Purging with Dao Yin
The term ‘Dao Yin’ can be translated as ‘leading and guiding’. Generally speaking, where Qi Gong is more concerned with the circulation and nourishing of energy within the body by looking inward and using gentle movements and breathing exercises, Dao Yin are more about purging the body with an emphasis on stretching open the lines of the Jin Jing or sinew channels with a strong outward focused intent or Yi. Dao Yin are said to be older than Qi Gong and they may have shamanic links from ancient times. Probably other traditions from different cultures around the world would have had something like these exercises too, it’s just that the Chinese arts have been relatively preserved, although there is probably much that was destroyed over the years, especially during the Cultural Revolution.
Pathogens from pollutants and viruses enter the body from the environment, mostly through the Tai Yin channel, and internally through stress and mental disturbances. If your Wei Qi or Protective Qi is strong they will find it hard to enter, but if not and the pathogen is stronger it will enter the body. These pathogens get stuck in the energetic matrix and the aim is to clear them out using Dao Yin before we can progress deeper. If we think of Qi as a vibrational wave of information, then we can attach our mind to it and lead it out.
"To be soft and flexible is the way of life"
Throughout Daoist thought, the metaphor of water was used to explain many functions and activities. If we take Qi as an example, it should be flowing and moving as naturally as possible. Our emotions are seen as movements of Qi, and due to how our mind works cause the energy or water to pool and stagnate, especially in the Qi Men or energy gates such as in the joints and between the vertebrae of the spine. The Jin Jing or sinew channels act as riverbeds for the Qi to flow through: hence we can see the link with rivers and streams which are in many Eastern theories, such as Chinese medicine.
Dao Yin can be quite draining on you so it’s better that you have built up your Qi levels first. At the foundation level, just focusing on circulation and regulation of the Qi as we do in Qi Gong practice is basically just moving information around. We need to clear out some of the debris from time to time, but not too much or it can deplete us: we need a balance.
Dao De Jing
Practically, we tease open the joints, lengthen the tendons and tissues, use breathing methods and finally bring it all together with our intention or Yi. Then Xie Qi or ‘Evil Qi’ is led out through the hands. Dao Yin are not that subtle, more like a sledge hammer approach as we push and guide pathogens out of the body.
If we have successfully cleared the blockages we can feel tired and drained the next day but also lighter and happier, like some weight has lifted from you. This allows our Qi to move more efficiently.
The exercises we use in Lotus Nei Gong, like the Dao Yin, act like a Swiss army knife allowing us to use them for a particular stage in the Nei Gong process.
Ideally to gain the maximum benefit from Dao Yin we should be at the stage where we have awakened our energy body and have built the Lower Dan Tian to some extent through Nei Gong practice and in particular with the Wuji posture. When the body is more ‘awake’ it is like an engine that is switched on, allowing us to move the pathogens out of the energetic matrix.
The Dao Yin we use in our classes are a set of five called the Wu Dao Yin, and also the Dragon Dao Yin, which are a set of Four that work extensively with the spine.