The Essence of Tao Yin, Practices for Rejuvenation
Full Body Breathing is the first and perhaps the simplest practice in the 45-movement set of Tao Yin exercises. However, this simplicity should not fool one as to the depth inherent in this ‘preparatory’ practice. As is the case in life and the Tao, simple is enough. The entire essence of Tao Yin, and possibly the entire Healing Tao system, can be experienced during the practice of Full Body Breathing.
The practice begins by lying on our backs, with hands on the abdomen, sexual palace, or hips, (depending on our arm length) and breathing deep down into the lower centers of our body. As we flood awareness into these areas, we are activating the reproductive glands and inviting the muscles, tendons and ligaments to soften and relax. Additionally, we exhale our emotions and mental activity at this level, and allow them to sink down into the earth. We follow this with an inhalation of the earth’s loving, healing energy back into our hips, navel, and sexual center. We can stay at this level of the body as long as we choose. If done at night, we may fall asleep state here, beginning a process that can continue throughout the night. The microcosm of our body flows in harmony with the macrocosm of the earth. We begin to experience its harmony within us.
If we remain awake, we may slowly move our hands up from the lower centers, one at a time, to our upper centers; in the order of: perineum, sexual center, navel, solar plexus, heart, throat center, third eye, and crown. As we flood each area with awareness, we are activating the corresponding glands, organs, and the spine. Our awareness follows our hands and initiates a process of rejuvenation that spreads throughout our body. The Taoists say that “the health of the spine is the health of the body.” Full Body Breathing brings awareness to each vertebra as we intentionally move from the perineum to the crown of our head.
The entire Healing Tao system, as outlined by Master Chia, follows the core channel up through this same pattern. Full Body Breathing corresponds to Iron Shirt’s rooting philosophy, moves to the center of Fusion of the Five Elements Part 1 and Lesser Kan and Li’s cauldrons at the navel. Next, the breathing moves to the solar plexus to activate the site of Greater Kan and Li and an image of the Earth herself can be seen three-dimensionally at the solar plexus. At the heart, the Greatest Kan and Li center, the practitioner can see our bright shining sun and a deep purple inner sun as the hear opens and spreads its love to the immediate environment. Finally, Full Body Breathing moves through the throat, the center of expression, to bridge the link between our heart and head. At the head, the seat of Star Alchemy and the Crystal Palace, the brain cells can come alive like the starry sky on a clear night.
Of course, the tremendous benefits of Full Body Breathing can be felt in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels without any knowledge of the Healing Tao system. The level of depth during the practice is open and available to your intention and the focus of your practice on that day. Full Body Breathing is helpful because it can accommodate many layers of awareness and results in one simple exercise. Not a bad practice for just “laying around!”