ancient orders.

For the first time in the English language, Damo Mitchell‘s forthcoming book, Daoist Nei Gong: The Philosophical Art of Change, describes the philosophy, principles and practice of Nei Gong.

The author provides a breakdown of the entire Nei Gong process, and explains in plain English the philosophy which underpins Nei Gong practice, and which is based on the original teachings of the ancient Daoist priests. The methodology of Sung breathing, an advanced meditative practice which has until now been reserved for ‘inner-door’ students is described, and the book contains an entire set of Qigong exercises accompanied by instructional photographs and drawings.

Watch the official book trailer:

(Courtesy of Damo Mitchell and Metal Dragon Media)


Watch Damo Mitchell in action:



Damo Mitchell has studied the martial, medical and spiritual arts of Asia since the age of four. His studies have taken him across the planet in search of authentic masters. He is the technical director of the Lotus Nei Gong School of Daoist Arts, and teaches Nei Gong in the UK and Sweden.

Copyright © Singing Dragon 2011.