Yoga Eka Pada Galavasana Pose

Chinese and Taoist Refinements

METAPHYSICAL TAOISM The Metaphysics of the Tao Are Associated to the Notions of the Chi, the Yin, and the Yang

Metaphysical Taoism, or ontological Taoism for some, is known to us today through the my yoga blog of divination, called the I Ching,1 and the theory of acupuncture. To introduce these domains, I will discuss three terms that are often used by Chinese authors:

1. The Tao. The universe was at its origin an immense chaos. Gradually, a process that the Chinese call the Tao came to be. This process became the structuring dynamic of the known universe. The Tao is a force that no one can understand, but its impact on our organism can be experienced.2

2. The yin and the yang. The Tao has two component forces called the yin and the yang. Their combinations form various systems that we humans can perceive. To sense how these forces balance each other in one’s organism and around oneself and then sense in which direction they flow is to accommodate oneself to the Tao. This Tao is thus a way, a path. It is not a state that produces movement and multiplicity but a dynamic that is organized by all that it produces. The yin is the energy that stabilizes, and the yang is the energy that sets things in motion. Thus, all the systems of the universe contain stabilizing and creative dynamics.

3. The chi. The chi is a force linked to respiration that diffuses its influence throughout the organism This notion is close to that of prana in India because it can be related to the impact of the internal respiration on the dynamics of the organism However, the chi is more independent of respiration than the prana, because it relates to all the forces that influences the metabolism of an organism Thus, the chi is activated not only by breathing techniques but also by gestures, by the mind, and by acupuncture needles.

This model served as a reference point around which Chinese culture has woven thousands of variations.

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