Dao yin 導引 is an ancient Daoist practice of aligning and stretching movements that are introduced before the cultivation of tranquil sitting begins to help the body adapt to the physical posture.
Whether we are sitting in one of the cross-legged postures or on a kneeling stool, most of us struggle with this in the beginning. We are not used to sitting still and soon become uncomfortable and restless.
Like a whirlpool that disrupts the natural flow of the river, the repressed emotions and physical contractions that we accumulate and hold throughout our lives distort our original Qi pattern. We often experience this as impatient restlessness, a sense of disconnection and a struggle to be present – we feel uncomfortable in our own skin.
The cultivation of dao yin releases the over-stimulated and restless Qi by smoothing the turbulence in the physical and emotional aspects of our being.
This refining process begins with self-massage to warm the body and invigorate the flow of body fluids and Qi. They are followed by soft, open stretching movements and postures that help gather the Qi in stillness.
These aligning movements encourage the Qi pattern to return to its original shape, gradually restoring the free flow of Qi and helping bring softness and balance to the bodymind as a whole.
Through this deeply nourishing and restorative cultivation we can enter tranquil sitting in a very simple and open way, allowing stillness to embrace us.