Hermits practicing meditation or trance for long periods of time sometimes develop poor circulation, muscular atrophy or digestion problems â€“this tendency inspired the development of exercises which can be done in a small space to balance the rigors of long periods of stillness. Daoyin lineages contain many layers of knowledge which have been passed down to adepts over the centuries, they are however focused mainly on developing a body which can maintain its vigor through long periods of stillness or during long periods of specialized fasting.
Systematic Daoyin looks a bit like hatha yoga mixed up with vigorous slapping, rubbing, pounding, bouncing and rolling. Individual exercises could also be extracted to treat specific ailments, but it is a mistake to say that daoyin is the same thing as qigong.
I do not reject innovation or re-invention but it is kind of funny to think of office workers cramped up in their cubicles taking a little "daoyin" break--But thatâ€™s one of the characteristics of modernity: Culturally and historically miss-match activities sharing the same space. Often the result, while sometimes humorous, is inappropriate enthusiasm obscuring shallow appreciation of tradition.
(Because Paulie Zink (see Below) teaches a daoyin lineage that is thoroughly integrated into what appears to be a performance tradition of monkey gongfu, it is possible that daoyin began as a performance tradition. It is also possible that it became part of what we might call a 'youth training program' for the Sung Dynasty version of a "Renaissance Man." )