Traditional Tibetan Medicine and Yuthok Nyingthig
Expanding presence in Portland and Seattle

Written by: Pamela Givens and DeAnn Glenn

Dr. Nida Chenagtsang teaches dream yoga, in March, 2014

Dr. Nida Chenagtsang teaches dream yoga, in March, 2014.
Photos: Courtesy of Dr. Nida Chenagtsang and Sorig Institute

A well-known Tibetan teacher of traditional Tibet medicine, which is deeply linked to Buddhist philosophy and practice, is expanding his activities in the Northwest.

Dr. Nida Chenagtsang, founder of the International Academy for Traditional Tibetan Medicine, has added Seattle and Portland to his extensive international teaching schedule. He led Northwest region classes in traditional Tibetan medicine, and offered teachings and empowerments, during his summer 2015 visit to the West Coast of the United States.

Dr Nida with Traditional Tibetan Medicine Northwest area sangha in Portland, April 2014

Dr Nida with Traditional Tibetan Medicine Northwest area sangha in Portland, April 2014.

Dr. Nida is scheduled to come to the Northwest in June and July of 2015, although the courses he will offer have not yet been finalized. He teaches whatever best supports the spiritual and educational needs of the students.

Although in true nomad fashion there is no physical center for Dr. Nida’s work in the United States, he encourages students to practice together and share knowledge.

He hopes to see the growing body of Northwest students begin to do retreats as a group. He also is asking students to set up regular meetings to discuss methods, to support their practice through mantra chanting and study, and to share knowledge in other ways.

Nearly 40 committed students regularly attend courses with Dr. Nida in California and the Northwest. Several instructors are authorized by Dr. Nida to deliver parts of the Tibetan medicine program.

Dr. Nida doing pulse diagnosis on patient

Dr. Nida doing pulse diagnosis on patient.

There are also tentative plans to eventually apply for Washington and Oregon certification for his particular course sequence, which he calls Traditional Tibetan Medicine, or TTM.

Dr. Nida always personally delivers courses in Yuthok Nyingthig, a tantra that combines vajrayana Buddhist practice and Tibetan medicine.

In 2014 Dr. Nida led a series of courses over three weeks on the West Coast, beginning in the San Francisco Bay Area and finishing up in Seattle and Portland. Students from all over the United States traveled to the Bay Area and to the Northwest to participate in the various classes offered. Some of the classes were also offered online, and included many international participants.

Yuthok Nyingthig image

Yuthok Nyingthig image.

Dr. Nida explains the connection between Buddhism and Tibetan medicine, and his specific program, as follows:

According to Traditional Tibetan Medicine, spiritual practice should be a part of healing; it has a great value in healing and balancing mind and energy. This is an important philosophical and psychological point of view. Each of the ancient oriental medical traditions has their background rooted in a different philosophy: Traditional Chinese Medicine is linked with Taoism, Ayurveda is connected with Hinduism, and traditional Tibetan Medicine’s spiritual path is Buddhism.”

The Sorig Institute was founded to support the students of Traditional Tibetan Medicine in the United States, and hosts Dr. Nida when he’s in the U.S. during teaching tours. The upcoming schedule will be available at the Sorig website.

The institute also is exploring ways to make Dr. Nida’s teachings more accessible through recorded online study and examination, and to develop a stronger sangha.

Dr. Nida with Traditional Tibetan Medicine Bay area sangha, March, 2014

Dr. Nida with Traditional Tibetan Medicine Bay area sangha, March, 2014.

Here are the classes Dr. Nida offered in 2014. First, in the Yuthok Nyingthig spiritual tradition:

  • (Introduction to) the Yuthok Nyingthig spiritual tradition
    Teachings on the lineage and collection of spiritual practices associated with Tibetan Medicine. The Yuthok Nyingthig practice is a complete dharma cycle based on the Yuthok Nyingthig root text. This cycle is similar to other Nyingthig practices; it includes ngondro (preliminary practice), guru yoga, the six yogas, and additional familiar Buddhist practices.
  • Yuthok Nyingthig Tummo
    Tummo is a practice that purifies negative energies and bad karma, and enhances innate bliss and wisdom.
  • Yuthok Nyingthig Karmamudra
    Karmamudra is known as the path of bliss, or the union practice. It helps with understanding the nature of mind, utilizing the energy and channels to attain different levels of bliss to integrate with meditation.
  • Yuthok Nyingthig Dream Yoga
    The complete name of dream yoga is “Dream Yoga of Self-Purified Illusion.” It is a practice to free our minds of blockages and stagnant emotions.

In the Traditional Tibetan Medicine Program:

  • (Introduction to) Tibetan Medicine & Mental Health Evening Talk
    A discussion of how topics of mental health and well-being are an integral part of Tibetan Medical practice.
  • Traditional Tibetan Medicine 4.2
    The four levels of training follow the traditional order studied by doctors for centuries, based on the Four Medical Tantras, the basic scripture of Tibetan Medicine. TTM 4.2 is traumatology. The class focuses on common injuries, restorative and practical sports medicine.

In Tibetan medicine, traumatology is a huge study. In ancient times, and in Tibetan medicine hospitals today in Asia, it is used to treat all types of injuries from simple falls to battlefield medicine. When the conquering Mongolians translated the Four Tantras into the Mongolian language, they used these principles to treat their battle wounds.

  • Traditional Tibetan Medicine point study
    A study of the points used in Tibetan medicine external therapies, including massage, acupressure and cupping, from the four medical tantras.
  • Introduction to Tibetan Medicine Evening Talk
    An introduction to the medical practices, philosophy, cosmology, system of subtle anatomy, and associated spiritual practices of Tibetan medicine.

Additional courses not required for the TTM program:

  • Mantra Healing Level 2
    This is the second-level class in the mantra healing series. According to this understanding, mantra is the pure essential energy of sound, which in its most essential and pure manifestation has infinite potentiality. Therefore, reciting a mantra is a way of connecting with and manipulating very specific subtle energies. Tibetan mantra healing utilizes this technique for healing effect.
  • Dream Studies
    Explorations of the analysis, medical diagnosis, and spiritual practice of dreams from the perspective of Tibetan medicine. Traditionally, dream studies include practices to purify and strengthen the chakras and channels, practices for lucid dreaming, and dream analysis.
  • Sa Che Geomancy (Tibetan Feng Shui)
    These are teachings on the energies of the elements and nature, including how to harmonize our living spaces and environment.
  • Annual Tibet Study Trip
    Nida leads an annual trip to Tibet to offer medical services in the Amdo region, and to provide students with the opportunity to hone their skills in his Traditional Tibetan Medicine program.
Yuthok thangka with Medicine Buddha

Yuthok thangka with Medicine Buddha.

This year Dr. Nida offered teachings from the Yuthok Nyingthig outer and inner guru yoga, as well as from teachings and tours of the main gompas, or temples of the village.

Afterward, the group went to Malho, Dr. Nida’s home town, and participated in the hands-on experience of working in the local hospital.

Dr. Nida received the transmission of the Yuthok Nyingthig from Tibetan masters Kanpo Toru Tsenam and Konpo Tsultrim Gyaltsen. He is committed to the transmission of this great spiritual practice.

He was born in Amdo, Tibet, and graduated from the Lhasa Tibetan Medical University with a master’s degree. During his degree program he conducted research on traditional Tibetan massage called Ku Nye, and helped rediscover and revive ancient external therapies. He has taught and conducted research since 1999.

Dr. Nida is also co-founder of the Ngak Mang Institute, which works for the preservation of Tibetan Ngakpa culture, and is medical director of the International Academy for Traditional Tibetan Medicine.

He has published several books and articles on Traditional Tibetan Medicine and travels extensively. His books are available from the Sorig Institute website.

About the Author: Pamela Givens and DeAnn Glenn
Pamela Givens has studied with Dr Nida since 2011. She focuses mainly on the Yuthok Nyingthig and the Healing Mantras courses. She practices in the Nyingma tradition, having studied with students of Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche. Givens is a certified instructor of Kum Nye Tibetan Yoga (as brought to the West by Tarthang Tulku) offering private and group classes in the Seattle area.

DeAnn Glenn is executive director of the Sorig Institute, USA. She practices Buddhism in the Sakya tradition and has studied with Dr. Nida since 2012. After living and practicing in Australia for many years, DeAnn relocated to the Seattle area to be near her family. She is currently building a retreat center called Clear Light Valley in the Arlington area.