Sotai ho is a system of movement therapy that was discovered after nearly 10 years of personal research from Keizo Hashimoto, M.D. (1897-1993)
Dr. Hashimoto was trained in western medicine and noticed soon after he opened his clinic (1933) that he was unable to help patients with orthopedic conditions. He noticed that the patients who did get better typically did so with the help of acupuncture or some form of manual medicine. This intrigued him and he set out to gather knowledge from the traditional healers.
After much experimenting with several traditional healing modalities Dr. Hashimoto came to the conclusion that when the human frame is properly aligned, patients healed much quicker. He then discovered that distortions in the structure could be corrected by moving the body in the path of least resistance or in the direction of greatest ease. He summarized that the disease process occurs in the following order:
- Distortion appears in the body such as a shift in the center of gravity. Over-strained muscles and stress usually create the imbalance.
- An abnormal sensation occurs in the body such as pain or stiffness.
- Functional disorders will appear such as impaired mobility.
- Illness sets in and the symptom can now be diagnosed.
Hashimoto looked at the cure in this order:
- Correct the structural imbalance through proper movement (Sotai ho).
- The abnormal sensation begins to disappear.
- Systems begin to function properly and mobility is regained.
- The structure stays aligned and the patient regains full health.
With this as his frame of reference Hashimoto systematically began applying Sotai ho in his clinic with very positive results. He also noted that moving the body in a way that causes one to feel good did in fact create the greatest benefit. He thought that when we move, our mind forces our body to move in a very restrictive, unnatural way. Even as we walk we are in an unnatural state as our center of gravity moves from one side to another. The key is to quiet the mind and listen to the body in order to experience freedom of movement.
Beyond the way the body moves, Hashimoto’s philosophy of health are as follows: breath, diet, movement, and thinking. These four practices make up the process of life and can lend to or take away from our experience based on our choices.
Breathing: the key is to find a way of breathing consciously and comfortably. Deep abdominal breathing ten to twenty times throughout the day will help balance the autonomic nervous system and will connect your mind and your body (yin and yang). Breathing is essential for survival and the deeper your breath, the greater your health will be.
Diet: Dr. Hashimoto recommended that a person find out what diet is best for the individual and in finding balance in the way one eats. Expressing gratitude for the energy and life that our food provides is of greatest importance. Consider eating while sitting in a relaxed environment. It is not so much what we eat, but how we eat and digest the food. Observe the 80% rule and quit eating when you are 80% full. Eating fresh vegetables, fish and natural foods will provide greater nutrition then processed refined food.
Movement: Checking in with your body is the first step in proper movement. If the direction you are moving in feels restrictive or painful then your body is telling you to move in a different direction. The entire structure is interconnected like a chain where one weak link can damage the entire system. When someone complains of hip pain and neck pain they may view them as two separate problems but in reality they are just manifestations of the same issue- structural distortion. Finding the movement that creates restriction and then moving in the direction opposite will invite the body to relax and heal.
Spirituality/Thoughts: Dr. Hashimoto has said, “Our thoughts are the steering wheel of our destiny.” Having gratitude for life and thinking positive thoughts naturally help move a person in a nonrestrictive way. This same principle of movement without force applies to the way we think. Just by changing the way one thinks he can change the way he moves and feels.
Principles of Sotai ho treatment
The first thing to remember is that we are working at moving the body in the direction that feels GOOD. This requires you to detach yourself to the idea of forcing movements to illicit change. Here are some principles to follow as you practice Sotai ho:
- Calm your mind and connect with your body while determining the direction of a movement that is most restrictive, you will then be moving in the direction away from this.
- Take a deep inhalation into the abdomen and slowly move in the direction of ease making sure that the movement feels satisfying as you are in it.
- Complete the movement at the end of your exhale and subtly squeeze without force and then relax the entire body as you deeply inhale while being still.
- After the inhalation checking in with your body will help determine if you need to repeat the movement or move on. One to three repetitions are sufficient. When you feel complete, move in a new direction.
Conclusion: Sotai ho can be applied to every facet of your life. Oftentimes the simplest concepts are the most challenging to master. Dr. Hashimoto’s teachings may appear unusually easy but they have a certain depth that keeps us connected body and soul