Ancient China produced a wealth of stories and some of them were described in ancient classical medicinal texts. For instance, there is the case of the curious goat herder who one day noticed that several of his Billy Goats were behaving in an unusually randy manner, mounting their mates repeatedly in remarkably brief spans of time. Aroused by their amorous behavior, perhaps even a bit envious of their prowess, the goat herder, started keeping a careful watch on his horny herd. He soon detected a pattern, that whenever a Billy Goat ate from a particular patch of weeds, its promiscuous proclivities peaked. Before long Chinese herbalists had determined what goats had long known, that a potent plant for male aphrodisiacs called the herb yin-yang-huo or ‘horny goat weed’ did the trick. After thousands of years of observation and experimentation provided the world of Chinese medicine with the most comprehensive pharmacopoeia of herbal remedies.
Sun Ssu-mo (also known as Sun Simiao) was a child prodigy and he became one of the most, if not the most, interesting figures in the history of Chinese medicine. He mastered the Chinese classics by age 20 and then became a well-known medical practitioner. His ideas and collected prescriptions were recorded in the books ‘Prescriptions Worth A Thousand Gold’ and ‘Precious Formulas for Emergency’. He helped develop nutritional medicine, recommending seaweed to people living in the mountain regions who suffered from goiter, and recommending liver of ox and sheep for person suffering from night blindness. He was also a Taoist alchemist, who sought demon-dispelling remedies and as a Chinese physician he was a pioneer of herbal and nutritional medicine.
He included treatises on acupuncture, moxibustion (a form of heat therapy which consists of burning dried aromatic plants on particular points on the body), massage, diet, regulated sex, deep breathing and exercises. He succinctly distilled the essence of Taoist exercise principles by saying that people need to keep moving in order to stay in good health. He said, “The way of nurturing life requires that one keep oneself as fluid and flexible as possible. One should learn how to exercise naturally, observing the fact that flowing water never stagnates and a busy door with active hinges never rusts or rots. Why? Because they exercise themselves perpetually and are almost always moving.”
Observing nature allows us to see that rhythmic movement is the foundation for cultivating essence and energy. By keeping your essence moving like a mountain stream and by practicing controlled deep balanced breathing with rhythmic physical movement, your body and breath will harmonize and vital energy will circulate to every organ and tissue in your body. Regular exercise of the slow, soft, rhythmic variety tones muscles, keeps joints limber and enhances physical appearance.