Taoist Yoga Notes

Compiled By Nathan Mutanda Chukueke

The following text is from my personal notes on aspects of Taoist yoga compiled over many years. Later I will add Jnana and Raja Yoga of Indian elements and then compare both to Chinese Taoist yoga.

The text was written in attempt to compare different yoga traditions and methods to show the common elements and strengths.

As a student of Rosicrucian metaphysics I believe that these methods of growth/enlightenment are a part of the spiritual river that universal and leads to other mental, spiritual, and moral states of being and awareness. Traveling upon this river is not for all, but for those who do voyager this path, I hope these notes will help.

Taoist Theory

Ching Chung Yuan in his book: Creativity and Taoist points out that there are two ways of seeking union with the Tao. The first method is Ming []. This is usually road the of exercise and breathing. The other method is Ching. Ming is usually a nonphysical creative way of attaining the Tao. Ming is the path of enlightenment that can be found in art and intellectual investigation. In some ways Hatha Yoga is like Ching, they are both physical paths of enlightenment. One will find that Jnana Yoga is like Ming: in that they both try to attain union by the creative expression of consciousness and spirit by non physical means.

The Taoism believes that one should in live in a non‑stressful way of life. The best way to have a stress free life is to live peacefully and simply. Like Raja Yoga, Taoist attempts to blend mind, body, and sport. In both one will find belief that human consciousness must be still and clear to finds union with higher forms of being. Physical Yoga tries to make a clear as possible link between mind, body, and spirit.

Let us compare the Chinese and Hindu ways of looking at maintaining a healthy aware body. First its a good idea to review how the Chinese view human internal body dynamics. As we already know the neurons of the human nervous relate to the concept of prana in Hatha Yoga. In China prana may be compared of flow of chi in the body. Both are conceived as being the part of the foundation of life and all existence. This reasoning once again goes back to the idea that proper breathing is the foundation of enlightenment. The pipeline on which the prana travels is known as the nadis. In China the nadis are called medians. If one looks into Acupuncture one will find much material on the science of the meridians.The Chinese version of the seven chakras is know as the five vitalities or the five elements of the human internal organ physiology. In the drawing the five vitalities are merged with the Yin\Yang concept.

The goal of chi development is to complete of journey which leads to the creation of a immortal foetus. When this egg is born one should have already found harmony of mind, body and spirit. With the birth of the egg one attains rebirth and liberation from the physical world.

The Taoist method of breathing is like those used by the Hindu people. The main theory to remember is the microcosmic orbit. This is the Taoist method of focusing and channeling the breath. The spaces between the five vitalities or chakras are called “gates.” Chinese Chi Gung theory also uses the idea of gates when discussing breathing energy.

It is the channel of control and function are the two of eight main roads that chi travels to get through those gates. The five vitalities can relate to the five elements. Both Hindu and Taoist believe that the breath must be done in cycles. This type of breathing in designed to give energy to all the various parts of the body. One of the Taoist Yoga skills of importance is foetal breathing. The postnatal vital breath is where one imagines that their breath is coming from ones heels to their head and back down to their waist. This method is one of many creative Taoist breathing methods. Like Pranayama Taoist breathing methods are done in a series of rounds, increases in number as one attains more skill.

Taoist Exercise

Taoist exercise is simple to explain. Chinese sages of ancient time believed in slow, relaxed, flowing movement. Most Taoist movement finds its center of balance in the rotation of the spinal column at its base. It is the spinal column and the energy that passes through it, that is important in both Hindu and Taoist physical arts. Tai Chi Chuan is the most well known of the Mo Dong or Taoist schools of Yoga. This physical exercise is a type of Chi Gung or moving meditation. Tai Chi Chuan is not only a physical form of exercise but also a martial arts. The Tai Chi master uses his attackers energy against him, by the deflection of hardness with soft focused energy. In Tai Chi muscle tension is to be avoided.

A Tai Chi artist focuses much of his/her time on the their breathing. If one is breathing from the waist and that is where a ones center of gravity a great amount of energy can be created. In order to attain this balance of body and spirit, ones breathing again must be relaxed. Like Pranayama, ones breathing must be done in and out through the nose, not the mouth. It should be mentioned that a light flowing energy balance is partly maintain by a delicate process of weighting and un-weighting of the physical body as one moves through space. Most Taoist Chi Gung uses the same basic ideas used in Tai Chi Chuan.

In general one of the main differences between the Hindu and the Taoist school is the use of movement. The Hindu say they don’t use movement but in reality there is much movement of the physical muscles. The asanas of Hatha Yoga can be very physical. The muscles are used, in a relaxed way, as one moves through the different Hatha Yoga postures. There is muscle development in Hatha Yoga, it may not be gross, but ones physical tissue fiber is toned. It is the movement through space that is the main difference in between these two Asian forms of Yoga.

The Chinese move through a larger linear area of space than the Hatha Yoga people do. This movement is done in a very slow flowing manner. While doing this chain of contiguous movement patterns one is focusing on the internal balance of the five elements. The Hindu center on the chakras and prana traveling through them. It is also not well known, but the Taoist do have static physical exercises that interface with some Hindu theories.  Nui Gung is the Chinese Taoist version of very minimal movement of India’s Hatha Yoga exercises . These postures are usually done standing. Ones main focus is on easy breathing and spinal alignment. One example of Nui Gung is Sun Nui Gung. In this Yoga one just stands with their legs a shoulders length apart. Your hands are in front of you aligned as if you were reading a wide newspaper. You focus on wide slow and deep breaths.

The issue of movement is a metaphysical point mainly. Purusha as being the ultimate state of existence for the Hindus does not have energy. The Hindu believe that energy moves therefore is not pure. Movement is change and that is some how not pure. Purusha is pure. The equal of this concept in Taoism is the void from with all things come. In this Taoist concept energy and movement do exist, but their unity exist in the perfect harmony that it seems that they don’t move at all. The void can be seen as a cosmic version unity & harmony of the five elements.

Taoist Breathing

The Three Treasures are one of the basic Taoist texts and concepts that relate to enlighten. It may be seen as a form of self cultivation through the medium of breathing yoga. The three treasure are chi, ching, and shen. Chi or vitality is common translated as breath, the life force or regenerative force. Shen is considered spirit as in the kind that lay with in one from the time of birth to death.

There are many types of shen here are a five of them. Yin Shen, Yang Shen, then Sun
Hun which has three parts: Hsin Shen, Ming Shen, Ling Shen

1. Yin []

Shen; negative spirit

2. Yang []

Shen; positive spirit


The next three spirits are called the Sun Hun or The Three Spiritual Energies.

3.  Ming Shen; bright spirit

4.  Hsin Shen; mind/heart spirit

5. Ling Shen; immortal spirit

There are many types of chi. The following table list five primary chi types.

Chen Chi: healthy physical vitality.

Hsieh Chi: Unhealthy body

Ching Chi: Life force essence

Yuan Chi: Primal energy
of all life

Ku Chi: energy from

Chung Chi: a mix of heaven
& earth.

1. Chen Chi: healthy physical vitality. There are two forms of Chen Chi.  Wei Chi [Yang] and Yeng Chi [Yin]

2. Hsieh Chi: Unhealthy body energy

3. Ching Chi: Life force essence which meets and fuses as a result of sexual intercourse.

4. Yuan Chi: Primal energy of all life forms. Yuan Chi is maintained by the functioning of one’s internal organs. The fitness of ones yuan chi influnce the quailtiy of ones life, both spiritually and physically.

5. Ku Chi: energy derived from the food one ingests. This energy first goes to the spleen and then the lungs

6. Chung Chi: This is a mixture of heaven and earth. Air is heaven, which comes from the lungs and earth is the food you eat You may note that chung chi and ku chi are very much interrelated. As one’s yuan chi or primal energy flows through ones organs chung chi becomes chen chi. Restated the energy from food gives the lungs fuel which helps maintain healthy homeostasis.

Anatomy of Chi Gung

There are four gates of the microcosmic orbit the microcosmic orbit

1. The first gate is the Wei lu. It is located at the base of the spine.

2. The second gate is the Chia chi. It goes up from the back bone and is located between the kidneys.

3. The third gate is the Yu ch’en. It is to be found in the back of the head.

4. The fourth gate is the Ni wan. It is the brain.

Then chi goes back down passing one face, chest, and then abdomen before returning to the point of origin.

Microcosmic Orbit Four Cardinal points.

1. The first is north or Tzu: at the root of penis. This is where generative force is               accumulated.2. The second point is south or Wu: at the top of the head.

3. The third is east or Mao:  at the back of the body.

4. The fourth is west or Yu: at the front of the body.

Tan Tian

There are at least three tan tians. The lower Tan Tian: lower abdomen under the navel, at about one and half inchs. It is divided into inner and outer cells. In the outer lay the

positive and negative principles. It also is the home of vital breathing. It is the place where feotal breathing come forth. Lastly, in and out breathing start here. The inner cell is where the vital breathe and feotal in created.  It is known as the house of serenity.

The middle Tan Tian: solar plexus

The upper Tan Tain: brain

The five vitalities must be joined with the channel of control and function. The channel of function is the path of chi going down the front of the body, from the brain to base of the reproductive organs. The channel control is the chi going from the base of the spine to the brain. The two channels make up what is know as the microcosmic orbit. These channels are needed to join the chi of the five elements in harmony. The negative and positive principles in the creation of the immortal fetus can be seen as the Yin and Yang off the body. The five elements and the Yin and Yang are joined to complete a balance of body fluids and organs. This balanced nature is the fuel of enlightenment. (Lu K’uan Yu, 124.)

Partly adapted from:

Ni- Hua-CHing’s book Tao “The Subtle Universal law & the Integral Way of Life”, The Shrine of the Eternal Breath of The Tao, Malibu, California

Lu K ‘uan Yu (Charles Luk), Taoist Yoga “Alchemy and Immortality”, Samual Weiser, Ine. York Beach, Maine. 1973, 0-87728-067-3