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Seitai Shiatsu: The Secret To A Self-Healing Body

The first time I experienced seitai (Japanese osteopathy) was when I was 8 years old. It was in a dark dojo in Tokyo where the sessions took place openly as other patients waiting their turn silently looked on. Adult men and women lay on a mat one by one as they surrendered to the sensei while their bodies made loud cracks and yelps that echoed throughout the large space. I never knew that human bodies could become healed through such body adjustments.  I have had many seitai treatments since, but these memories flashed by me when I was told to do a report on seitai. Luckily, all worries vanished once I met Mr. Suzuki, the seitai sensei, or master at the Doin Seitai Shiatsu Center.

Mr. Suzuki explains to me using a graph indicating
the meaning of pressure points and how it pertains to my case.

The word “seitai” literally means “putting the body in order.” It originated from Budo medicine, and existed since the 12th century in Japan when Ninjas and Samurais were still roaming about.  The practice not only treats areas that have already manifested into symptoms, it can also restore the body’s natural defenses so that the body can fix itself before any potential problems get worse.  Putting the skeletal structure back in line creates better circulation and flow of lymph glands, which prompts a better functioning immune system and also reduces stress. The technique was developed as a foundation of martial arts, so that fighters knew how to heal themselves and each other when wounded.

“Just like the river that flows from top to bottom, and wind, everything in nature has a flow. This is also true for energies in the body which we call ‘ki’. When the flow of the ‘ki’ is blocked, problems can arise, just like how a blocked river could cause problems” explains Mr. Suzuki. One way he says he can feel which parts of the body are not functioning correctly is by sensing the difference in temperature of the body. He also observes that most people who come to him that have a leg, hip, shoulder or neck problem have a pelvic bone that’s not in place, as the pelvic bone is the foundation of our structural balance. When the pelvic bone is not in line, the body contorts trying to compensate which creates all sorts of problems that could eventually lead to something more serious.

After a brief session, my legs are still slightly off,
but much better than being off 1 inches as we determined initially.

He told me to lay down on the examination bed for a quick demo. After a minute or so of examination (a few pokes on the sides), he determined my legs were about 1 inches different in length due to a crooked pelvis, which did not surprise me. I was told the same thing on that terrifying first visit years ago. It was corrected then, but it must have come back.  He pushed on the pressure points on my back, and immediately, I could feel my body starting to relax and warm up. Some spots were more painful when pressed. According to Mr. Suzuki, some of my pain was due to too much time spending hunched in front of the computer, one of the most common problems he sees in his patients in NYC. Then he tells me to lay on my back. He rotated my legs around, and as he did, I told him about my right knee that had been hurting. He made a quick pull and a twist on my knee. I’m not going to lie, it hurt, but this turned into a warm sensation after a minute or two. Afterwards, he lined up my legs again to make sure they were back to equal length. Not only did I feel sort of taller, my body felt light, warm, and relaxed, just like that very first time, making me a believer of the traditional seitai treatment, despite my initial introduction years ago.

Mr. Suzuki uses his entire body weight to take the tension out of my muscles.

As I skipped my way back home feeling light and happy, I stopped to notice I was not having any problems in my knee climbing up and down the subway stairs, and was once again, awed by the knowledge, tradition, and techniques of the ancient Japanese Budo masters.

——— Reported by Maya Robinson

Doin Seitai Shiatsu Center
(Classroom) 141 E 55th St., 2E, New York, NY 10022
(Office) 141 E. 55th St., New York, NY 10022
TEL: 212-697-9114
*A special intensive class and private sessions from beginners to professionals for learning Do-in seitai shiatsu technique are available.