Monthly Archives: October 2007

Natural Remedies 5: Yoga


      The fifth class at Natural Remedies was about yoga. (The first one:!1D0F2197A6F55843!2040.entry , the second one:!1D0F2197A6F55843!2071.entry , and the third one:!1D0F2197A6F55843!2081.entry , the fourth one:!1D0F2197A6F55843!2146.entry)

     Ah…yoga! I’ve tried it only once. That was just a year ago. It was called Hatha Yoga, and I did it outside. Doing exercise outside was so nice, but my body was too stiff to do yoga…So I gave up doing yoga at that time.

     Yoga was born in India about 5000 years ago. It’s a healing philosophy and means unite of mind, body, and spirit. People can practice focusing, train bodies, release stress and so on by using different postures called asanas in yoga.

     The students in the class of Natural Remedies learned about 4 different types of yoga: Bikram Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Hatha Yoga, and Ashtanga Yoga.

Bikram Yoga

     It’s known as hot yoga and is ideally practiced in a room heated to 40.5℃, or 105℉ with a humidity of 50%. Classes are guided by specific dialogue including 26 postures and two breathing exercise. You need to pay great attention to detail and precise focus on body alignment with the use of props. Nowadays it may be becoming the most popular in Japan.

    ★Iyengar Yoga

      It’s named by the founder’s name. You need focuses on the structural alignment of the physical body through the development of asanas. Unchanging sequence of postures designed as a rejuvenating exercise strengthens your entire body from head to toe.

      Hatha Yoga

     Hatha means sun and moon. It’s important for it to balance mind and body via physical exercises, controlled breathing and calming of the mind through relaxation and meditation. For most westerners, “Yoga” means Hatha Yoga, which is practiced for mental and physical health throughout the West.

          ★Ashtanga Yoga

     It means eight limbs originally and is practiced by eight things: moral codes, self purification, posture, breath control, sense control, concentration, meditation, and contemplation. It’s focused by co-ordination of breath and movement. It’s very physically active.

     In the end of the class, we tried a sequence of yoga for beginners by using a video featuring Rodney Yee. One sequence is only 8 minutes and even I was able to do it in spite of that my body is not supple. There’s a pose called namaste in the sequence, and as you know, namaste is a greeting word in India and Nepal. But my teacher told us the meanings of it.

I honor the spirit in you which is also in me.
I salute the god within you.
I recognize that we are all equal.

     What wonderful phrases! It’s difficult for me to practice yoga because of my body’s stiffness, but I’d like to have its philosophies. Interestingly, tai chi’s philosophies and exercise routines and posture and breathing are quite similar. But tai chi is not as tough as yoga. So I’m going to keep on practicing tai chi.

Natural Remedies 4: Meditation


     The fourth lesson (The first one:!1D0F2197A6F55843!2040.entry , the second one:!1D0F2197A6F55843!2071.entry , and the third one:!1D0F2197A6F55843!2081.entry ) at Natural Remedies in the university was about meditation.

     The textbook says, In our hectic lives of work, play and more work, it becomes increasingly harder to relax. The key to inner place and harmony, some say, is to learn how to focus. to mediate, sit comfortably, a quiet place is preferable, but not required. Closed your eyes and breathe deeply, allowing your heart and breathing to slow. Use a word or phrase that can be repeated to yourself: a mantra.

     Yeah, we are certainly busy making ends meet. I learned some ways of breathing and meditation in the class. I’d like to introduce them here. But I can’t do completely unfortunately because I don’t have enough material for it. So, if you find something wrong or/and more, let me know. Thanks!

★Sufi Mother’s Breath
  1. Exhale with a sigh to reset the diaphragm.
    2. Breathe in through your nose for a slow count of 7.
    3. Hold your breath for a moment.
    4. Breathe out through your nose for a count of 7.
    5. Hold your breath for a moment.
    6. Repeat several times.

  I breathe easily knowing that I am safe and secure.

  ○Clean the inner organs
    ○Nurture yourself

★Bhastrika Bellows Breath
    1. In a standing position, feet shoulder width apart.
    2. Arms held straight in front, bring your palms up to chest height
        pressing against each one, with your shoulders down, away from
        your ears.
    3. Practicing the Bellows Breath opens the chest presenting a sense
       of wellbeing and providing a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.
    4. Use this breath to also relieve tension in the spine.

I open myself completely to the fullness of life.

    ○Chest open
    ○Relieve tension

★Complete Breath
1. Relax; close your eyes.
    2. Exhale completely. Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose.
        Allow your stomach to expand like a balloon.
    3. Sip in the breath, filling the chest and lungs.
    4. Hold the breath, exhale slowly through the nose, squeezing
       out all the state air.
    5. If you wish, add the element of counting inhale for a count of 5,
        hold the breath for 15, and exhale for a count of 10.
    6. Repeat 5 times.
    I drink deeply from the well of life.

    ○Nervous system
    ○Relieve tension
    ○Increase energy levels

★Alternate Nostril Breath
    1. Sit comfortably placing the middle finger of your right hand on
        your forehead, your thumb resting on your right nostril.
    2. Your ring and pinky finger (if necessary) rests on your left nostril.
    3. Inhale and exhale. Close right nostril using thumb and inhale
       through left nostril for 3-5 seconds. Lift thumb and close left
       nostril with ring finger while now exhaling through right nostril
       for 3-5 seconds.
    4. Keeping fingers in same location, inhale through right nostril for 
       3-5 seconds. Lift ring finger and close right nostril with thumb 
       while now exhaling through left nostril 3-5 seconds.
    5. This completes one round of alternate nostril breath or Anulom
    6. Continue for 4 more rounds.

I am balanced calm and serene.

    ○Nervous system
    ○Increase energy levels
    ○Stilling on mind

    I couldn’t find how to breathe and even the name. But I found an
    interesting comment in a blog on it instead.

    My spirit is filled with power, love, and wisdom.

    ○Clear mind
    ○Supple body

Natural Remedies 3: What shoud we eat?


     In the third lesson of Natural Remedies (The first one:!1D0F2197A6F55843!2040.entry The second one:!1D0F2197A6F55843!2071.entry) , we studied about diet with the textbook and the DVD entitled BBC Documentary Natural Remedies.

     Diet has a direct effect on our health and many of our health problems are the result of a bad diet. We need the right type of food in order to be healthy.

     Eastern Diets are lightly cooked with lots of fresh ingredients and this is believed to be responsible for the low incidence of heart disease and cancers in the East. Mediterranean diets are thought to be healthier for the heart, but Western diets are thought to be responsible for many health problems.

     There are many diet products on the market to lower cholesterol, improve digestion, and reduce appetite and body fat levers. But some modern diets are expensive and my even be bad for you.

     Green leafy vegetables, fruits and vegetables and tomatoes all help to fight disease. Carrots are good for our immune systems. Beans and pulses lower cholesterol levels and whole grains, rich in vitamin E, also help the body keep in good shape. Good food in the right quantities can make us better. Food is the original natural remedy.

     And according to the textbook, the five top foods recommended by health experts for a healthy life are: carbohydrates, whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and fresh water.

     We should choose our diets properly. According to the passage above, Eastern diets seem to be good for our health. Fortunately I live in Japan, which is also one of Eastern countries, and I can enjoy such Eastern diets without special efforts.

     But we have one big problem. According to the class, we should eat as many locally produced foods as possible, but it’s difficult. You know, Japan’s self-sufficient rate of food is about 40% and it relies on import. So we can enjoy various foods from all over the world, but it’s difficult to have only locally produced food. 

     In the class, we learned about foods which make you cold, cool, warm or hot.

    And we also learned that five tastes have each effect.

     The thinking way is from Eastern medicine. We learned about yin and yang in the second lesson. We should choose food by our own body type and our condition every day.

Natural Remedies 2: Five Elements and Yin & Yang


     In the second lesson of Natural Remedies (The first lesson:!1D0F2197A6F55843!2040.entry), the participants learned about Chinese five element theory (Wu Xing) and Chinese unity of opposite Yin & Yang.

     The five elements are Water, Metal, Earth, Fire, and Tree. These elements act each other in the world of nature. And they control each other as well.

     1. Rain nourishes a tree.
     2. Burning wood generates fire.
     3. Ash is creative for earth,
     4. Metal is minded for the earth.
     5. Water condenses with metals.

     1. A pond holds water.
     2. Water extinguishes fire.
     3. Fire melts metals.
     4. An ax cuts wood.
     5. Trees take their roots into the earth.

     And in the Chinese thinking way, these elements are related into human organs and emotions too.

     According to the theory, if you tend to get angry easily, you might have had a fear for something too much before, and you might have a problem in your liver someday.

     We need keep balance for our health mentally and physically.
(Five Element Picture is from Wikipedia)




     That’s why we should know about balance. In Chinese thinking way, unity of opposite is very important. It’s called yin and yang. Yin is the dark element and yang the light.





     You can know about your body type either yin or yang.

     According to the list, I seem to be yang type, but I don’t think I have much stamina, and I get tired quite easily.

    That’s why I replied I thought I was yin type when my teacher asked me in the class. But all of the class laughed!!!!!

Natural Remedies 1: Eastern & Western Philosophies



     I’ve been in Chukyo University on Fridays since September to take an interesting class entitled Natural Remedies. It’s a kind of English class, but not ordinary conversation or grammar class. Students are supposed to study about a variety of ways of natural remedies as like herbal medicine, music therapy, aromatherapy, yoga and acupuncture and so on.

     There are 6 students in the class; 5 women and 1 man. The all of us are Japanese adult. And the teacher is a cute English woman. In the first lesson, we learned about the differences in approach and understanding between eastern and western models of thinking.

     If you have a headache and go to the hospital, the doctor would give you some painkillers and take an exam with MRI or something to check your brain. And if you have a knee pain and go to the hospital, the doctor would take X-ray of your knee and try to know the condition of your bone.

     But in eastern medicine the doctor probably will do different approaches to your body. If you have a headache, he won’t give you painkillers soon. He must check your whole body and try to know the cause of the pain instead. If you have a knee pain, he must check your whole body not only your knee. It’s because the way of the approach to the pain depends on each cause.

     After World War II, Japan has westernized rapidly and forgotten eastern medicine and thinking way. You see a lot of patients overflow from big hospitals. Many people believe that western drugs are great. Yes, it’s true that numberless people’s lives have been saved by western medicine. But in the meantime, many people are given up by the doctors. Where do those people go to instead of the hospital? They return to eastern medicine. And recently eastern medicine has discovered its merits and has been studied all over the world. We need and should use merits of the both of western and eastern medicine.

     In the class, we learned about some tips of diet as well.


1. Eat meals regularly.
2. Eat to satisfy not full.
3. Vary the types of food at each meal and from day to day.
4. Chew your food well.
5. Refrain from eating too much of the same food.
6. Do not reheat food more than once.
7. Eat natural and organically grown food.
8. Eat food that is as fresh as possible.
9. Avoid eating a meal before bed.

     As for me, my diet is far from those suggestions. I always regret after eating too much. I hardly chew food. I often use deli foods and can’t live without the microwave oven. I always buy bargains which are not fresh. My dinner is always around 10 at night! Hmmm…I’m wondering if I may be able to improve my diet and life style through the class and become healthier in the end of the course…

Tai Chi Camp


      Last weekend I joined in a tai chi camp in Mt. Sangane with a friend of mine Michi-pon. The hotel in which the camp was held is located on the top of the mountain and you see the sea and some islands on it there.

       My friend and I arrived at the hotel around noon and had lunch there since the time we were supposed to register was at one o’clock in the afternoon. We were notified about our room at the counter after the register, and went to the room when other two people had already been there.

     They are Kikuko and Yoshiko. According to them, they live near the hotel and the both of them have quite upper level certificates: pre-master. They were really nice and kind. I asked Kikuko to buy the same T-shirt she was wearing and sent it to me since I really liked hers. On her T-shirt giant pandas were doing tai chi! That was so cute!

     After introducing each other, we went to the ground. We were supposed to practice tai chi at two o’clock. Many participants had already been there. We exercised for two hours.

     Amazingly Yoshiko started practicing tai chi, remembering what we had learned outside as soon as we got to our room! I thought that I had to
be more serious…

     Around six o’clock we had a feast. The dinner was quite gorgeous and delicious, but fish, fish, fish, fish, fish, fish… I thought I didn’t want to see fish for a while…

     At the dinner, we knew that the oldest applicant for the test of master certificate next day was 84 years old! Wow! Although I saw him, he looked younger than his real age.

     I met Kikuko’s husband at the dinner. He has also pre-master certificate. He is a Buddhist priest and has a tai chi lass at his temple. He was nice and kind too.

     After the dinner, the participants didn’t have free time. We watched DVD on tai chi and studied some things together. Around nine we were released at last…

     Next morning, I got up at five o’clock! We had to go to the ground by 6:30 in the morning for practicing. You know, I usually sleep that time…So it was quite tough for me to exist outside before 6:30.

     But it was very nice to exercise outside in the morning. I felt good after doing tai chi. I was hungry! We went to the dinning right away.

      Look at this gorgeous breakfast! I always have just a toast or a bun and coffee for breakfast.

     After breakfast, we went to the ground and did tai chi together. Then the exam for master certificate was held. There were 40 applicants for it. They looked very nervous before doing, but they made big smiles when they got applause later.

     And then teachers performed. We did tai chi together and finally the camp was finish. At the practice, Kikuko’s husband said to my friend and me, "The both of you looked very happy while doing tai chi. I remembered when I started tai chi!"

     After having lunch together, we said good-bye and promised to see each other again next year. I met many people and learned many things. The tai chi camp was a wonderful experience for me.

Open House at A.H.I


      Do you know A.H.I? It means Asia Health Institute and many students come there from different countries in Asia and study on medical treatment and technology and so on every year. They open their facility once a year in the fall and it was on 8th this year and I visited there with some of my friends.

     There were many food stands in the site and I was able to enjoy many kinds of ethnic foods for lunch there, Vietnamese noodle, Thai noodle, Korean thin pancake, Indian curry, etc. 


     They had not only food stands but also many events like a magic show, some dance shows, songs, workshops about street children, for example, gender issue, Asian medical problems, and a kind of activity for enlightenment by Amnesty International. 

     They even had a kind of market which sold a variety of Asian goods, for example, bags, clothes and so on.

     My friends and I tried to wear saris. How do we look? Beautiful?

     I ran into some friends there as well. I had a wonderful time together with my friends!