The Deer Exercise: Male Sexual Health & Taoism

The deer, in Taoism, is identified as an animal who lives long and has a healthy sexual appetite. There are other animals, such as the crane and the turtle, that are identified in Taoism who live long and healthy lives, but the deer’s strong sexual and reproductive characteristics makes it stand out among the rest. The deer was observed constantly exercising its anus. The exercise was adapted for humans and the deer exercise was invented.

In 1986, Dr. Stephen T. Chang published his research on the deer exercises in The Tao of Sexology: The Book of Infinite Wisdom. I picked up this book during sexology school and it fulfilled a need that I had been hoping to find: how to use a person’s sexual energy to heal the body and promote health. Western cultures have demonized sex for so long that it was difficult to find exercises that used a person’s sexual energy to promote health. We can find plenty of studies on how good it is to exercise every day. We can even find information on mindfulness, but harnessing one’s sexuality is still left out.


Benefits Of The Deer Exercise

The deer exercise has four claimed benefits that Western medicine should start to study:

  • The first benefit is that it builds tissues of the sexual organs, strengthening your pelvic floor and creating longevity.
  • The deer exercise promotes blood circulation and enforces the energy pathway from your sexual glands up to your pineal gland (an endocrine gland located in your brain that produces hormones such as serotonin and melatonin).
  • Self-determination is the third benefit, which I interpret as somatic energizing through tracking the flow of energy in your body. Your sexual energy should start from your sexual glands, the prostate and the testes in males, and travel up to the adrenal gland, the pancreas gland, the thymus gland, the thyroid gland, the pituitary gland, and finally reaching the pineal gland. If you cannot feel the energy reaching all the way up this path, there is a blockage that should be addressed. This blockage could represent an emotional or physical obstruction. One should be focused on feeling, not creating, the energy flow and be aware if it stops short of the pineal gland.
  • The final benefit is what Western culture tried to address with lots of those little blue pills that prolong sexual stamina and build up sexual ability. The deer exercise addresses the energy loss in semen secretion and works on capturing and repurposing the energy in semen. 


How To Do The Deer Exercise 

Now that you are sold on the benefits of the deer exercise there are a couple of Taoist tips that you need before I introduce the exercise:

  • Keep your mind focused on the intention of the exercise.
  • Don’t force feelings or energy flow; you are observing, not creating.
  • Like most Taoist experiences, this should be a simple and easy exercise—don’t overcomplicate it.


There are two stages to the deer exercise. The first stage promotes blood flow and semen production. The second stage incorporates internal exercises. In order to keep the information concise, I have copied the instructions from Dr. Chang’s book.


Stage 1 (easier if completely naked):

  • Get in a comfortable position, sitting, standing, or lying down.
  • Rub your hands together until they create heat.
  • With your right hand cup your testicles so that the palm of your hand completely covers them. Just a slight pressure should be felt.
  • Place the palm of your left hand on the area of your pubis, one inch below your navel.
  • With a slight pressure so that a gentle warmth begins to build in the area of your pubis, move your left hand in clockwise or counterclockwise circles 81 times.
  • Rub your hands together to create heat again.
  • Reverse the position of your hands so that your left hand cups your testicles and your right hand is on your pubis. Repeat the circular rubbing in the opposite direction another 81 times.


Stage 2:

  • Tighten muscles around your anus and draw them up and in. Think of holding in your pee. Tighten as hard as you can and hold as long as you are able to do so comfortably.
  • Stop and relax completely.
  • Repeat anal contractions. Do this as many times as you can without feeling discomfort.

In this stage you should feel the energy, a tingling sensation, move up from your sexual glands up to your pineal gland. Do not manifest this energy with thought, just allow for it to happen.


Who can benefit from the deer exercise?

Dr. Chang claims that the deer exercise for men can help with impotence, premature ejaculation, and overall health. I like to use it with my patients who have suffered with trauma or chronic pain. Trauma can make it difficult to meditate since often times the body’s memory wants to take over when the mind is quiet. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can make it extremely difficult to quiet the mind and the deer exercise is a great alternative to traditional meditation.