Hailed as the hidden gem of the neighborhood, Four Dragons Institute in the Heights offers a variety of services to guide each person who walks through their doors to a philosophical path of life that works for them.
The institute was founded on four philosophical ideas, thus the name Four Dragons. The first is Daoism, which is an eastern philosophy from China. The next is yoga, which is also eastern but stems from Indian tradition. The last two are Tai Chi, martial arts, and Qi Gong, a medical, energetic practice that aligns mind, body, and spirit.
Four Dragons has been in the Heights for around five years, but it’s not a typical studio at a visible storefront. It’s in the medical building on 20th street, on the sixth floor. When the concept of the Institute was first talked about, a storefront was quickly nixed by founder and owner Lao, a Daoist Abbot, and Taurins.
“The views bring another worldliness to Houston. It allows you to step away from the hustle and bustle of your life, so you can put yourself in a different place,” said Taurins.
The Institute offers yoga classes seven days a week, internal martial arts, the study of Daoism, acupuncture, body work, message, and colonics.
When Taurins was working on the yoga path, she intended to create a place for people to feel comfortable exploring the practice, and in turn exploring who they wanted to be. When doing yoga for the first time it can feel awkward, especially when trying it out in front of other people. But the intention is to face that awkwardness and after realizing it wasn’t so bad.
“I wanted to make sure it was a safe place for people to explore what it is they’re interested in,” said Taurins.
Facing uncomfortable situations head on and being able to find within yourself the reason and become comfortable with who are or want to be. Taurins, who also teaches this to her teen class, finds that it’s more difficult with adults because adults fight their feelings, then hid them. Once you begin to develop your path, it reaches beyond the yoga mat.
“You start looking at your life, then you have an awareness, and now with the awareness you can make choices about different things, like [eating habits],” said Taurins.
The instructors who are committed to teaching yoga, practice it as well—on and off the mat. Taurins explained that the best way for people to develop a habit of their own is to watch other people setting an example, rather than just by lecture.
“You can make any choice you want, you’re free to do that. But you’re not free to live consequence free, just know that, too. But you’ve been asking permission your whole life, and never have given yourself authority [to decide],” said Taurins.
For people interested in yoga, Taurins would advise you to ask yourself what kind of practice you need for that day, but to be honest about it. If you approach the mat needing a softer practice is it because you’re being lazy, or is it because you have a long day ahead of you?
Allow for the physical aspects of yoga to intersect with where you are mentally that day. Then you create that space within you of honesty and compassion and see how long you can keep that space when you get off the mat.
“The yoga practice doesn’t start when you get onto the mat, it starts when you’re leaving,” said Taurins, “to me it’s how long can you hold that space, that’s the yoga; that’s the union we talk about in yoga.”
Taurins brings the philosophy of yoga and Daoism together for practical use. You become responsible for your world with the understanding that no one else can make you happy or eat a sandwich to make your stomach full.
“Observe nature and your own nature,” said Lao. Originally from San Francisco, Lao has lived in more than fifty countries studying Daoism.
This philosophy is rooted in seeing the world as is, not as other people make it. Lao gave the example of a shadow. He asked if the shadow was there, or was his hand simply preventing the light from touching the wall. By observing nature, you see it for what it is, like how the sun doesn’t rise. Then when you apply that mindset to your own life, it frees you from a box you think you’ve been set in, but really, you’re free to do anything.
Learn more about Four Dragons Institute at fourdragonsinstitute.com or stopping by at 427 W. 20th St. Suite 602.