'Five Animals' move to relieve urban stress

Updated 2017-11-08 18:01:57 Xinhua

Among the pine trees in the morning sunlight, a woman imitates a bird preparing to fly, redolent of a heroine from a classic Kungfu novel.

This has been Hua Yi's after-hours routine. Hua is the 59th inheritor of Wuqinxi -- the Five-Animal Exercises -- invented by one of the greatest doctors in Chinese history, Hua Tuo, more than 1,800 years ago. A recent hit TV series "The Advisors Alliance," brought the exercises into the public eye.

Legend has it that Hua Tuo created Wuqinxi based on his observations of tigers, deer, bears, apes and birds in Bozhou, in east China's Anhui Province, where he was born.

Hua Yi is also a native of Bozhou and, in her spare time, totally committed to the practice and popularization of Wuqinxi. She learned to dance at the age of five, but dreamed of joining the police. She learned Kungfu at seven. As an 18 year old, she discovered Wuqinxi and began learning the exercises from Zhou Jinzhong, the 58th inheritor.

"A lot of young people think that Wuqinxi is old-fashioned and is only for the elderly," Hua Yi said.

To encourage younger people to try the exercises, Hua has incorporated breathing, the mind-body philosophy of yoga and some aspects of traditional Chinese medicine with the Five-Animal Exercises to create "Wuqinxi yoga."

"The bear movements are good for the stomach and spleen. The tiger soothes pain in the waist and back. The deer movements can reduce fat around the waist and the ape is good for cardio-pulmonary functions. Bird movements can help prevent arthritis," Hua said.

"Wuqinxi yoga can truly help stressed-out urbanites to relax."

In 2015, she began to inspire the public both in China and overseas to learn Wuqinxi. She often organizes public lectures and teaches people the movements in communities, schools and offices.

After reading books about traditional Chinese clothes, she began to design costumes to accompany the exercises so that Wuqinxi yoga is "not only good for the body, but also fun to watch."

"In March, we performed in Iran, and people were surprised that an exercise regime with almost 2,000 years of history is still practiced in China," she said.

When it comes to the passing on of the exercises, her mentor Zhou Jinzhou believes young people are instrumental. In his eyes Wuqinxi is more than just some movements, it is "a profound philosophical system."

"Only young people can breathe new life into the exercises and help Wuqinxi adapt to the modern era," he said.

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