What is Dao Yin?

Dao Yin is an ancient movement practice from China.

This is a reconstruction of a “Guiding and Pulling Chart” excavated from the Mawangdui Tomb 3 (sealed in 168BC) in the former kingdom of Changsha. The original is in the Hunan Provincial Museum, Changsha, China. (1)

The words “Dao Yin” in this context means “guiding” and “leading or pulling.”

Dao Yin practice differs from Qi Gong (another form of exercise from China) in a few ways:

  1. The intention of Dao Yin is to forcefully clear stagnation out of the body tissues and meridians, whereas Qi Gong focuses on circulating Qi (“chee”) through the meridian system.
  2. Since the emphasis is on clearing out stagnation, Dao Yin is practiced with the eyes open holding the intention to lead the stagnant Qi out of the body.  Qi Gong is more frequently practiced with the eyes closed and the mind placed within the body to feel and sense the Qi.
  3. Due to the vigorous nature of Dao Yin, a great deal of heat is generated.  Qi Gong is more of a balancing practice which does not create such extreme temperatures.
  4. My personal experience with Dao Yin (which at this point is very limited) is that the movements focus on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue in order to open and stretch these structures.

The Dao Yin process of clearing out stagnation creates plenty of sweat! My Dao Yin practice has resulted in more range of motion in every joint and more overall energy. As my areas of stagnation are clearing away, my Qi is flowing and revitalizing my body-mind-spirit.

I have appreciated learning Dao Yin from Damo Mitchell. Here is his website for more information: Lotus Nei Gong

For a great introduction to Dao Yin, I highly recommend Damo Mitchell’s book, The Four Dragons.

Four Dragons Book Cover

by Damo Mitchell




(1) This image comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom.

About The Author

Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT

Cindy Black is the Founder of Big Tree School of Natural Healing and the author of Meridian Massage, Pathways to Vitality. She is appreciated for her ability to make the complex accessible, fun, and practical.


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