All posts by Shifu Yan Lei Team

About Shifu Yan Lei Team

I'm a 34th generation fighting disciple from the Shaolin Temple in China. I help people unlock the peace and strength that is already within them.

Why Do Shaolin Monks Wear Jade?

I come from Xin Jiang which is in the far North of China. My city is a three hour drive from the Gobi Desert. Most of the jade on my website is hand picked from the Gobi Desert. This is my favourite jade because of the striking colour and texture. Flecked with gold and smokey white clouds, no two jade stones are alike.

Jade Eagle Amulet

Like this Eagle Amulet, on the back it’s pure unadulterated jade, while on the front an eagle has been hand carved into the stone.

Jade Energy Stones And Amulets

The jade stones are hand picked from the Gobi desert. They are then taken to the nearest local village where they are polished and hand carved. If they are small, they are made into amulets, and if they are large, they are made into energy stones. Some of them are not carved but kept as energy stones. I keep these next to my computer to purify the air. I recommend you wear the energy stone amulets when practicing Qigong.

Jade is so valued in China that we have a saying, “Gold has value, jade is invaluable.” Shaolin Monks see it as a living thing and it has a long tradition of being used in Traditional Chinese Medicine alongside Qigong, acupuncture and Qigong massage. These are is just a few of the health benefits:

  • Purification and protection
  • Detoxifying
  • Increases your innate healing power
  • Calming and grounding
  • Aids longevity
  • Protects against harmful rays of computers and phones.

At the Shaolin Temple, most students and monks wear a jade  amulet or mala. It’s good to surround yourself with images that uplift and inspire you. Reminders that you are on the Shaolin Warrior path. Every piece of Jade with a carving has a deep symbolic meaning which comes from cosmological, mythical and Buddhist beliefs.

For example, Bodhidharma ( Damo) has a very special place in a Shaolin monk’s heart. The founder of Zen and the person who developed Shaolin martial arts. We see him as important a teacher as the Buddha was. Once you step on the path of Shaolin, this Indian master is your spiritual ancestor.

The Shaolin Warrior doesn’t just train in the training hall. Our practice is our life. Jade is not so well known in the West as Kung Fu and Qigong but is as much a part of a Shaolin Monk’s practice as it’s a part of Chinese culture and health. This is my motivation for sharing with you. I hope you enjoy and get great benefit.

Shop Chinese Jade Now

The 7 Health Habits Of A Shaolin Monk

Living like a Shaolin Monk gives us a fascinating insight into how we can live  a longer, healthier life with more vitality even in the midst of our urban modern life. Many of us look at a Shaolin Monk’s life and think it’s extreme but think of a Shaolin Monk like an Olympic champion, working hard everyday to remain at the peak of their health and fitness so they can achieve their end goal of enlightenment.

The 7 Health Habits Of A Shaolin Monk

1) Make your health your priority

Yesterday a student came to me with back pain so bad, he found it difficult to stand up straight. He told me that he couldn’t work or do anything because he was so overcome with pain. I massaged his pain to alleviate the worse of it then I guided him through a Qigong movement. At the end of our session, his pain was almost completely gone. I asked him what had triggered the pain, and he told me he hadn’t had time to do any training for many months.

Your health is the most important thing there is. Without health you can’t work or look after your family. Make it a priority. Shaolin Monks never skip a workout.

2) The Power Of Commitment

Before embarking on their training, a Shaolin Monk makes a vow in front of their community. Being healthy requires a lifestyle changes and a way of approaching life in a more holistic way. Think of what you want to achieve, how much time you can give to achieve this goal, and make an inner commitment to strengthen your resolve.

3) Everyday Life Is Zen

When a Shaolin Monk eats they do eating meditation,  when they walk they do walking meditation. Staying focused on the path leads to unshakeable peace. So next time you’re in the supermarket do shopping meditation! Treat everything you do as a scared activity.

4) Be Moderate In Eating and Drinking

Through training, your body will naturally reject unhealthy foods and crave healthy foods. Shaolin Monks think of food as medicine, only eating and drinking what they really need. This isn’t about morality, it’s about what serves the purpose of honing us into a martial artist.

5) Quantity counts more than quality

When a Shaolin Monk trains they train with their heart – mind first then their body. Better to train for ten minutes like this than an hour of unfocused scattered training

6) It is our bad habits that cause us trouble, not reality

Whenever a negative emotion arises, a Shaolin Monk welcomes it as a gift  so that they can progress on their path. We tend to cling to our worries, circling them round and round in our mind like a marble.  But the truth is that by doing this we are only adding to our problem.

7) The Peaceful Heart Is Always Here

A Shaolin Monks way is to peace is through their training and meditation. Whatever yours is, make sure you give yourself time to renew yourself on a daily basis through the Shaolin Qigong Workout and get in touch with the peace that is always within you.

Click here to order everything you need to begin your Qigong Journey today.


3 Ways To Train Like A Shaolin Monk

The Shaolin Temple Abbot asked my brother and myself to come to the West because he didn’t want so many Western students coming to the East. I teach with my heart. I teach the same in my books and DVDs as I learnt at the Shaolin Temple. Even when studying under a master, we don’t receive that much personal instruction. We mostly self-practice. No one is there to hold our hand.

It’s important that you don’t dream your life away. f you really want to learn Shaolin as a martial art then start with this book and these 3 DVDs. This is your starting point. I’m your guide. I will  help you as much as I can with the limitations of my knowledge, resources and skills.

Last weeks article was about what a novice monk learns when they first step into the temple. This weeks article is about the first few months of training.

The stances and kicks are your foundation. Don’t underestimate them. Make them as strong and solid and precise as you can. Every Shaolin form whether it’s kung fu or Qigong is made up of these stances and kicks. Your forms are as good as your stances. The Shaolin forms are designed to awaken every cell in your body. They activate the muscles in your body in a very fluid way.

The next stage of your training is linking the Five Fundamental Stances into Shaolin forms, and being able to do the Five Fundamental Kicks much faster. We also introduce some fighting kicks.

3 Ways To Train Like A Shaolin Monk

  • Vary Your Speed – Slow your movements down then pace them up. See how fast you can do them before you become sloppy. This will give you an insight into how well you know the movements.
  • Dig Deep – A person looking for water doesn’t run around everywhere but stays in one place and keeps digging. It’s the same with your practice. Stay with it. Shaolin Monks practice each Shaolin kick more than a hundred times a day.
  • Forget Instant – Yes, I’m guilty of this myself because I call my books Instant Fitness and Instant Health. In some ways, it is instant because we’re one breath away from being calm. But for lasting health and fitness, this takes a change of lifestyle.  The very meaning of Kung Fu is something which takes a lot of time to master.

Train with Shaolin Workout 1 on one day then Shaolin Workout 2 on another day and spend one day slowly mastering the forms and the kicks. This training is exactly the same as a Shaolin Monk. If you train 6 times a week and begin your training with a run, it will take you 3 months for your body to transform into a martial art’s body. Let me know how you get on. And if you like my articles, please share them.

Instant Fitness: Shaolin Kung Fu Workout

Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout

Shaolin Workout Bundle DVDs ( choose NTSC if you’re in the USA)

The Secret Training Of A Novice Shaolin Monk

When a novice monk arrives at the temple, the first thing they have to attain is stamina. Think of stamina as energy for training. Without stamina, there’s no training. This is why, when students ask me what they need to prepare for the summer camp, I tell them, just run. I don’t mind if they’ve never done any martial arts before. All I ask is they have stamina.

The first Shaolin exercise the novice monk learns is the Five Fundamental Stances. In the gym, students squat with weights in order to strengthen their legs and core. The Five Fundamental Stances are similar but the squats come from different angles. They open the hips, strengthen the core, help with balance, and increase static stamina.

There are many pictures of Shaolin Monks eating breakfast while staying in horse stance. While I’ve never done that! Shaolin Monks do hold stances. Static stamina is another way to strengthen the body. Western people typically do planks. You’ll be surprised how much you sweat just by holding a stance. I combine many of these movements in my Qigong for Lower Body.

The Five Fundamental Kicks are the next exercise they learn. The beauty of the Shaolin movements is they don’t just do one thing. They are multifunctional. The kicks build stamina speed, agility and flexibility. Shaolin is a highly efficient and intelligent way to train. The training has a destination: to transform the novice monk into a highly efficient martial artist. The secret to Shaolin? Training. Training. And more training.

If I’m travelling and all I have access to is a car park. I’ll take my skipping rope, do some skipping to warm up then combine some of my fight training with novice monk exercises. These exercises are never learnt then not practiced. They are practiced for the rest of our life. Once you know these exercises well you can combine them into your workout. If you workout at the gym, whether its kettle bells, weights, circuit training or MMA then add in a couple of kicks or stances into your workout. Mix it up. Don’t just stick to one thing. You don’t want your training to be too linear. Your body will thank you for it. It will improve your fighting kicks, your stamina, make you run faster. Try it and let me know!

The Shaolin Workout are thousands of years old. Passed from generation to generation and still practiced by millions of people every day. If any of you have been to Shaolin, it’s amazing to see hundreds of students practicing. Why do they do it? If the exercises were rubbish, they would have been forgotten along time ago. The reason they’re still practiced is because they’re a proven way to change our muscles and tendons.  

And let’s not forget that the Shaolin Temple is a Zen Temple. The exercises act as a bridge to Zen. The link between mind and body is the breath.  It’s impossible to do any of these exercises mindlessly. Breath is an integral part to the training. It’s a little like swimming. Even if you’re out of breath when you swim, you have to find a way to control your breathing otherwise you’ll breath in water. It’s the same with Shaolin, you can’t inhale on a kick or a punch. It feels completely unnatural. Natural breathing happens of its own accord. Once the mind and body are working together the body becomes happy and this in turn makes the mind happy and  the endorphins of peace and happiness are released.

It’s best not to explain too much because too much information takes away the student’s own raw experience. But there is so much misinformation on the internet about Shaolin that sometimes students tie themselves in knots. and this confusion creates unhappiness. What are we all looking for? We want health and happiness. This statement is overused and sounds a bit silly but actually it’s a strong and worthy thing to want.

I show you from the Shaolin Way how we go about it. Maybe you’re not interested in Shaolin and find happiness from skiing or flower arranging and so that’s what you need to do.

But if you do study Shaolin, keep it simple. As soon as you start over thinking or getting complicated, stop, bring yourself back. Breath and movement together. That’s all you need to do.

Novice Monk exercises are taught in my Shaolin Workout bookDVD and download.  In next week’s article I’ll talk about the second stage of a novice monk’s training: forms.


Fit Is Not Healthy: A Shaolin Monk’s Guide To Exceptional Wellness

In the age of social media, many people train for a body they perceive looks attractive to other people. When I was training at the Shaolin Temple, we didn’t even have a camera. Nothing was documented. We trained to conquer our mind and body and become the best we could in our chosen art form.

Since coming to the West, I’ve noticed that many fit people aren’t healthy. And many people whose body looks good on the outside, aren’t well on the inside. When a student first comes to train with me, I ask them to throw away the scales, the smartphone,  the mirror and train for the pure motivation of inner and outer wellness. What matters most? Health or looking good?

Gym Training has its merits but it doesn’t address the whole body. One of the keys to successful training is balancing the Yin and Yang. This means training internally as well as externally.  From a Shaolin Monk’s perspective, a well and healthy body is flexible, has good stamina, a strength and leanness to the muscles, and a mind and body that works in harmony.

A weight trainer’s body is muscular but tends to be stiff. A weight lifter will usually be unable to do the splits. Their range of movement will be limited and slow. A yoga student will be flexible but ask them to do the Five Fundamental Kicks and there will be no stamina or explosive power to their kick.

Why are splits important or being able to kick?  Even if you can’t do the splits, it’s good to attempt them because it opens up the hips and the legs. The Five Fundamental Kicks are a dynamic stretch.  Combining dynamic stretching with static stretching is the best way to increase stamina. Combining explosive movement with slower movement and anerobic training with aerobic training gives an alertness to the body. It’s highly tuned.

The Yin Training a Shaolin Monk does is Qigong. (I’ve written many articles about Qigong so I won’t go into details in this article.) A cook always sharpens their knife. Qigong is the sharpening of the knife.

A Shaolin Monk trains all the time. When we punch, we do punch meditation, when we kick, we do kick meditation, when we eat we do eating meditation.  Eating mindfully has been found to help with digestion and even weight loss. Mindfulness has become very popular recently because it’s been shown to prevent anxiety and depression. There’s nothing complicated about it. We simply connect our mind, body and heart into a whole and then we feel whole. We are no longer distracted and looking for something to complete us. We are already complete.

But how can you implement a Shaolin Monk’s wellness into your life? As you continue in your week, stay connected – not to what’s happening on your smart phone – but to what’s happening in your heart, mind and body. Be aware of any distraction. This is all energy going outward. When our mind and body are stable, energy naturally returns.

If you’re not a martial artist then incorporate some kung fu movements and Qigong movements from the Kung Fu Workout For Beginners  and Qigong Workout For Beginners into your workout.

If you like this article please share it and let me know how you get on in the comments below. #shaolinmonkwellness

Photos by Sasha Gusov

The Breath Of The Enlightened Ones

When I was 15, I injured my back and my doctor told me I could never train again. I loved Shaolin Kung Fu so much that I didn’t listen to him and – even though I was in considerable pain – I went back to the Shaolin Temple and continued with my training. Nearly thirty years later, I’m still in love with Shaolin and I’m still training. I generally workout 3 hours a day and I teach 4 – 6 hours per day. That training and teaching takes a lot of energy! The only reason I can sustain it is because of Qigong.

Don’t tell anyone but Qigong is not my favorite workout. I much prefer Sanshou and Kung Fu. But I like the benefit and the feeling of calm afterwards. At the Shaolin Temple, the aim of Qigong is to make our body become its own doctor. But what does that actually mean? The body is constantly regulating itself. Ever tried to loose weight and found it hard? That’s because even our body fat – frustratingly for us – regulates itself. Eat less and our metabolism slows down to compensate. The aim of Qigong is to create a more harmonious regulation of the body. Stress – one of the major causes of illness and also belly fat through the production of cortisol – melts away, breathing is calmed, and the body’s automatic wisdom takes over.

The 8 Treasures Qigong is possibly the most famous Qigong in the world. Once the Qigong moved out of the temple – like Chinese whispers – other variations were taught. I can’t testify to the effectiveness of these. The one that I refer to in this article is the original Shaolin Temple 8 Treasures Qigong.

The founder of Zen, Bodhidharma (Damo) created this Qigong because the monks were suffering from the same problems we suffer from today. They were sitting for long periods of time and this was weakening their body. Of course, they weren’t sitting in offices in front of computers. They were sitting in temples in meditation in their quest to gain enlightenment.  A Shaolin Monk took 8 of the most effective movements from the longer Qigong that Damo created for the Shaolin monks and called it The 8 Treasures. It’s also called 8 Brocades or Ba Buan Jin.

Using my book and the DVD together means that you can see the movement and you can also read a break down of the movement so you can learn it effectively. I’ve had many students who trained with my book and DVD and then came to me for a private session to check it they’re practicing correctly. This gives me an opportunity to see if the book and DVD are an effective teaching method and I’m pleased to say they are because my student’s training is correct.

It’s no different than following a recipe (my students tell me, I’ve never read a cookery book in my life). As long as you follow the instructions, you can learn from my book and DVD very effectively.

The biggest challenge in learning from home is not whether you’re doing it correctly but staying motivated. Can you imagine not drinking coffee? Or brushing your teeth? Or taking your clothes off before you go to bed? This is because all of these things are a habit for you.

Will power runs out but habit lasts a lifetime. The beauty of the 8 movements is that they can be broken down so if you only have 5 minutes then do 5 minutes. Do them at the same time and on the same day every week. Your body will crave your Qigong practice as if it’s the most delicious food you’ve ever tasted. Delicious food releases endorphins in our body – which is one of the reasons many people eat when they’re stressed. Qigong releases endorphins too! So next time you feel stressed, rather than reaching for that piece of chocolate cake – do Qigong!

The Instant Health Massage is an integral part of the practice but if you don’t have time to do it after your Qigong practice, do it after your bath or shower either in the evening or the morning. It’s also great to do after your workout. Focus on the muscles that are tight and the parts of your body that feels tender. These are meridian blockages and you can massage them for longer.

But how do you know if you’re doing the Qigong Workout correctly? Your face will look younger, your eyes will be brighter, your skin will glow, you will feel grounded and calmer throughout the day, your tipping point for stress will be much lower, and you will have more energy. If this isn’t happening then email me for advice.

If you have a recurring or nagging injury, back ache, high blood pressure, pre-menstrual tension, menopausal problems, injuries, high and low blood pressure, the 8 Treasures Qigong may help. But how can it help with all of these numerous problems? Because it taps into the body’s automatic wisdom and realigns the body so it works at its optimal level.

Please share this article and share your experience of Qigong in the comments below. And if you haven’t tried Qigong yet, then click here for your complete 8 Treasures Qigong package which includes everything you need to start your Qigong journey today.

The Shaolin Teachings Offer A Ladder Straight To Heaven

Human beings have an inner light that cannot be seen but is manifested as the techniques of Shaolin Kung Fu and Qigong. Daily life is a battlefield where are patience and wisdom are constantly tested. For any realisation we have in our Shaolin practice to be authentic, we must be able to apply it to the outside world. True understanding is reflected in our daily life.

When our heart is full of thinking, our body feels constrained. Through our Shaolin Practice we go beyond the chatter of the mind and access our true mind which is as clear as a mountain stream, pure, fresh and unpolluted.

Our body is not easily obtained. It is the most important job of a human being to take care of our body. This is done by returning our mind and body to its true natural home through the practice of Shaolin Kung Fu and Qigong. The purpose of our practice is to  harmonise our mind and body. The purpose of Shaolin Martial Arts is the harmonisation of human beings. There is nothing in the world that can not be harmonised.

If you have faith in your inner light and entrust everything to it, all be taken care of harmoniously. Can anyone sleep for you? Can anyone eat for you? Believe in your inner light.

This is my translation of some writing from a  well respected Shaolin master from the last century. I find these verses inspirational and hope you do too! 

Learn authentic Shaolin Kung Fu and Qigong with my booksDVDs and downloads. 

The Shaolin Secret To Health And Longevity

At the Shaolin Temple we’re required to study sutras and books written by our spiritual ancestors. Many of these teachings are focused on how to increase health and longevity.

“Your body is a treasured gift from heaven and earth. It’s your job to take care of it and nourish it through the practice of Shaolin Qigong. If you make an effort you will definitely see effects: your body will become stronger, you will be free of disease, you will lengthen your lifespan, and enjoy your life.”

Today, scientists are also studying health and longevity. Latest research shows that those who age the slowest have the best organ function and are the least likely to die. This demonstrates how important our internal organs are. Aerobic exercise has been shown to prevent memory loss, heart disease, diabetes, depression and obesity. Weight training stops our muscles from shrinking as we get older. But what about our internal organs? Because we can’t see them, we tend to only think of them when something goes wrong. But it’s the internal organs that govern the body.

Shaolin Qigong is the only exercise I know that stretches and exercises the internal organs. Kung Fu doesn’t do this, yoga doesn’t do this, and meditation doesn’t do this.The 8 Treasures Qigong is 8 of the most effective movements that the founder of Zen, Bodhidharma (Damo) taught to his disciples. These deceptively simple movements keep our body internally strong which is the key to keeping our mind strong and living well into old age.

I will be 43 this year and I still train as hard as I did when I was 14 because I practice Qigong and do the Instant Health Massage. If you’re a martial artist, MMA fighter, boxer, runner or you simply love to work out, you’ll find that Qigong increases your stamina, power and strength. Qigong optimizes your mind and body.

All you need to do is keep a regular practice of at least three times a week. And finish with the Instant Health Massage. The Instant Health Massage acts as a natural battery charger for our body and increases the effectiveness of our Qigong practice.

“You must temporarily put aside work that is not important and make time for Qigong. Taking care of your life is the most important job you have as a human being.”

Click here for the complete package which includes everything you need to learn The 8 Treasures Shaolin Qigong. 

Your 8 Week Shaolin Kung Fu Workout

When I began training at the Shaolin Temple the focus was on simplicity. This is the best way to approach Shaolin. The traditional Shaolin Temple punches, kicks and forms are specifically designed to change your muscles and tendons.

 Whether you’re training at the Shaolin Temple or training with my kung fu workout book and DVD in your home: day by day you transform your mind and body into a martial artist’s mind and body. But don’t think these exercises are just for beginners. I, along with most Shaolin monks and senior students still do these drills on a daily basis to fine tune my body and keep it working at its optimal. Here’s how you can do it.

Your Shaolin Kung Fu Training Plan

  1. Set a goal. Use four weeks to learn everything in my book. Within these 4 weeks you will know the movements and be able to follow my Shaolin Workout DVD. Then use the next four weeks to push yourself.
  2. Direct your focus. Take the focus off your problems and your limitations and focus on your goal. When you focus on your goal your problem will be smaller.
  3.  Run. At the Shaolin Temple we always begin our training with a run. Run for 10 – 30 minutes to warm your body then come home and follow my DVD.
  4. Learn a little, train a little. Make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly. Don’t use too much power as you want your mind and body to have memory.  When you can do the movement properly move on to the next exercise.
    Here’s an example: 10 push ups. 20 – 30 Traditional punches. Body Movement to relax the shoulders. Repeat x 5
    Squats x 20. Straight Kick. Squats x 20. Cross Kick etc. Move through the five fundamental kicks.

Click here to order your entire package which includes everything you need to get started on your Shaolin Journey today. And don’t forget to let me know how you get on in the comments below.



You Already Are What You Want To Become

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Top athletes use sport’s psychologists to train their minds to perform at their best in competition. Shaolin Monks use the psychology of Zen. This doesn’t mean that if you practice Shaolin you need to be a Buddhist but Zen philosophy can help you perform at the peak of your ability while staying focused and peaceful.

Aimlessness is an important Zen teaching which helps us to stop drifting into the future of “if” and “when”, and focus on the single point of now.

Aimlessness means: You already are what you want to become. Does a tree have to do something? The purpose of a tree is to be itself, and your purpose is to be yourself.

You have everything. There is no need to put anything in front of you and run after it. So, whatever it is that you believe you want – good health, more energy or to be an exceptional martial artist – you already have.

Bringing this energy into your Qigong and Kung Fu Workout will help you enter the raw experience  of Zen. For this month, check yourself and rather than constantly trying to improve yourself, train from the perspective that you already are what you want to become. Relax. There is nothing to strive for.

Shaolin Kung Fu and Qigong helps you to reach the potential in yourself that you only dreamt of before. Using the powerful energy inside your mind and body you can make yourself healthy and balanced. If you approach the Shaolin Arts with intelligence and determination, I guarantee you can bring to your life the wholeness, health and inner satisfaction that you seek.

To find out more about my on-line training click here for Kung Fu and here for Qigong.