Master YiShi Yang & His Calligraphy on Immortal Living-Massage Method

[Cultivating The Mind]

Master YiShi Yang and  His Famous Calligraphy on  Immortal Living-Massage Method

by Kevin Chen, Ph.D










Master Yi-Shi Yang (杨凝式) (873–954), also known as Yang Shaoshi (杨少师), was a famous calligrapher in the Wu-Dai period. He was especially known for his drafting-style calligraphy, which is attributed with changing Chinese history. Unfortunately, there are not many pieces of calligraphy left in the collection that was discovered. It is said that master Yang burned most of his calligraphies when he was 70 years old as he felt the calligraphy could not bring people a real sense of peace and health.  Instead, he decided to pay special attention to self-care and Yang Sheng (nurturing life) techniques.

Master Yang wrote a famous drafting calligraphy on the subject of “Immortal Living-Massage Method” (神仙起居法) at the age of 76, in an attempt to promote a self massage method from traditional Chinese medicine.   The original piece of this calligraphy is preserved in the Changzhou Museum of Jiangshou Province.

I heard about Master Yang and learned his story and Yang Sheng method from qigong master Yan Wang, when she was 75 years old, living in Amsterdam, Netherland. What’s even more interesting, is that she learned this self-massage method from her master when he was 95 years old!  Surely, this Yang Sheng method must play an important role in their health and longevity, so I decided to share it here as part of our exploration of the secrets in longevity.

The famous drafting calligraphy by master Yang,  the “Immortal Living-Massage Method”, is a five-word regular poem (五言律诗).

Calligraphy by Shaoshi Yang on Immortal living massage method.

Calligraphy by Shaoshi Yang on Immortal living massage method.


Here is a brief translation of the poem:

The first sentence: “You can do this exercise at any time and under any circumstance, just have the inside edges of both palms massage your rib and stomach.”

The second sentence: “You will feel happy and experience comfort after repeating this movement. Then use both hands to massage your stomach area with spiral motion.”

The third sentence says: “Move yours hands to the sides of your waist, apply fists to massage the two Shen-yu points (kidney area).”

The fourth sentence: “Repeat these many times, you may ask your family to help if you feel tired.”

The fifth sentence:  “Massage the three parts of body multiple times, the more-the better, do not feel tired of it.”

The sixth sentence:  “The more you practice, the more you benefit; practice after practice, you will walk toward the path of immortality.”

To help reader actually perform this simple exercise, Master Yan Wang (maybe it was her master), has summarized the immortal living-massage into the following three movements.  You can do this exercise by standing or sitting down.  All movements come as massage.  The more you massage the better.

Palms face up, and put the edge of your palms on each side underneath the liver and spleen.  Push fairly hard into the body, and rub back and forth.

Make the right hand into a fist (women), left had into a fist (men) – thumb on top of the index finger.  Put the first onto the navel, and the other hand on top.  Massage in circles around the abdomen; first clockwise – minimum 72 times, (This is effective against constipation).

Then, massage counterclockwise, minimum 54 times, (This is effective against diarrhea).

If you are constipated, massage only clockwise.  If you have diarrhea, do only counterclockwise.  If neither, massage both directions, accompanying with deep breathing, and make the digestive system smooth and strong.

Massage the kidneys with the back of the fists.  As many times as possible.

Try this exercise daily for a month; you will feel the difference in your daily life.



Dr. Kevin Chen

Kevin W Chen, Ph.D. – is an associate professor at the Center for Integrative Medicine and Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine (USA).  Dr. Chen was educated in the universities of both China and the United States, and has years of experience and training in blending eastern and western perspectives, and in the practice of life-nurturing methods. As a long-time practitioner of Qigong Yang Sheng, he is one of the few scientists in the U.S. to have both hands-on knowledge of mind-body practice, and an active research career in mind-body medicine, which is funded through grants by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and various foundations.  Dr. Chen devotes his career and life to the practice of Yang Sheng, and promotion of self-healing and mind-body-spirit integration through the non-profit organization, World Institute for Self Healing (WISH) (
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