Tao Yin is a form of energy-enlivening exercise originating out of the wealth of knowledge of China’s oldest system of philosophy, Taoism. Tao Yin is a series of revitalizing exercises that develop flexibility, strength, resiliency, and suppleness. These exercises create harmony within the body, mind and spirit through their integrative principles. Tao Yin is an integral part of the Universal Tao practice, leading one to discover balance within nature, and a way to move freely within the ebb and flow of life’s ceaseless current.
The name of this system of exercises is Tao Yin, and it means ‘energy directing.’ ‘Yin’ in this name is not the same as the yin that we know of in English as part of the yin yang symbol. That symbol represents the interaction of the energy of life’s complementary polar opposites, such as cold and hot. The Chinese character for yin, which means cold, is a single character and is quite different. The ‘Yin’ in Tao Yin results from the combination of two Chinese characters. The first character represents the Taoist concept known as mind-eye-heart power, YI (pronounced ee). The second character means ‘directing,’ and the pronunciation is translated into English as IN. Hence, the combination of the characters for YI and IN becomes YIN, meaning ‘mind-eye-heart power directing.’ When used with the character for Tao, the translation is roughly “directing Chi using mind-eye-heart power.”
Releases chronic tension, energy blockages, and toxicityTao Yin practice is used to release chronic tension, energy blockages, and toxicity that may have accumulated in your body over many years. Tao refers to the fact that physical movements are guided by the strength of the mind and in turn stimulate the internal flow of Chi within the body. ‘Yin’ means that with the aid of physical movements, Chi can reach the bodily extremities. These exercises activate Chi flow in the meridians, opening and strengthening them.
Stretching, not just muscles but also fasciaWhy stretch the body? Stretching brings the energy from the interior to the exterior, lengthening the meridians and bringing Chi to the surface. It feels good because this allows the energy to flow easily. Along with other Tao Yin techniques, stretching liberates the energy to flow freely where it needs to, balancing the Chi and restoring health to the whole body. By working progressively through the Tao Yin exercises and engaging most of the meridians, the benefits are multiplied throughout the whole body.
Most forms of stretching, like in sports, focus mainly on stretching muscles, whereas Tao Yin Exercise aims to stretch and energize also the connective tissue, the fascia. According to the 'science of stretching', rigidity developing in the fascia is the main reason for loss of flexibility as the body ages. During this process our elastic fibers are gradually replaced by rigid ones, ie. collagenous fibers. The result of which is decreased joint mobility, weakened muscles, hardened tendons, atrophying nerves: all actually caused by the breaking down of our connective tissue, which permeates the whole body. 'Sacks' of Connective tissue surround our organs, glands, muscles, tendons, joints and bones, and all this connective tissue indeed connects throughout the body. In Tao Yin practice we learn to direct our Chi to flow through the fascia, following the connection points in the fascia, which run along lines known as acupuncture meridians.
Meridians may be blocked by physical, mental, or emotional toxins and tensions. Just like a dam that blocks a river, that blockage stops the flow and creates stagnation. Above the dam the flow builds up to excess and below the dam the river bed or channel is empty, with little flow. In terms of the body this creates imbalance leading to sickness and ill health through an imbalance of excess Yang and deficient Yin (to illustrate but one example of an imbalance). Through loosening and stretching, the energy flows freely, allowing healing energy to permeate the whole body.
Like a ChildThe ultimate goal of doing Tao Yin Energy Directing Exercises is to become soft, pure, responsive and full of energy, like a child. Tao Yin can be used for physical, emotional and spiritual cultivation. Although these exercises are surprisingly simple to perform, they are sophisticated and effective in re-establishing the harmony we have lost between ourselves, nature and the universe. People from all walks of life use Tao Yin for their own personal development.
Yoga means, to yoke, to connect, to unify. Yoga is much more than a form of physical exercise, in fact the word Yoga represents a complete system of practices, known in the Yogasutra as "Asthanga Yoga', the 'eight limbs of yoga'. The first of these are (1) Yama and (2) Niyama, which in the classical Indian yogasystem had to do with the observances and abstentions of the Yoga practitioner, but for a present day yoga practitioner may be simply the (moral) factors that contribute to our own practice, such as: not being disturbed by emotions, nor distracted by the mind, practicing at regular intervals, practicing continuously and practicing without stress. The third 'limb of yoga' is the practice of Yoga postures, (3) Asana's, which then is what we know as Hatha Yoga, a physical practice which helps us to liberate our mind and body from stress and blockage, by opening, stretching and energizing specific areas or parts of the body through postures and (4) Pranayama, breathing. All these help us to become more conscious of our emotions, feelings and thoughts, gradually working through the blocks which hamper the flow of prana (life force) in the body. Thus our health increases, our personal and spiritual growth is enhanced and we gradually experience more peace inside and outside. Which then gives us the possibility to free our senses from their preocupations in the outside world, which in yoga is called (5) Pratyahara. Once these first five 'limbs' of the Yoga Path are mastered, we are ready to embark on the 'higher Yoga path' practicing (6) Dharana, concentration, (7) Dhyana, meditation and (8) Samadhi, supreme one ness.
The daily Yoga classes for the Winter season 2008/2009 in Tao Garden, will be taught by Ajahn Al, who has been a certified Healing Tao Teacher since 1992 and a certified Yoga Teacher since 1984. He studied Tao-Yin/Yoga with Master Mantak Chia for many years and studied different forms of Yoga and Meditation with a variety of teachers, such as Saswitha Yoga (a dynamic form of (Tibetan) Yoga), Iyengar Yoga (with Nanda Peek and Cle Souren in Amsterdam), Vāgyoga (the Esoteric Yoga of Sanskrit Language) and Mantra Yoga (which he first learned from Shyam Bhatnagar & Harish Yohāri in 1982 and later from the Brahmin Shri Tripāthi Vāgish Shāstri of Vārāṇasī). He then studied Tantrayāna Buddhism with Tibetan monks. Currently living and teaching at Master Mantak Chia's home base, the Tao Garden Resort, when not traveling to learn and teach elsewhere in the world.
In his daily open classses (except Sunday), Ajahn Al will present the entire Yoga system, so that everyone may choose their favorite Yoga:
10:00 -12:00 A.M. Private lessons: Therapeutic Yoga, using props and belts, to safely work on specific area's and problems of the body. This is done in cooperation with the physiotherapist.
14:00 - 16:00 P.M. Private lessons: Tao Yin & other Taoist Practices (Chi Kung, Tai Chi, Healing Love, Taoist Meditation)
16:00 - 17:00 P.M. Open Class
Meet our Tao Garden Yoga Team:
Khun Oi, Physiotherapist
Mr. Dirk Al, Yoga Teacher, Healing Tao Teacher
Khun Ek, Sport Sciences Specialist