Originally, must be consisted of five movement exercises: the ‘Wuxigong’, meaning something like ‘five breath exercises’.
The word ‘breath’ refers to ‘joint-breathing’. By relaxing the muscles and stretching the ligaments, the joints are elongated, or ‘opened’. This enhances the throughput of body fluids and neurological signals, which can be called ‘breathing’, or ‘refreshing’ the joint: the joints become suppler and the surrounding tissue becomes healthier.
The word ‘joint’ can have the wider meaning of body part. The five original Wuxi-Daoyin exercises treat the joints of neck, shoulders, chest, lower abdomen and the legs. Over the years, Dr. Shen Hongxun added two exercises. One is the “heaven and earth Daoyin”, which is essentially a standing prostration and works the entire body. The other exercise, the enclosing Daoyin, enhances the direction of Binqi towards the earth and can be used to end a training session.
The terms Dao and Yin both mean ‘to guide’. This can refer to the expelling of Binqi, but also to the internal force which is created by repetitive exercising.