COLORADO SERENITY - March 2005 (Sotai: Gentle Movement That Promotes Health)
Tracy Saraduke, RN, M.Ac. L.Ac.
3082 Evergreen Parkway, Suite 2
Evergreen, CO 80439
It sounds like one of those late night commercials, “In just 15 minutes a day you can feel and look better!” But it isn’t the latest exercise fad; it is a set of simple movements that I recommend to help patients keep their Qi (Chi) moving. These movements are called Sotai.
Recently, one of my patients experienced surprising results over a four-month period by adding 15 minutes of daily Sotai to her schedule.
“With parties, relatives and the rest of holiday indulgences, all that I managed to keep consistent was 15 minutes of Sotai and full meals,” she said. “My schedule simply did not allow the level of activity I wanted and was accustomed to, but I didn’t want to deny myself socializing and desserts. The results floored me: I lost a dress size.”
My patient didn’t achieve this unexpected result through a strenuous exercise program. It was by daily doing 15 minutes of Sotai at home. The movements she added to her daily regimen are slow and gentle, moving with the breath. They increase circulation by moving Chi through the meridians. Increased circulation means more oxygen and nutrients available to all of the cells, and easier removal of waste.
Dr. Keizo Hashimoto developed Sotai using the acupuncture principle of improving circulation in the meridians instead of building up the musculature. The Sotai movements are conducted within a person’s natural range of motion and are directed away from pain or discomfort. Sotai started as treatments (Sotai Ho), which evolved into self Sotai.
In the west, exercise is seen as a programmed mode of strenuous physical activity. By focusing on vigorous exercise we often ignore the healing power of good circulation.
During exercise, our minds tend to wander off while we repeat a set of movements. The faster we move, the harder it is to determine if a movement feels right. Slow, purposeful movement allows us to listen to our bodies. Relaxation and increased circulation can be felt when one does not rush or push too far.
Our modern lifestyles create tension that piles up in the body, unnoticed. Tension leads to poor posture and poor breathing which, in turn, leads to more tension and fatigue. Many physical problems stem from nothing more than excessive tension.
The good news is that we can prevent and even reverse most of these problems by allowing the body to relax. The human body is remarkably responsive, fully capable of regaining balance on its own, provided we give it time and room to change. All it takes is periodic breaks where we give our full attention to our body and breathe as we move. By listening to our body and moving slowly in a natural way, necessary changes and adjustments happen by themselves.
“Now I am fighting the urge to do more,” my successful patient tells me. “I’ve learned that more isn’t always better. The Sotai instructions were explicit: This isn’t stretching. It isn’t exercise. Don’t overdo it. I think I can limit the amount of Sotai to 20 minutes a day easier than I can limit the homemade desserts. Oh, and my original complaints of foot, leg and hip pain have not returned either.”
We have free practice groups at my office. Come join us as a group or for a free, individual Sotai Ho assessment.