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The english version can be found at the end of the article

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Kiiko Matsumoto "Clinical strategies"
Kiiko Matsumoto"Hara diagnosis"
Artur Akhmetasfin "Chinese medicine"
Shandor Remete"Shadow yoga"
Alain Danielou"Yoga"
Ewa Wong"Taoism"

 The Stages and Order of Practice in the Oriental Schools

The culmination of spiritual development varies according to the different schools uniting with the universe (in schools influenced by Advaita); an experience of the void (in certain Buddhist schools); or immortality (in Taoism). While these differences stem from the seekers varying beliefs, the path their fulfillment requires the practitioners to tread is essentially one and the same.

For example the Vedic and Tibetan Yoga and the Chinese Taoist alchemy, all point to a similar path, despite their differing destinations. All these schools agree on the need to nurture the internal energy through physical practice, and then work with the transformed energy to generate a change of consciousness.

These approaches all maintain that the obstruction of energy is the main impediment which prevents practitioners from reaching their goal. A categorization of their intensity and impact can be derived from their time of creation; obstructions which generated in adulthood from age two till death; in childhood - from birth till age two; at birth; in utero, and presumably also in former incarnations. Obstructions of energy which originate earlier in life (of before it) tend to be graver and deeper, whereas those which were brought about later in life tend to be lighter and more superficial. It is hence easier to treat or work with obstructions which generated in life, and much harder to remove those which originate in utero.

Before we attempt to remove obstructions of energy we must therefore understand the characteristics of the various relevant stages of life. Such an understanding will allow us to identify obstructions and when they occurred. In this proccess we must also reveal the keys for decoding trauma. Since the Advaita, the Buddhist and the Taoist schools guide their practitioner to work with the physical body, our focus should be on physical characteristics, such as posture, muscle tone etc.

During its development the fetus goes through the various stages of evolution from a unicellular to a multicellular creature; from a fish breathing through its gills to a human being who breathes through his navel. In the final stage of embryonic development the fetus correct position is head down.

At birth itself, which constitutes a highly important station in our development, man passes from breathing through the navel to breathing through the lungs; from a head-down position to lying down; and energy-wise, from the extra meridians to the main meridians.

During the first years of life, besides lying down, infants learn how to sit down, to stand on four and on two, acquiring also the ability to crawl and later on to walk, as well as abdominal breathing. This stage ends with the acquisition of speech.

Two stages which for our purposes can be referred to in conjunction are life from age two or three till adolescence, and from adolescence till death. These phases are characterized by various ratios  of lying, sitting and standing poses, depending on ones circumstances in life; and unnatural, shallow, superficial breathing which normally centers in the chest and throat. The main difference between these two sub-stages stems primarily from the amount of hormones generated in the body, which varies according to age.

Practice, as well as its sequence, is deduced from a reversed order of evolution - from a single cell to a human being and from the understanding formulated by the masters, that trauma (which is equivalent to the obstruction of energy) is sealed in the body and mind through muscle tone, breathing patterns and posture.

The realization of these points allows us to understand how practice should be formed, and indeed why it is thus formed in the Advaita, Buddhist and Taoist schools.

Practice hence should begin with standing poses since this is the last posture that man acquires in life - which lead us to external, recently generated obstructions. At this stage practice should focus on patterns of standing postures, on balancing muscle tone and elongating the breath. The next stage comprises of postures which involve standing on six and on four, sitting and lying postures, combined with abdominal (Buddhist) breathing. Providing that we have been practicing correctly from the beginning, this stage should take us to the postnatal years of our life.

At this stage, which corresponds to the time of birth, the practitioner can focus on abdominal practice, and concentrate on obstructions which were deeply embedded in his or her constitution at birth. This stage focuses on the initial trauma of birth in general, and on the separation of the umbilical cord in particular. Inverted poses especially the head stand and embryonic (Taoist) breathing constitute a gate to the obstructions created in utero, which coincide with genetic problems.

The path to the initial embryonic stages in life is to be found in postures which comprise various animalistic attributes (such as postures named after animals) and in various breathing patterns related to the different stages of evolution, down to a unicellular creature which breathes through its body rather than the lungs.

A constructive spiritual process calls upon the practitioner to consider practice as a whole, to pay attention to order and rhythm; it requires him or her to implement the appropriate knowledge, techniques and tools for each and every stage, as well as an awareness of obstructed energy, coupled with a transformative ability; and clean practice, free of distractions or interfering influences. Practice itself is not meant to be a matter of a few hours daily. Gradually, the practitioner should dedicate his or her whole day to practice. The change should permeate every aspect of life. Until this happens, the practitioner should support the process with an appropriate life style one that purifies and strengths on all levels.

In many cases, when imbalance is rooted deep within, the practitioner is in need of a preliminary stage, which incorporates therapy and preparation work. The tools and technique in this stage are different from those presented here, and shall be brought forth in the next article.



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