Each of the four seasonal Tao Meditation retreats introduce pranayama-breath work-to beginners and advanced practitioners alike. The method is gentle, relatively easy to learn and highly efficient. It is the method used by tai chi, ba gua and qigong practitioners as well as martial artists and many performers, public speakers, lawyers.
Retreats are themed according to season and each retreat offers a balance of breath work, meditation and movement either in chi gong, ba gua circle walking, Tao yoga [yin yoga] or a combination.
The syllabus of all retreats includes:
- Feeling and sequentially releasing the diaphragm
- Becoming able to feel associated emotions and letting them go.
- Making the mind and body harmonious
- Feeling the breath in and through the respiratory and subtle systems
- Bringing awareness into the dan tien or hara.
- Using the technique while sitting, standing [nei gung], lying down [tao yoga], moving [qigong, ba gua tai chi or spontaneous movement and in interaction [two person exercises, discourse
- Increasing breath and chi
- Using increased breath and chi capacity to supply increased energy to the body.
Specifically targeting the release of accumulated stress, deep rooted stress and blockage and avoiding stress during movement and stretching, the technique seamlessly slides into meditation. Sliding into meditation, the thinking process stops, or we pay less and less attention to it. It is this absence of thought, of evaluation, of reflection which allows the chosen function to operate supremely well. That function might be asana, tai chi, ba gua or quite simply, being.
Rather than being a practice apart, the pranayama or Tao breathing, is always present, highly integrated into any activity we are engaged in.
Significantly, in daily life interaction, undertaking daily duties or facing sudden challenge, the breathing technique is still available and in place to keep the nervous system lively yet calm, the mind strong and stable yet fluid.
The Four Seasonal Retreats
During the Winter retreat the emphasis is on sitting meditation. This retreat offers the most detailed investigation of the physical and subtle path of Tao pranayama . During this retreat, as well as six or seven guided sessions each day there is one session of Tao [yin] yoga and on e general chi gung [qigong] session.
During the Spring retreat, there will be at least two daily guided sitting sessions where the breathing technique is investigated and practiced. The technique is applied during the qigong form ‘Marriage of Heaven and Earth’ which is suitable for beginners and advanced practitioners. Ba gua circle waking techniques will be taught so that practitioners can begin to apply the techniques while walking.
During the summer retreat, there will be two daily sitting sessions. Daily practice and training is in ba gua circle walking, static postures and palm changes. The training is adapted to each individual level. Ba Gua training and practice is fun, can be practiced at a variety of speeds, increases the capacity of breath and response of the nervous system under stress and offers direct experience of and insight into the nature and character of change. If your work or life are stressful, ba gua circle walking will provide a perfect way deal with it effortlessly.
During the Autumn retreat, There will be three to four daily sitting sessions and training in the complete set of twenty four postures that make up the Marrow Washing Classic qigong. Sitting sessions will introduce beginners to Tao pranayama fundamentals. Experienced practitioners will seek to develop increased awareness and sensitivity to breath and chi so that the increased awareness can be directed during the marrow washing. Marrow washing place strengthens the core-the marrow of the bones and the central energy channel and uses breath to discharge stagnant energy accumulated through poor breathing or poor energy circulation. If you enjoy classical hath a yoga, the marrow washing will provide a really positive addition to your practice or teaching repertoire.