Do-In

Do-In (pronounced ‘dough-in’) is a form of self-therapy based on an ancient system of gentle stretching exercises for physical and spiritual development. The emphasis of Do-In is on strengthening and invigorating the whole body in order to generate happiness, longevity and self-awareness. Most of the exercises can be practised at home, with or without initial instruction from a teacher.

Do-In involves boosting the flow of energy around the body using a system of exercises. Encouraging energy to flow freely is believed to promote health and wellbeing. Do-In has its origins in ancient Chinese and Japanese therapies and religions.

CONCEPTS OF DO-IN

All Do-In exercises are designed to encourage the smooth flow of Ki – the Japanese spelling of Qi (energy) – through the body to keep the organs healthy and prevent disease, as well as to develop correct breathing, mindfulness and body awareness. These gentle exercises also aim to promote harmony with the environment – ideally they should be practised in the open air in pleasant surroundings. The ultimate goal of Do-In is spiritual and physical development on an individual basis for the greater good of society.

The Do-In exercises shown in this section are stationary and meditative; others involve walking and ritual dances to enhance vitality. Do-In also includes massage therapy.

ORIGINS OF DO-IN

Do-In, which means ‘conducting and leading energy’, originated in China, where it was linked with Taoism and Chan Buddhism. It was further developed by the Japanese. Like Do-In, the Japanese martial arts, such as Judo, Aikido and Kendo, also focus on the flow of Ki. The Do-In exercises are similar to those of Hatha Yoga and are closely related to Shiatsu and acupressure (therapies that entail massage of various pressure points on the body).

BENEFITS OF DO-IN

Do-In stimulates the circulation, promotes lymphatic drainage and is an excellent way of starting the day. It also improves posture, flexibility, concentration and physical endurance. By maintaining a balanced energy flow, Do-In is traditionally believed to promote the harmonious health or recovery of various organs, glands and body systems. It is thought that the combination of massage and regular relaxation and breathing exercises can help prevent health problems such as arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and high blood pressure, as well as stress-related problems such as insomnia, depression and anxiety, and migraine.

GETTING STARTED

A session of Do-In exercises can be practised at any time, except immediately after eating, and can easily be incorporated into a daily-routine. The only practical requirement is wearing comfortable clothes that do not restrict movement. Although Do-In is a risk-free self-therapy that can be practised at home by people of all ages, it can be helpful to receive instruction from a qualified teacher, at least initially.

The following exercises are designed to enhance the flow of Ki through the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs via their related meridians, specific channels through which Ki is thought to flow. While you practise the routines, try to visualize clear energy flowing through your body.

Heart – Small Intestine meridian

Sit on the floor holding the soles of your feet together, close to the groin, with your back straight. Take a deep breath in from the abdomen and gently bend forwards from the hips, keeping your back straight. Try to maintain the body’s natural alignment and avoid over-extending. Breathe out as you bring your forehead down towards your feet. Hold for another deep breath in and out and slowly sit up as you inhale again. Repeat two or three times.

Liver – Gall Bladder meridian

Sit on the floor with a straight back and your legs as far apart as is comfortable. Breathe in and out from the abdomen and, on the out-breath, bend over from the hips and stretch out towards your left foot. Hold for two deep breaths and come up. Repeat on the other side and do the whole exercise again two or three times.

Kidney – Bladder meridian

Sit on the floor with both legs extended directly in front of you, toes pointing upwards. Slowly bend the upper body forwards and take hold of your toes with your fingers, attempting to allow your head to touch your knees. If you cannot reach the toes, hold the ankles. Hold and breathe slowly twice. Repeat the whole exercise two or three times.

Lung-Large Intestine meridian

Stand up straight, feet shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands behind your back. Breathe in from the abdomen and then breathe out as you bend forwards so your hands come above the back of your head. Hold the position while you breathe deeply in and out again and come up. Repeat, interlocking your fingers the other way. Do the whole exercise again two or three times.