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Conscious Action and Relaxation in Asana Practice II – Tomoko Mori

The teacher trainees and others who were interested in this theme gathered at an Okido Yoga residential seminar in the weekend of 21 - 23 February 2014, in Laren Dojo, Holland. After arrival on Friday evening, all participants enjoyed chamomile compress.

From Saturday morning till Sunday lunchtime, I gave a total of 11 hour lessons in 3 blocks. This was the second intensive seminar on the same theme following February 2013, with a different approach.

In Okido Yoga, Asana is a practice of the state of dhyana in one action whether it is static or dynamic. Body, Mind and Breathing are to be united in one action.

In order for the participants to experience this, I neither chose advanced asanas due to their individually different conditions nor asked them to do any poses so many times. Instead, in their first trial of one asana I explained the points which must be covered in their awareness, and then I said, 'Now please do for the other side (or once more) under your own instruction'.

Engaging one's mind thus responsibly is essential for this three-hold principle: coordinating Body, Mind and Breathing. When I noticed any important points were not applied well, I showed again with somebody being a model. So, they had to observe more properly, which is another important mental attitude for this process.

With slow and deep approach, 3 hours of each block pass fast. When lying down for Savasana, they immediately respond: no lips are closed tightly, some are gently snoring, nobody moves, silent time passes by, and then the whole room changes its atmosphere. I silently stand or sit nearby, witnessing all of this ...

Apart from my lessons, Mizue led the morning chanting with the Heart Sutra and explained the meaning of 'void' from the point of view of Okido Yoga. The teacher trainees also reviewed Do-in exercises with Hatsuko. The other staff Katrien and Vera supported all to go smoothly in almost silent communication.

trikonasana base

Participant's Report – Cathy Robbers

Every time I arrive at the dojo I realize what a special place it is and how easy it is to leave all thoughts behind when entering the premises.

I was pleasantly surprised how many people joined the seminar. It was also nice to see that some people from the past attended, which made the start of this weekend even more joyful. It was great to start with chamomile compress on the liver area.

Chanting was a nice way to start the first day of the seminar weekend. The sounds we produce give vibrations in my chest and relax my mind.

Tomoko did great preparation. The handouts were clear and it was nice that during the exercises we could fully focus on our own feelings and experiences. Notes could be taken during the short breaks.

I also loved the long warming-up exercises with the breathing part. They really emptied my mind and I was fully ready and concentrated on asanas. The experience of lying on your back with the legs up against the wall was special. I never knew that it would bring such a feeling of rest. After all this stretching it was good to do some kyoka-ho. The first morning I experienced was quite heavy. It was a 3-hour-long block and the exercises went deep. I was pretty tired when lunch started.

After a good rest during lunch break I was ready and curious what the afternoon would bring. Starting with dances from different cultures was so joyful to do. The laughter was good.

The way we worked on posture to get into the extended triangle pose was very clear and worked out great for me. Experiencing the postures and looking for your own boundaries or limits felt amazing. For me the ‘ do-be-do’ principle became even more clear in this way and I was proud of my own performance. I had never done the base of the trikonasana so “easily” and more importantly without pain.

I was only struggling with the sphinx. That posture needs more investigation for me to find a way to execute it more easily and without pain in arms or shoulders.

After savasana and meditation, all my senses were on edge but I was at the same time very relaxed. Head was relaxed and clear. I felt very strong.

I joined the do-in class during the evening. It appeared that Hatsuko and Anneke explained some exercises different and therefore confusion arose. I think it is wise to make a new version of all exercises and spread that one among the students.


As always you make my day by starting with a long walk. Seeing the sun rise, hearing the nature waking up by singing birds and seeing spring come is every time a special gift.

For the first time during a longer walk I didn’t have stiff shoulders or arms. My hara part was still so powerful and that felt superior.

During her lessons, Tomoko kept mentioning and showing the line ‘heels – sitting bones – shoulder blades – skull’, which worked out very well for me. I learn best when I repeat and see things often. Therefore I was also glad we started the next day with the long warming-up and some exercises from the former day.

I was pleasantly surprised how easily I could get into the warrior pose and how nice it felt with the instructions given. The full trikonasana also went well.

This weekend was a great follow up of Tomoko’s seminar of last year. I again learned a lot and this time the line from heel to skull was extra help in addition to the ‘do-be-do’ principle. It gives food for thought, and also encouragement to explore more at home.

Tomoko had advised us in advance to read some parts of the book ‘Meditation Yoga’ in order to prepare well for the seminar. It was very helpful.

This weekend was intensification in my Okido study and the seminar made me really happy.

Participant's Report – Katrien Dermaux

This was my third weekend seminar with Tomoko and I was looking forward to it. In general, it felt like a deepening of experiences that I lived during the weekend last year.

The principles of do - be -do, not going to the "end point" in one go, but with intermediate stops at which you reconsider: "do I go further?" or "do I reset?" went deeper into my mind and body. These stops were not a simple break or rest in the exercise, but really points for evaluation of mind and body. I felt once more that the most difficult part is not to "do", but to "be" and really feel what my body wants, more than thinking what my mind wants to achieve. And this without having bad feelings of giving up when I push the reset button.

I found it amazing on the first day, how quickly the day passed. In the late afternoon I first felt as if I was still completely fresh, not having done a lot... until the moment where I was really calm and reflective enough to realize how relaxed I was. And in my whole body, every muscle, every nerve seemed to be completely relaxed. My breathing was calm and deep. My breathing tells me how my posture and my mind are and this time it told me that I was very relaxed and down to earth.

The standing positions are some of my favourite asanas, but I realized that I hadn't really got them.  Before this weekend seminar, I had never put enough weight or pressure on my foot at the back, which had made me always put strain on the foot and knee in front.

Following how Tomoko suggested, I could feel my breathing was better, I was more stable and could stay much longer in the asana without "struggling". My upper body felt lighter.

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