Taoist yoga uses gentle, seated postures to release long-term and daily accumulated stress and tension in mind, body and energy. Most postures are easier to do than those found in Hatha, Iyengar or power yoga, and the yin methodology emphasises letting go rather than stretching per se. For this reason, Taoist yoga offers several pathways to meditation practice right from the start.
In the beginning, basic postures are used to find comfortable positions for your body to rest, so you can relax, your energy can flow unrestricted and your mind can settle in and become calm. As you move from posture to posture, you seek to maintain this relaxed state and increase it. As you move deeper into postures, you’re always tuning into places where you feel gross or subtle resistance, and then stopping before they become magnified. You then use Taoist breathing methods to release any resistance you encounter. As you progress through one or more sets of yogic postures, you will systematically target different places in your body–particularly the internal organs–and progressively release deeper layers of tension.
The slow, yin approach employed by the Water tradition in Taoist yoga has three key phases of development:
- Body – Over time, you must release enough physical tension to increase flexibility and activate deeper energetic flows both in the surface and deeper channels of the body.
- Qi-energy – Once you have released enough physical tension, the focus shifts to making micro adjustments to your posture, breathing and the ways in which you apply your mind’s intent, so you can begin to generate abundant qi. With more energy, you can uncover and release the deeper blockages inside you.
- Mind – As you increase your health and general state of being in body and energy, the focus once again shifts to the mind. At this stage, meditation techniques seek to fully resolve the physical, energetic, emotional and spiritual blockages that reside within you by clearing the “roots” of all resistance and blockages.
Taoist yoga never forces the mind, body or energy. Smooth, continuous and balanced postures and breathing techniques are always encouraged within each posture and every transition. This yin methodology is particularly useful in the modern age, where we’re constantly under pressure and asked to push, strain or meet some type of goal or another. Bringing this goal-orientated energy into daily practice is not necessarily the healthiest means for dealing with stress for many people. Conversely, Taoist yoga offers a practical methodology for coping with and releasing tension as a yin-style exercise, so you can become the healthy, strong and free human being you were born to be…in mind, body and qi.