MIND BODY BREATH
Did you know that one of the ancient names of SunDo was “Way of Receiving Bark,” or “Way of Receiving Sun Energy” (BarkDolBup). Perhaps it isn’t a surprise that a discipline called ‘SunDo’ would have a history so closely tied to the powerful star that makes everything around us possible!
The earliest roots of SunDo date back to the end of the last ice in the late Paleolithic Period when a traveling people found themselves instinctively drawn toward the East, the direction the sun rises from each morning.
Amidst very harsh conditions, the sun offered nurturing warmth and energy. These nomads created a practice to derive the most benefit from the sun, by humbly facing it early each morning and shifting positions to expose each part of their bodies to its life-giving energy. This ancient form of posturing before the sun became what we now know as the 33 postures sets in SunDo Taoist yoga practice.
The ancestors thought of the “heavens” (the sky, sun, moon, and stars) as a sacred force present and alive in all living things. Their desire to get closer to the heavens eventually drew many SunDo practitioners to the mountains and inspired the distinctive breath focus of the discipline.
Taoists believed air was the connecting force between people and the heavens and that by honing one’s breathing, it was possible to unlock hidden potential and achieve greater oneness with the divine. And hence, these deep breathing benefits combined with the restorative power of sun energy made for a legendary practice.
SunDo still incorporates elements of its early sun revence into its modern practice. On a symbolic level, teachers today pay tribute to the masters of the art and the sun’s important role in the practice by placing their photos (normally of Taoist hermit masters like Grandmaster Chung-San and Master Kim) on the Eastern walls of their practice spaces.
Modern SunDo studios and classes continue to bring the restorative benefits of sunlight into each student’s morning practice regimen. Students complete their warm-ups facing the rising sun to the East. Then, to begin their postures, students face the West as the sun rises higher in the sky. By turning their backs to the sun, practitioners are able to absorb sunlight as yang energy onto their back sides, which are the yin sides of the body. During SunDo retreats, many morning class offerings also begin in the early hours between 4 and 6 am as sunlight gently grows stronger. This allows practitioners to receive the sun’s rising energy as the body’s energy is also rising upon waking after sleep.
Learn more or try SunDo, a powerful practice of postures, meditation and breathwork to bring alignment between you and the energy of Earth's greatest star!