Wednesday, 30 June 2010

What is Do-In?

Do-In is the Japanese name given to an ancient exercise practice that promotes health as well as physical, mental and spiritual development. It is an integral part of the Taoist philosophy that became Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Do-In, or Tao Yinn in Chinese, is said to have been around for 10,000 years and developed from the instinctual need to create balance in the body. It is the refinement of the natural activities of breathing, moving, pressing, rubbing and stretching into a system of exercises and techniques that create flow and harmony of the forces that influence the body.

The book, the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, estimated to be more than 4,000 years old, described the various methods developed across China for the treatment of disease in each region at that time. Treatments like acupuncture, herbs and moxabustion were developed in the outlying regions of the country. The treatment methods developed in the central region were breathing exercises, massage and exercises of the limbs or put another way Do-In and Massage.

With its use of simple acupressure, Do-In would have been practised by peasants who couldn't afford to retain the services of a trained medical practitioner and treatments like acupuncture and herbs. Physicians, who were paid only while their clients were well, would have encouraged Do-In as preventive medicine. Monks incorporating Tao Yinn to their spiritual practice refined it further to develop Qi Gong. The term Tao Yinn or Dao Yin today is largely used to describe a particularly old and diverse aspect of Qi Gong.

General Do-In applies tapping, rubbing and acupressure to stimulate points in the body’s meridian system. Improving the flow of energy (Ki in Japanese, Qi or Chi in Chinese) as would be done in the massage practices of Shiatsu and Tui Na only with self massage. It is not necessary to know much about the principles that inform Do-In and the other Oriental therapies like acupuncture, and shiatsu, however continued practise is a great way in which to learn Traditional Chinese Medicine and to practise Taoist philosophy.

Within Do-In there is also a series of specific breathing, stretching and movement techniques. These techniques include yoga-like stretches that are used to diagnose and promote the flow of Ki in the meridians. Breathing and imagery exercises promote mental and spiritual development as well as mind and body to coordination.

One of the benefits of Do-In is that you can do as little or as much as you like. If you only have a few minutes there is an exercise that would suit the time you have available and how you feel at that moment. If you have a lot of time and are keen to improve your well being on a regular basis then you can bring together a range of techniques to create a regular exercise and development regime.

As well as promoting good health and preventing illness, Do-In helps give relief for a large number of common ailments. Techniques applied across the scalp can help ease a headache or applied across the sacrum or abdomen can ease menstrual pain. Do-In includes acupressure and therefore includes all the points available to an acupuncturist or shiatsu practitioner, if you can reach them.

Do-In is really any act or exercise one can do, without the assistance of others, that promotes health and self awareness and in particular awareness of the energetic flow of the body. Exercises like Yoga, Qi Gong and the exercises that support the eastern and martial arts are all basically Do-In. The chances are if you have practised a martial art you have already been exposed to Do-In.