Costa Rica: Illuminating Education

During my trip Costa Rica, where I taught my Oriental Diagnosis course, “Reading the Body”, I had the chance to enjoy the abundance of nature in this beautiful country. I learned so much. I was invited to be part of a special lecture series for the 40th Anniversary celebration of the National University of Costa Rica‘s (Heredia). More than 100 people, including medical doctors, therapists, and laypeople, attended my 3-day workshop.

Hotel Bougainvillia gardens

First, while in Heridia, I lodged at the Bougainvillea Hotel. This is a wonderful hotel for many reasons. They have more than 10 acres of beautiful gardens that attract many birds: Hummingbirds, Blue crowned Motmots, Palm Tanagers, Tropical Kingbirds, Boat-Billed Flycatchers — among many others.

The hotel also exhibits tremendous environmental and social responsibility, and received the Certificate of Sustainable Development granted by the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism. The owners built a school on the hotel grounds; contributes to the elderly and a local shelter; and provides scholarships to local children.

Costa Rica does not have a military, so money is available for education and human well-fare, including medical care. Because of the quality of education, many foreign students from other Spanish-speaking countries study in Costa Rica.

One of the professors at my workshop invited me to visit a coffee plantation where I learned how they grow, harvest, roast and package their coffee. Tarrazú canton in the highlands is thought to produce the most desirable Arabica coffee beans in Costa Rica and in the world. I was happy to buy many bags to bring back to family and friends.

Basilicla

On another day, I visited the Irazu volcano, which is 3300 meters high. On the way we passed Cartago which is famous because millions of pilgrims trek each year to the majestic Basílica Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, to pay respect to Costa Rica’s patron saint, “La Negrita.” Some walk for as many as eight straight days.

Perhaps my favorite part of the trip was visiting the Braulio Carrillo National Park. Ranging from high-altitude cloud forest to tropical lowlands rainforest, it maintains one of the highest levels of biodiversity in Costa Rica. I spent a night in the rainforest jungle, at the LaSelva Biological Station, which is recognized internationally as one of the most productive field stations in the world for tropical forest research.

OhashiRainforest

While there, I saw for myself how nature is so complicated and interwoven. The guides showed me a “second forest.” They explained that when part of the forest is destroyed, even though they try to restore it with a “second forest,” even after 100 years of growth, it is not the same as the original. Not all species will return to a second forest. We must take this lesson: we believe if we return nature, we believe it will be the same. I learned from my experience in Costa Rica that this is a fallacy. We must protect what is there, for once gone, it will never be the same.

golden orb weaver spider
While I was there I was able to enjoy the many monkeys and different birds; so many different types of orchids; and spiders. One is very weird looking and fascinating, too. Scientists are studying the Golden Orb Spider because its silk is one of the strongest materials, natural or man-made in the world. Their silk is about 5x stronger than steel and 3x stronger than Kevlar. Some of the possible uses for this include earthquake-resistant bridges, medical sutures, and bullet-proof vests.

We can learn so much from nature, for so many applications, but particularly for natural medicine. So rather than renew them, we have to protect our rainforests.

This trip to Costa Rica has given me a life-long memory. I am grateful to my sponsors, Angeles Arenas of the U.N. and Ana Rodriguez Allen of the National University, who made this trip possible.

~Ohashi
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Healing Touch for Yoga

How Ohashi Method/Ohashiatsu® Can Bring a Healing Touch for Yoga that Students and Teachers Will Love

Ohashi assists Ambria in stretching

Ohashi assists Ambria in stretching

By Ambria Mathew, Founder, Zoga Yoga

While many Yogis worldwide embrace an holistic approach to health and wellness, utilizing Ayurveda, massage, reiki, crystals  and other modalities, the Ohashi Method/Ohashiatsu is especially effective to combine with Yoga practice. Developed by Ohashi sensei over 40 years of teaching and practice, his method combines stretching muscles and meridians together as part of a treatment. These meridians or energy lines are similar to the Nadi lines spoken of in Yoga, which we want to keep energized for well-being and health.

For many people who practice yoga, their precious tools may include their yoga mat, a copy of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and perhaps the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. I would also recommend Ohashi’s latest DVD as a valuable tool because it combines two modalities in an easy to adapt-format, for both private students and group class situations.  It also provides an excellent introduction to Ohashiatsu® for those Yogis eager to explore this beautiful modality of holistic bodywork, and a great visual as to how they could possibly combine it with the Yoga Practice.

Ohashi yoga Ambria4

Assistance for bridge pose

Learning various stretches and pressure points will help sedate muscles, and allow the flow of prana.  While I am grateful to have completed and graduated the Ohashiatsu Program, I realize some people may want something they can use with private yoga students, or even themselves. The best investment would be the newest Ohashi Method™ DVD (you can find it at Ohashi.com) that takes Yoga students and teachers on a journey through basic stretches that relate to meridians in the body.

ABOUT AMBRIA

Ambria is an International Yoga and Ayurveda Teacher (ERYT), certified in Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Pre/Post Natal & Kids Yoga. She has taught and shared her teachings for over 10 years in the United States, Canada, and India. She is the founder of Zoga Yoga, a Yoga Alliance Registered school that provides private Yoga classes, workshops, teacher instruction, and retreats. To learn more about Ambria and Zoga Yoga, visit her website at zogayoga.com

Celebrating 25 Years in Italy!

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Celebrating our Silver Anniversary in Italy!

 It is hard to believe that Ohashi started teaching his Ohashiatsu®/Ohashi Method™ in Italy more than 25 years ago.  From a small class of 12 in 1987 in the town of Rivoli to having more than 39 Certified Ohashiatsu® Instructors (COI) and Consultants (COC) in Italy is astounding, and humbling.  There will be a series of workshop in Torino and Aqui Terme and a big party in Torino.  But first a little history.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ohashi’s story, he came to the U.S. in the 1970s, and while studying English at Howard University practiced shiatsu at the Watergate Health Club in Washington ,DC. where he began to develop a famous clientele. He soon decided that he wanted to teach and that it would be better to be located in New York City. In 1974 he founded the Ohashi Institute (the Shiatsu Education Center of America), which was one of the first schools in the U.S. to offer a program in shiatsu and oriental healing.  He also published his first book, Do It Yourself Shiatsu (1976),

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which was quickly translated into foreign languages, including Italian.  Because of his book, one day a young macrobiotic teacher from Torino,

Imagewho had read it, showed up at the Institute. That was around 1986.  His name was Alfonso Crosetto. He returned to Torino to open an Ohashi Institute in that city and offered the entire Ohashiatsu program. In the beginning, Ohashi sent Certified Ohashiatsu instructors from Germany and the U.S. to teach in Torino until there were enough graduates to train as instructors.

One of the first was Germana Fruttarola, who also became the sponsor of the program in Torino and worked tirelessly to promote the program in Italy.  Soon after came Silvia Rossi, who still heads the school in Milan;

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and then Siegrid Maidorn in Rome,

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who taught and sponsored for many years.  These early instructors were followed by many others, who teach in almost every region in Italy. There are now 15 towns and cities where courses are offered.

Q: Ohashi, what’s your favorite Italian city? 

Ohashi: “This is the most difficult question that I must answer. The reason why is so simple. I love any place in Italy – all the regions, small towns and big cities, because the Italian spirit and love of life is everywhere.

However I shall always have fond memories of the many times I taught in Mergozzo, a small village near Lake Maggiore. There were always beautiful mountain flowers in bloom and the village residents were friendly. I taught many Advanced II retreat courses there in a wonderful small hotel whose owner spoiled us with his wonderful cooking.”

Q: You have given many Ohashiatsu treatments all over the world in the last 40 years. Did you have any famous Italian clients?

Ohashi: “Yes, Signore and Signora Giovanni Agnelli.

Signore Agnelli was the chairman of Fiat, a very important company in Italy that helped it recover from World War II.  The family was well respectd in Italy.   “In 1993, Dr. Henry Kissinger referred Mr. Agnelli to me in 1993.  Our instructors in Torino, Domenico Bassi and Gianpiero Bellini, helped me set up appointments at his residence in Torino.. When he and Mrs. Agnelli visited Rome and New York, which was often, I would give them Ohashiatsu treatments.  I continued his treatments for the rest of his life.  I will always be amazed by his elegancy in life. Never before or after, has anyone greeted me in such an elegant manner. I learned a lot from him about how to treat people in my life.”

Q: From your teaching experience all over the world, do you see any significant differences between Italian students and other students?

Ohashi: I do not see any big difference between Italian students and others in terms of studying and practicing. Most of our Italian students, especially our COIs and COCs, are committed to giving their best.  But I found that around 1995, at the same time that Italy joined the “Euro system,” Italian students became more punctual. Before the “Euro,” Italian students were unreliable about coming to class on time. They had their own “Italian time.” But after the “Euro” they became very punctual and “time effective” people. Since I am a very time-conscious man, I noticed this change immediately.

Ohashi is looking forward to seeing many students and newcomers in Torino for this celebration and in his courses. He will be teaching Yoga & Ohashiatsu, Ohashi Method for Pregnancy and Birth, and his Oriental Diagnosis course, October 18-21.

There will be students from the Ohashiatsu programs in France and the Netherlands as well, to participate in the Oriental Diagnosis course. “We are planning a big party in Torino on the evening of October 21. I am looking forward to see all of our students, graduates, instructors and consultants, and all of our many friends.”

Join in the celebration!  Join us for these wonderful teachings!  For more information on Ohashi Method™/Ohashiatsu®, log on to Ohashiatsu.org.  For information on the workshop, see the blog post below, or log on to Ohashi.it.

 

 

Crawling for Adults

Many of us know that babies’ crawling stage is a vital step in their development.  But did you know that crawling can help improve health for adults?

Because we depend so much on our linear-thinking and computer skills in today’s technological society, we aren’t developing both sides of our brain.  We primarily rely on only one half of our brain – the left side, which controls logic, math, language, reading, reason, analysis, detail, short-term memory, repetition, and structure, to name a few.  Right-side brain activity – individuality, creativity, emotions – is actually discouraged in our culture.


When the brain is balanced, both sides communicate and we are able to perform different types of more tasks easily.

Without continually developing the right hemisphere of our grey matter — which controls creative thinking, rhythm, facial recognition, long-term memory, emotions and dreams — we may miss out on “big picture”, have trouble piecing ideas and concepts together, and lack vision. When the brain is balanced, both sides communicate and we are able to perform different types of more tasks easily.  It helps in problem solving, creative thinking for ideas and projects, and reduces mental stress.

Another potential problem in our modern lifestyle is that muscle tightness, and some say even trauma, can also interrupt the connections between the right and left brain, which may result in poor coordination of spinal muscles (which may lead to joint and vertebrae misalignments), and even allergies.

Cross-patterning exercises can help alleviate the symptoms of trauma, and, perhaps more importantly, can improve our overall performance at work and play, greatly improving our quality of life.

You can find some formal re-patterning or cross-patterning exercises, or why not just do it the old-fashioned way?  Get down on the floor and crawl around.  What will you gain?  How about the benefits of:

• Balance of the right and left brain hemispheres
• Improved coordination & spatial awareness
• Left/Right hemisphere brain balance
• Reduced stress
• Emotional balance
• Improved memory
• Improved mental clarity
• Improved vision
• Stimulation of the lymphatic system
• Better flow of the cerebral spinal fluid

• Spelling, writing
• Reading & comprehension

Crawling feels wonderful on the back, brings you a little more down-to-earth, and your young children or pets will love you for it!

And if you want to add to your crawling experience, take an Ohashi Method/Ohashiatsu course near you!  This unique form of bodywork uses crawling, or cross-patterning, as the backbone (pun intended) of its movement techniques.  So while you’re having fun taking an Ohashi Method course and helping yourself with cross-patterning, you can make your friends and loved ones feel great, too!

For courses in the US, log on to www.ohashiatsu.org, and LIKE us on Facebook . We hope you join us soon and learn to crawl toward better health!

JAPANESE KNIVES (HOCHYO). Part 1 – Swords in the Kitchen

When John Steinbeck, the famous American novelist, came to Japan for the International Pen Club convention, he bought several Japanese cooking knives as souvenirs.  I’ve always been curious to know why Mr. Steinbeck was fascinated by these knives.  He may have been impressed by the quality of Japanese knives, or by their sharpness, or perhaps he was amazed by their variety.  Since he has passed away and since I can’t find any clue in his writings, I don’t know what prompted him to buy these knives.  But I sometimes evaluate people by what they buy as gifts from foreign countries, and I am impressed that John Steinbeck didn’t buy cheap Kimonos or cameras or pearls for souvenirs.

Japanese cooking knives are first of all of extremely good quality and, secondly of great variety.  Part of our cultural heritage is swordmaking and this traditional skill has inspired Japanese cutlery. The Japanese sword is a symbol of Japanese Samurai culture. In past centuries, when one looked at a sword one could tell to whom it belonged, his social status, his ability as a Samurai, something of his swordmanship, and also of his spirituality.  Samurai always competed to possess the best sword which encouraged swordmakers to improve the quality of their work.  Because swords were so important, swordmakers kept the secrets of their technology among their family or disciples.

One of the greatest secrets in the process of making swords is the temperature of the water used in tempering the blade.  Again and again, the sword is removed from the heat, hammered and immersed in water.  The precise temperature is what gives durability and sharpness – so each maker kept this secret to himself.  Occasionally a new apprentice or a stranger to the workshop would pretend to fall and in doing so would stick his hand in the water.  The swordmaker had the right to chop off his hand there and then.  The same kind of secret technology is now involved in Japanese knife-making since we no longer need swords for fighting.  Each Japanese knife maker is proud to put his own name on his knife; as if it represents his spirit in material form.  When a Japanese chef is permitted to open his own restaurant, after grueling years of apprenticeship, and be his own master, he is given the best quality knives as a symbol of his craftsmanship, his spirituality and his dedication, as if they were the sword of a Samurai.

Every morning a Japanese chef sharpens his knives as if he were sharpening his cooking abilities.  Japanese food such as Sashimi is so simple – just sliced raw fish prepared with no sauce or dressing; because of this it is difficult to impress with your cooking expertise.  Slicing is the only preparation and how you slice can be evaluated at the first bite of sashimi.  Next time when you go to a Japanese restaurant sit in front of the Sushi Bar.  After the first bite if you have the courage to say to the chef, “You haven’t sharpened your knife today; though I find your raw fish very fresh, the cut is dull,” the chef will respect you and give you the best quality food.  The importance of the knife is great; such a simple factor, which cannot be camouflaged.  When a chef moves from one restaurant to another he always brings his own knives; he is attached to them as if they were a part of himself.  When he retires or gives up his franchise he will allow his disciple or son to use his name and restaurant and will generally give his knives as a symbol of giving his own self.

~  TO BE CONTINUED

Next time:  Variety of Knives

 

Cooking Fried Rice: a Little Enlightment

 This is a wonderful recipe which I cook in the wok. The wok is my favorite tool! With a wok you can deep fry, sauté, boil and even steam. And this is my top secret – I cook a very beautiful smoked fish with a wok.

If you have a very good wok – heavy, big and well seasoned – you can make fried rice. Try this recipe. After you’ve made this recipe a couple of times, then read this next sentence:

Did you make this fried rice three times? I believe you made a mess.

This is my advice…

First, burn your wok until it is smoking. This means you cannot make good fried rice with aluminum or teflon coated or an electric wok. You need a gas burner with at least 2000 BTUs. After the wok smokes, wipe up the inside with a paper towel to clean out any previous leftovers. Then add your vegetable oil and as soon as possible add your ingredients according to the time it takes to cook each ingredient. For example, add the onion and ginger first. If you don’t organize your ingredients in a chronological cooking order, you will make a big mess.

Second advice – when you are frying rice, always hurry up; always move your body, shaking your back with the wok over a high flame. Keep all your ingredients ready and at hand. Never look for salt during the cooking.

Final advice- If you are very impatient in your life, cooking with a wok is the best teacher for you.

If you aren’t always relaxed or a little enlightened – don’t cook with a wok. 

FRIED RICE Recipe

2 cups rice, cooked and cooled

¼ lb. chicken, raw and diced

1/3  lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined

½ onion, diced

Green of one leek, broken (but not cut) in 2 in. lengths

1/3 leek, chopped coarsely

¼ lb. cooked (or canned) bamboo shoots, diced

1 medium carrot, diced

1 ½ tsp. soy sauce

1 ½ tsp. dry sherry

6 Tbls. vegetable oil

2 eggs, beaten lightly with pinch of salt

Salt

Mix soy sauce, dry sherry and leek greens. Marinade the chicken in this mixture for 15 minutes.

Heat 1 Tbls of oil in wok and stir-fry chicken over high heat until tender. Drain and set aside.

Rub shrimp with salt, wash and drain, and sprinkle with salt again. Heat 1 Tbls. oil, and stir-fry shrimp over high heat until color changes. Remove.

Heat 1 Tbls oil, and stir-fry onion, mushroom, bamboo shoot, and carrot over high heat. Add chicken and shrimp to vegetables, mix and divide into two parts.

Heat 3 Tbls oil and stir-fry leek briefly over high heat, pour in egg mixture and scramble. Remove half of scrambled eggs to plate, leaving half in wok.

Add 1 Tbls oil to wok, heat again, and fry half of cooked rice over high heat until grains are separated, stirring constantly. Then add half of vegetable-meat mixture, and stir well. Add soy sauce and salt to taste. Remove to plate. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Combine in serving dish and serve hot.

Beautiful Movement

We had a wonderful Practical Course at Integral Yoga Institute last weekend.  Seventeen students came from all over the world to study Ohashi Method.  Because this was a very intimate class with only 17 students, each and every one of them was able to receive touch directly from me at least three times.  They very much enjoyed it.

It is wonderful to see beginners and professional bodyworkers alike improve and change how their bodies move.  When your body moves right, with less effort and greater efficiency, your whole self feels better. This is particularly important for bodyworkers who give so much of themselves. But it is important for everyone.

Poor posture causes many physical pains. With poor posture your muscles are stretched all the time. This makes them feel sore and tired because they are working when and in ways they don’t need to be. Poor posture means you are working against gravity. Using gravity and being in tonus (relaxed alignment), means your posture will improve. When we teach the Ohashi Method (or Ohashiatsu), we teach students how to use gravity and their Hara ~ your center of being, movement and strength ~ which many now call your “core.”  When you learn to move from Hara, your body moves with less effort ~ in everything you do ~ and more efficiently.  When you move from Hara, your whole life improves and becomes easier.

Some students took short videos during the course so you may see them on YouTube soon. There are already many videos to be seen there of our instructors and of me teaching around the world. We have our own channel on YouTube, “ohashiinstitute” which we will soon be expanding. So I hope you all enjoy!

On Monday, Bonnie and I will fly to Valencia, Spain.  Valencia is like a small Paris because of the beautiful architecture of the older section of the city. There I will teach Healing Scarf Therapy, Emotional Problems and Meridian Therapy, and Oriental Diagnosis, from May 3-6.  I will teach in English with translators, so if you want to fly over and join us, we would be so happy!

Health & Peace,

                               Ohashi

For more information on studying the Ohashi Method/Ohashiatsu, log on to Ohashiatsu.org, or Ohashi.com.  You may also LIKE our fan page on Facebook.