Exercises and the three main centers
The body is divided into three main centers:
Ideally, energy should be divided equally among the three centers. Factors, such as activity, education, diet, culture, etc, prevents this from happening so. In shiatsu, more importance is attached to the abdominal center, known as the hara.
Many exercises are available to help hara. We recommend that you do the deep breathing exercises described under the yoga breathing exercises. Once this technique is mastered, use a visualization to improve the effectiveness. While inhaling, imagine that ki is being inhaled down into the hara. Inhale slowly via the nose and imagine the ki descending. (It may aid concentration if the eyes are closed.) The breath should be held for about four seconds and concentration should be centered on the ki. Then exhale gradually through the mouth and repeat the process for a few minutes. Thus, while breathing, not only is oxygen inhaled but also ki (or prana) is taken into the hara where it increases a person's vitality. Once the technique is mastered, it can be practiced virtually anywhere and will restore composure and calmness.
This is an exercise that helps you to control the movement of the ki. To begin the exercise, assume a position on the floor with your body supported on your hands and knees (a body width apart). You should be relaxed and comfortable with no tension. This position is the basis for other movements that are practiced on others. While the position is maintained, begin to move the body backwards and forwards so that you are conscious of the transfer of weight, either on to the hands or knees. The body should then be moved slowly in a circular way, again being aware of the shift of weight from the hands, to hands and knees, to knees, etc, returning to the original position. As the whole body is moved, the abdomen is its center of gravity. Practice maintaining a position for about five seconds, registering the increase in weight on the hands when you move forwards and the reduction when you rock backwards. Then return to the original position. It is important that the body weight is always used at right angles to the receiver as this will have the maximum effect on the flow of ki. The reason for holding a particular position is that this has the effect of making the person's ki move.
The centered movement can be practiced on a partner in exactly the same way, following the same rules. The right hand should be placed on the sacrum, which is between the hips, and the left hand midway between the shoulder blades. As before, you should rock forwards and hold the position for about five seconds and then repeat after rocking backwards on to the knees. This basic procedure can be repeated about twelve times, and if you are not sure whether too much or too little pressure is being used, check with your partner. You will eventually acquire the skill of knowing what amount is right for a particular person.
Make use of body weight and not muscular strength; without utilizing any effort. Be calm and relaxed at all times. The weight of the body should be at right angles in relation to the receiver's body. The person's whole body should be moved when altering weight on to the receiver, maintaining the hara as the center. Any weight or pressure held should be for a short time only and both hands should be used equally. Maintain a regular pattern of movement while giving shiatsu. Always keep in physical contact with the receiver by keeping a hand on him or her throughout the therapy.
There are a large number of different exercises and techniques available to the
practitioner. We will give one such exercise here.
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