Stephen Forde Daoist Arts, Tai Chi XingYi and Meditation

Stephen Forde

Daoist Arts and Martial Arts

Stephen Forde in a sitting meditation posture

YangShen Dao

Nourishing Life - The Daoist Path to Health

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Daoism and Health Cultivation - 

Yang Shen Dao


Yang Shen Dao is a phrase used to capture a range of activities that are used individually or in combination to achieve good health and longevity. These two aspects of being are seen as essential to those who follow Daoism as a way of life. As you may not know anything of Daoism, also spelled Taoism, I want to  provide a little context of the areas of training and study that you’ll find here.


Daoism is a truly ancient path, its roots can be traced back to the Late Neolithic period, prior to 2200 BCE, this period in history marks the establishment of agricultural settlements and the start of structured society as we know it. Daoist viewed the previous period;The Palaeolithic as being an ideal time in human history, when people lived in harmony with the seasons and nature. This was the period of the hunter gatherer.


inevitably over the passing centuries Daoism adjusted and morphed to reflect the realities and challenges of the world in which it existed. Many schools / sects (Pai) came and went and were in due course replaced with others. In more recent times once of the most influential schools; The Quanzhen Pai (Complete Reality Sect) was established. 


The Southern School has more in common, though via different sources, with Tantric Buddhism. The Southern School was not monastic and featured a more eclectic approach to study with a traditional Master / Student relationship. Because of this approach (harder to control) the current Chinese state does not approve of or support it in the way it does the Northern Sect. As a result practitioners of the Southern methodology tend to be dispersed amongst the Chinese diaspora across Asia and now the rest of the world. This is the path that I follow. 



A traditional landscape image illustrating the feaures and proportions of nature.

A Daoist Landscape Image

The Southern School seeks to balance the mental discipline of meditation with the physical aspects of Dao Yin and dietary control including what is referred to as Bigu which literally translates to avoiding grains. Like much of the Chinese language this is a metaphor. Grains in this context simply means food, in other words Bigu means fasting. There is now a great deal of modern research that shows the many benefits of a well managed fasting regime.


If you’re interested in learning more about Daoism, I’ve provided some links to books that I have found useful, they can be found here.


DaoYin actually translates as "guiding and leading", this refers to the idea that during the physical activity the mind is also engaged internally on guiding and leading energy through the body, it is this that is one of the main differentiators between it and Hatha / Vinyasa Yoga. You may think Daoist Yoga is new. While it is quite new to the west its history goes back over two thousand years.


The aim of DaoYin is to cultivate the three aspects of our existence; Vitality, Energy and Spirit (referred to as the three treasures - San Bao). 


The simple aim is to develop a relaxed, strong and flexible body and a calm, clear and focused mind. The postures although stretching should never be forced or painful, pain creates tension which is self defeating. It has been shown to be of great benefit in achieving and maintaining general health.


Meditation is often practised as an aspect of DaoYin, if your mind is anxious or hyper active, no amount of stretching will bring true relaxation. The technique has recently become popular in the media, it is currently being referred to as "Mindfulness". This is not a new type of meditation, but rather a focus on one particular aspect of meditation that has been used for centuries.


Most practitioners find that meditation is more effective and comfortable if it is done after a short DaoYin session. After a prolonged session of sitting a follow up DaoYin session is a great way to reinvigorate the body.


An-Mo Tui-Na are the original Chinese Bodywork Therapies that have been used for over 2,500 years. TuiNa is the forerunner of Japanese Shiatsu and Thai Massage, predating both by many centuries. It is a sophisticated system of holistic therapy based upon the traditional Chinese medical theory, being directed at lines of physical stress referred to as The Sinew Channels, balancing the body’s various systems; nervous, mental, skeletal, muscular and hormonal. 


BiGu (fasting) has a number of benefits. Firstly I should stress that the Southern Quanzhen Sect is not vegetarian, while it’s true to say that many practitioners are vegetarian it’s not a requirement. Bigu is used to help promote general health by resting and cleansing the intestinal tract and to help prepare the body for extended meditation.


Paired Cultivation

The subject of Sexual Yoga (Paired Cultivation) is one that can be traced back to the early history of Daoism. It has also at times been controversial. The controversial aspects really stems from shifting social attitudes, this was particularly true when Confucianism was at its height. This is an aspect of study that is a part of the Southern School, the Northern school being more meditative and monastic in nature would have no need of this aspect of study.

Private On-Line training can be arranged from £35. per 40 minute session.


If you’d like to discuss please email me to arrange a conversation.

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