Japanese yoga, also known as shin-shin-toitsu-do, is a yoga program that emphasizes self-healing techniques and positive thinking via autosuggestion in addition to the standard meditation, breathing and stretching exercises. Shin-shin-toitsu-do, which means "the way of mind and body unification," uses low impact stretching and meditation exercises to attain this mind/body integration.
Japanese yoga was founded by Dr. Nakamura Tempu in the early 1900s. Nakamura combined what he learned while living in India, where he studied the art of yoga of meditation, with the knowledge he gained studying medicine at Columbia University. Shin-shin-toitsu-do was the result, a mixture of Indian meditation, medicine, psychology, Japanese healing arts and martial arts.
The Four Basic Principles
The Four Principles to Unify Body and Mind are the foundation of shin-shin-toitsu-do. The principles are (a) to use the mind in a positive way; (b) use the mind with full concentration; (c) use the body naturally; and (d) train the body gradually, systematically and continuously. To use the mind in a positive way means to first examine yourself, then analyze your role in your environment and your relationship with others. Once you have started down this path of self-discovery, you can then live fully in the present and stop worrying about the past and future. To use the mind with full concentration is to set and order your priorities. Starting with matters you are familiar with, you then focus your concentration on other matters in your life in a descending order of importance until you have reached the stage where you can focus all your meditative skills on matters that are of no importance whatsoever to you. To use the body naturally means to perform simple, graceful exercises that require no extra equipment, attempting to improve and perfect your physical and psychological well-being. To train the body gradually, systematically and continuously is to avoid rushing too quickly, to be patient with the above processes as they slowly take a stronger hold in your everyday life.
The central concept behind all Japanese yoga exercises is dynamic meditation. This form of meditation incorporates many elements into a larger whole, from stressing proper posture and deep breathing, to focusing your meditation on understanding the workings of your own mind. On a mental or psychological level, dynamic meditation calls for you to practice extreme self-awareness, first observing the workings of your own mental processes, then concentrating on how to use this knowledge to improve your life. Autosuggestion is a large part of this process, as dynamic meditation uses visualization techniques to strengthen your imagination and clarity. On a physical level, this form of meditation emphasizes proper posture for a dynamic balance of mind and body, then uses calming methods to relax your muscles before beginning simple stretches and light flexibility exercises.
Self Healing Exercises
The physical exercises in Japanese yoga revolve around the idea of hitori ryoho, or "self healing." In this the student performs simple isolation movements of specific parts of the body, in an attempt to increase circulation, relax and muscles and enhance flexibility. For example, one self healing exercise is the arm rotation exercise, in which you lift your arm above your head without lifting your shoulder, then let it fall downward, then back up in an oval-shaped rotation. You repeat this motion until your shoulders are loose and your blood is pumping, then repeat with the other arm. This exercise relieves tension in the shoulders and stiffness in the arms and upper back.