Taoism encompasses a wide range of practices from martial and healing arts, to yoga and meditation, to poetry, painting, calligraphy and geomancy, as well as methods for working with the Five Elements. All of them are ultimately contained within the teachings of the I Ching (Book of Changes). Although throughout the ages some Taoists have studied all aspects of Taoism, most certainly do not. Instead, each individual attunes to their path to what is relevant to their personal and spiritual development. That said there are core techniques which all Taoists train. They can be classified in three categories: the 16 nei gong, Five Element practices and I Ching arts.
To elaborate on yesterday’s post on the Bagua Circle Walking methodology, I’ve got more on how to really get your blood (along with lymph, interstitial, synovial and cerebrospinal fluids) to circulate strongly. Since the fluids are responsible for delivering nutrients to and removing waste byproducts from the body, boosting their circulation is one of the key ways that the Tao energy arts like bagua, tai chi and hsing-i foster incredible health from the inside out.
Bagua is first and foremost about the feet and legs, so any good training starts with learning and developing Circle Walking stepping techniques. In the monastic bagua tradition that I teach (for health, fitness, stress relief and meditation), there are two kinds of stepping:
- Heel-toe walking
- Traditional mud walking
Regardless of which type you choose, you don’t want to bob up and down like you’re on a boat at sea.
I always find watching students of the internal arts develop, grow and eventually graduate to becoming instructors as a source of encouragement in my own practice. It’s particularly rewarding when those new instructors are your students albeit humbling since however much you may give of yourself as a teacher, ultimately a student’s accomplishments are a product of their own efforts—hundreds of practice hours and effectively using the tried and true methods of the nei gong system.
My friend and long-term student, Mir Ali of Bedfordshire, has recently started offering bagua classes for beginners. He has trained the Energy Arts System since 2001 and became certified as a bagua instructor of our teacher, Lineage Holder Bruce Frantzis, in 2009. Mir discusses his personal odyssey through neigong training and why he finds bagua to be a special art worthy of sharing in his article that follows. —Paul Cavel
Balancing Exercises: How-to Video Lesson 8
All internal enery arts exercise ultimately intends to stimulate qi flow in your body. In fact, one reason external, postural alignments are a main focus in the beginning is to help optimise fluid (such as blood) and qi flow. So now that you have the basics of balancing your outer casing in your form, we’ll look at two primary flows in the body: ascending and descending qi.