Yi Jin Jing (“Muscle/Tendon Change Classic”) is a qìgōng manual most notable as the source of the attribution of Shaolin Kung Fu to Bodhidharma. The most popular story about Bodhidharma relates that when he went to reside in the Shaolin Monastery, he saw the monks were weak and unhealthy. In order to strengthen them, he devised a system of exercises called the Yijinjing. As the name implies, “sinew transforming exercise” is the method to train the tendons and muscles. The exercise is designed according to the course and the characteristics of Qi circulation in the 12 regular channels and Du and Ren channels. During practice, Qi and blood usually circulates appropriately with proper speed and no sluggishness or stagnation. Because of this efficacy, Yijinjing has existed for centuries as a favorite with the populace and is still widely used in sanatoria and hospitals for therapeutic purposes.

Yijinjing – The Forms

Number of exercises tends to change, 18 should be the correct one (according to the 18 Lou Han), but can vary from 10 to 24, to 30. Today the most respected routine is that of Wang Zuyuan, composed of 12 exercises, and has been adopted by the most authoritative Academies of Chinese Medicine in China.

Purposes of Yijinjing

The basic purpose of Yijinjing is to turn flaccid and frail sinews and tendons into strong and sturdy ones. The movements of Yijinjing are at once vigorous and gentle. Their performance calls for a unity of will and strength, i.e. using one’s will to direct the exertion of muscular strength. It is coordinated with breathing. Better muscles and tendons means better health and shape, more resistance, flexibility, endurance, and is obtained as follows:

  • postures influences the static and nervous structure of the body
  • stretching muscles and sinews affects organs, joints, meridians and Qi
  • torsion affects metabolism and Jing production
  • breathing produce more and better refined Qi
  • active working gives back balance and strength to body and mind (brain, nervous system and spirit).


  1. Yi Jin Jing is one of the most powerful mind-body exertions I have every done! I hope to perfect it one day!

  2. … and you know what, the alternate tensing and relaxing has such an immediate feeling of release … but the shoulder joints are quite sore by the end, though … with time I hope that will ease off …

    But, I think, to reach for all these benefits a bit of soreness is a small price to pay!

  3. Some more benefits :

    1) Yi Jin Jing exercises has very impressive effects on the respiratory system, flexibility, balance and muscular strength. It can also prevent and cure diseases of the joints, digestive system, cardiovascular system and nervous system.

    2) It strongly engages the practitioner’s muscle force; this is why one can achieve noticeable results like increased muscle tone and stamina in quite a short time.

    3) Those who are desk-bound, spend too long in front of the computer or TV, driving etc., can greatly benefit from the YiJin, as they counter the negative effects of a sedentary and physically inactive lifestyle.

    4) It improves body posture and correcting postural and joint problems. Importantly, when learned correctly, it can help undo the negative side-effects often experienced following incorrect practice of various QiGong or Meditation techniques.

    YiJin is a tonic for the body and mind that lead to an improved energy, physical fitness and strength.

  4. Quite daunting, actually, but I can easily imagine how regular practise in this way will give better health and shape, more resistance, flexibility, endurance …

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