The Japanese term Zen Taiso is usually translated as “Zen body exercises.” It typically refers to regular and scheduled exercises performed by the meditation practitioner before starting a Seated Meditation aka Buddhist Zazen Meditation session.
The idea is to train and “harden” the body to be able to assume a good posture and sit for long periods in mindful meditation without experiencing fatigue or pains. The types of exercises can include Yoga poses, stretches, mindfulness and breathing exercises, Hara abdominal exercises, or relaxation and movement exercises.
Zen Taiso can be a combination of different types of exercises (depending on a specific Zen lineage or Zen temple), but it can also consist of a well-defined bodywork modality such as Makko-Ho, Zen Yoga, Tai Chi, Zenways, or Okido Yoga.
The Zen Taiso practice can be carried out at home, a Zen retreat, or in a Zazen Meditation group, but you will also find it in Zen temples as part of the daily routine performed early in the morning and/or at the end of the day. Zen Taiso practice sessions usually span between thirty minutes and an hour.