Methods for Nourishing Vitality and a Long Life
Yang Sheng Fa
Level Four of the Soma Dao Qi Gong Teacher Training
Most of the people I meet in the Qi Gong world who are also interested in studying human Health and Preventative Medicine, have experienced a personal health challenge and need healing, want to be more supportive of their friends and family, and/or are considering a career in Health Care.
If your Qi Gong journey has been inspired by a chronic personal health challenge, the ancient tradition of Yang Sheng Fa can help you support your health and healing in some very comprehensive ways. If you are interested in helping others, these tried-and-true methods of nourishing health, rooted in the oldest living system of medicine in the world, will help you have a good foundation in preventative medicine.
The Chinese characters for Yang Sheng Fa (養生法) describe feeding your leftovers to your goat, just in case you need to eat your goat to stay alive. Some aspects of Chinese philosophy are very pragmatic, but also respectful of the ebb and flow of one’s resources, one’s vitality, and one’s challenges. Yang Sheng Fa is a lifelong daily practice of self-care that involves all aspects of your life, even the humble and seemingly unimportant parts. This approach to living a conscious and healthy life is all about balance, seasonal rhythms, and living a very long, conscious, and healthy life.
In many Spiritual traditions, especially the ones that focus on meditation, how you live your life, how you eat, your level of fitness, your emotional intelligence, and your ability to create comfort and ease, are all expressions of dedication to your Path. Also, because meditation is so profoundly meaningful and Spiritual Awakening so elusive, preparing for a long and vigorous life has always been the Way.
Combining your Qi Gong practice (and teaching) with a Yang Sheng Fa practice has always been a successful marriage in the history of Daoist Cultivation. The principles and practices of Yang Sheng Fa are rooted in thousands of years of experience, of both healers and those who have needed healing. A principle of Daoism, called Zi Ran, reminds us all that life is always changing, and so is the understanding of how bodies work, what slows aging, and what is causing the most common illnesses of the day.
Although I am very invested in the ancient healing wisdom that I have learned, I am also very passionate about staying at the leading edge of Functional Medicine, lab testing, and nutraceutical protocols. If you like science and are interested in a systems-based approach to healing, Functional Medicine is essentially Chinese medicine with a Microscope.
Throughout this Ten Week Healing Journey, I will share a balance of the old and the new, what has gone wrong, what works,
and most importantly, why!
This 10 Week Journey will cover the following traditional aspects of Yang Sheng Fa.
- The Yang Sheng Tradition – how much family folk medicine did you grow up with? Learning a seasonal, sensible, lifestyle, diet, fitness, and longevity tradition will hopefully turn you into your family’s ‘folk healer’. Weird herbs, teas, potions, and all. Most people who fall in love with the Yang Sheng lifestyle become really good cooks, fitness enthusiasts, meditation students, conscious communicators, and sexually much more playful and intimate lovers.
- Chinese Medicine 101 – if you are ill and want to understand how to get healthy, you need to know what went wrong. To understand what went wrong, you need an understanding of how your internal organs, glands, systems, and enzymes work. You don’t need to become an expert; you just need a clear overview. The Chinese medicine model of organs, substances, and systems is very comprehensive and easy to understand. The differences with the modern scientific modal are minimal and mostly symbolic.
- The Four Constitutions and The Five Taxations – if you are not healing from a condition but want to personalize your healing path as meaningfully as you can. If you have a Wind Constitution and spend all of your days in a chair, that is where you begin, and those are the specific conditions you need to balance, change, or support.
- A Seasonal Diet – how much water you need in a day, the best proportions of fats, proteins, and plants, how much to eat, and what to avoid, are all determined by the seasons. Every food, herb, spice, and oil has certain energetic and healing properties. Over thousands of years, people have discovered the best combinations to promote health throughout each season of the year.
- Metabolic and Spiritual Fasting – fasting is one of the oldest and most effective forms of healing. Today, in a world of excesses, fasting is becoming a real lifesaver. There are many styles of fasting and reasons to fast. There are also profound, deeply personal, and transformational experiences that occur with extended fasting.
- Balancing Tone and Pliability in all of Your Muscles and Membranes – one of the most surprising things you will learn is how your muscles and fascia function as internal organs. They both work in different ways to regulate your metabolism, adapt to chronic distress, and maintain an effective immune system.
- Detoxification and Healthy Fat Loss protocols – throughout the seasons of the year and seasons of your life, you may need to ‘change things up’ in some very specific ways, for enough time to restore your body’s natural ability to burn fat or eliminates toxins and wastes.
- Fertility and Longevity protocols – there are countless factors in why some people can have many children and why others must try for years. There are some common themes that improve libido, fertility, and longevity all at once, for both men and women. If you commit to a Yang Sheng life and focus on longevity, you will live a very long life, and more importantly, you will be happy and healthy until your last day.
- Finding Life, Work, Rest, Play Balance – balancing your Adaptive Resources and Erosive Influences is an equation that can be used to balance and heal any organ, system, habit, or schedule.
- Seasonal Fitness strategies for young and old – depending on your interests, age, and where you live, what is available for fitness opportunities will vary. From a Yang Sheng perspective, what you do for exercise is not as important as what your body needs more and less throughout the year.
- Sleep Hygiene – modern life, especially the overuse of screens, has changed the way we sleep. Chronic poor sleep has been linked with many chronic illnesses, not to mention the wear and tear on a person’s mind and soul. Sleep hygiene is a step-by-step sequence of changes that you can make to ensure that you are getting into deep enough sleep, for long enough, every night.
- Mental and Emotional Hygiene – the Yang Sheng Fa tradition has some very wise and skillful approaches to a more mindful life, as well as an entire practice for developing Emotional Intelligence.
- Conscious Parenting – the best way to make more healthy adults is to raise as many healthy and happy children as possible. Learning a few pointers from ancient indigenous cultures (Daoism) about raising children may just be what the modern world needs. I find these tools very helpful when you are learning to befriend your inner child as well.
- Sacred Intimacy – Qi Gong and Daoist practice exist in reverence to the dynamic energies of Nature, the Sky, and the Land. These practices are just as deeply invested in the interplay of energies between sexual Beings. Just like Qi Gong has instinctual, intuitive, emotional, and existential qualities; so do sexuality and intimacy. Handed down for generations, these common sense and playful approaches to a healthier, more joyous, and loving sex life are some of the most popular things I teach.