In my process of learning and growing or learning to grow I came across Taoism. Already at a very young age I was half-unknowingly listening to the Tao-Te-Ching recited on my father’s tapes while he cooked me breakfast or lunch, for months on end… later I read books about it, and practiced movement forms that originated in Taoism, but it wasn’t until I started practicing TaoYoga Arts™ that I truly understood or at least glimpsed the vastness and wholeness of this life science.
As I tried gathering various tools or ingredients for the alchemical laboratory I’ve created with Integral Alchemy, I realized that most were already contained in the Taoist life science and practice (and far more elaborated than I could have come up with in a single life-time). I’ve decided there is no reason to re-invent the wheel. In fact the name integral alchemy came about as a play on the Taoist term “inner alchemy” or Nei Dan in Chinese, a term that really struck a chord with me, and Integral Theory, the other main component of this project.
TaoYoga Arts™ is a modern version of an ancient and almost lost art previously only transmitted as lineage tradition. It includes roughly speaking:
- movements coordinated with breath, often referred to as Qigong or Tao Yin,
- breath work,
- energy anatomy,
- various stages of energy-work within meditation,
- mental training and stillness training in meditation
- dietary guidelines
- as well as certain guidelines of conduct.
It includes the vast Taoist philosophy or teaching, which among other things speaks of the interconnection between humans and the natural environment, as microcosm and macrocosm, a reflection of one another – but this is not just seen as an abstract idea. It is incorporated into the way one practices, for example orienting oneself according to the sun or moon, or being present for certain celestial events like solstices and observing awareness or the world during these events.
The movements form the foundation of the practice as a form to rejuvenate and repair the physical body by various means and to prepare it for deeper energetic work, beginning the process of opening the meridians – the energetic channels within the body. There are more dynamic standing forms and sitting forms. These are the most commonly practiced parts of taoist yogas world wide, praised for their supposed healing powers, and often done entirely separate of the rest of the system. However with deeper understanding it is generally considered that the main transformations come from practices that are done in stillness and practices that are done internally while perhaps moving or sitting.
A whole set of guidelines of how to live, how to move, how to breathe in order to promote balance and harmony exists as the core principles of Taoist philosophy. They cover things like rest, sleep, sensible diet, exercise etc. While these guidelines may seem like common sense and almost trivial to a health-obsessed world with its hundreds of diet-fads, it is – as we can clearly see – not always trivial to follow these guidelines and often requires us to take a step back into a simpler and less contrived way of living.
The Way is always uncontrived, yet there is nothing it doesn’t do.
– Tao Te Ching
Also, ultimately, as stated several times throughout this webpage, the guidelines are replaced by a direct and intuitive access to truth from which all actions are then derived. No recipe, no formula, no rules can trump the direct intuition that is beyond knowledge and thought.
The best way of understanding what TaoYoga Arts™ is about and whether it is for you is to find someone to practice it with. As a level 1 instructor, I’m happy to share my understanding and my practice with anyone who is curious or feels called to it.