Japanese yoga

Japanese yoga

Release energy blockages and flow with nature

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How can Japanese yoga nourish you? 

Japanese yoga is a distinct style of yoga that is entrenched in the flow of nature[1]. Classes change with the seasons to match both the internal and external needs of body and environment. Alternate names for this style of yoga are Ryoho Yoga[2], Ki yoga, Shinshin-Toitsu-Do, Oki-do[3] or seasonal yoga[4]

Japanese yoga is an active and dynamic practice that incorporates traditional yoga postures, or ‘asanas,’ with elements of martial arts, zen shiatsu, Traditional Eastern Medicine and modern exercise science. Also included in this practice are breathwork techniques, meditation and dietary adjustment.

Deeply-rooted in the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Japanese yoga works on the energy lines in the body, known as ‘meridians,’ which is similar to an acupuncture or shiatsu treatment[5]. This is to support the flow of energy through the body. Emphasis is placed on developing ‘ki’ (also known as ‘Qi’), which is life energy. 

When ki is stuck, as a result of injury, stress or poor lifestyle habits[6], it may cause energy blockages, resulting in disease or illness. By working on the meridians and focusing specifically on the needs of the individuals in the class, Japanese yoga cultivates ki to achieve balance, health and vitality. 

Shinshin-Toitsu-Do[7], “The Way of Mind and Body Unification,” is a specific form of Japanese yoga and meditation founded in the early 1900s by Nakamura Tempu Sensei, and is widely practiced in Japan. The International Japanese Yoga Association[8] is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the study of this particular style of Japanese yoga.

Japanese yoga is taught worldwide by many teachers instructed and influenced by Masahiro Oki  who founded the Oki-do style of yoga[9]. This traditional style is upheld by the Okido Dojo in the Netherlands[10].

Yoga Australia[11] is also a peak body for yoga in Australia, providing membership, resources and support for yoga teachers across the country, including those trained in styles of Japanese yoga. 

Benefits of Japanese yoga

While there is a need for more research studies focused specifically on Japanese yoga, there is evidence to support the overarching health benefits[12] of yoga in its entirety. Considering Japanese yoga integrates physical yoga postures, breathwork and meditation, this style of yoga may be a way of achieving an overall state of mental, physical, social and spiritual health and well-being.

Literature also provides evidence that yoga may promote positive outcomes for mental health. In a systematic review it was reported that mind-body exercises, such as yoga, were linked to significant reductions in perceived stress[13]. Moreover, studies have shown that yoga may alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety[14]

There is an increasing body of research to suggest that yoga may provide many benefits for the physical body, such as reduced pain[15], increased flexibility and balance[16] and improvements in overall body composition[17]

Japanese yoga may assist in relieving symptoms related to: 

Anxiety
Back pain
Balance, stability and coordination
Blood pressure
Depression
Energy and vitality
Flexibility, endurance and strength
Insomnia and sleep disorders
Liver issues
Mental health
Muscle spasm, tightness and cramps
Nervous system and neurological conditions
Relaxation
Respiratory and breathing issues
Sadness
Stress and tension
Weight control and obesity
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What to expect from a Japanese yoga session

Your Japanese yoga instructor will vary the session depending on the season and the time of day. This is said to harmonise both your physical and emotional health[18]

Although classes will vary, you may expect a sequence of movements that incorporate traditional yoga postures, elements of modern exercise and martial arts techniques intended to activate certain meridians and stimulate the energy flow through the body. You may also expect diaphragmatic breathing exercises, dietary and lifestyle suggestions to be included into the session.  

The majority of the work will be done on the mat in a supine position, with the spine a major focus of the class. More familiar poses such as sun salutations, downward dog or tree poses are less common in this practice. 

Japanese yoga is a creative practice that is suitable for all ages and abilities. 

As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing Japanese yoga. If you suffer from any underlying health conditions it is important to discuss this with your Japanese yoga instructor who will be able to tailor the session according to your needs. 

References

  1. Japanese | findyoga.com.au
  2. Treating the Cause (not just the symptoms) | Ryoho Wellness
  3. Japanese/Ki Yoga | Pinnacle Spine Sports
  4. Seasonal Yoga Treats | Seasonal Notes
  5. Find Your Space | theyogaspace.com.au
  6. Is Your Chi Blocked? | yogapedia
  7. Japanese Yoga & Meditation | senninfoundation.com
  8. International Japanese Yoga Association | japanese-yoga.com
  9. What is OKI-DO YOGA? | Family Yoga
  10. Home | Okido Yoga
  11. About Us | Yoga Australia
  12. Yoga and Health | Indian Journal of Community Medicine
  13. Effects of Mind–Body Exercises (Tai Chi/Yoga) on Heart Rate Variability Parameters and Perceived Stress | Journal of Clinical Medicine
  14. Can yoga reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression? | The Journal of Family Practice
  15. Yoga for People With Chronic Pain in a Community-Based Setting: A Feasibility and Pilot RCT | Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine
  16. Impact of 10-weeks of yoga practice on flexibility and balance of college athletes | International Journal of Yoga
  17. Effects of Yoga Training on Body Composition and Oxidant-Antioxidant Status among Healthy Male | International Journal of Yoga
  18. The yoga lowdown | bodyandsoul.com.au

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