Some of the Yoga Plus teachers mentioned Oki Yoga in the studio one day. Their descriptions of this traditional Japanese style of yoga sounded intriguing to me. Oki–“Do”—“path, or way of searching for truth in life,” was developed by Master Masahiro Oki, who was influenced by many different disciplines and religions—eastern & western–including Hatha Yoga, Yin-Yang Chinese philosophy & Japanese Zen traditions.
I finally had an opportunity to attend a private class at the BMSI in Gotanda earlier this week. Yuji Oishi, who teaches regular classes at Oki Yoga in Tokyo, led us through a two-hour practice. We started with traditional Oki Yoga breathing movements that were synchronized with a series of spinal rotations and shoulder openers. The practice progressively moved from rhythmic and dynamic standing to seated asanas, addressing every part of the body from head to toe. We gradually worked our way into Eka Pada Rajakpotasana. Although I have very tight hips, I was able to get deeper into this pose than usual without props! In fact, props are not used and nor does the practice focus on alignment. Instead, the emphasis is placed the release of muscle tension through expansive, flowing transitions. In addition, periodic parts of the practice also included light self-massage to the feet, chest, shoulders and after savasana, the scalp and face. In some ways, I was reminded of Viniyoga, Yin and perhaps Tai Chi.
Yuji Oishi was an impressive teacher who’s body had a notable balance between strength and flexibility (evidenced in the photos above). He said that the overall philosophy of Oki Yoga is not only for body and mind, but, for the whole life– “Total Life Yoga.” Yuji also pointed out that Master Oki translated B.K.S. Iyengar’s renowned book, “Light on Yoga” into Japanese, which is now being used in our teacher training.
Overall I found the class experience grounding, meditative and calming. After the practice, I actually felt “re-aligned” and had a sense of physical spaciousness while walking around later that day.