What is Do-In?

The easiest way to describe Do-In is as "self shiatsu" or "exercises for health". Shizuto Masunaga, author of Meridian Exercises, explains "Do of Do-In means to open up channels and facilitate the movement of energy along specific routes. In of Do-In means to move and stretch one's limbs to achieve this purpose."1

The basis of the Do-In exercises I share are to encourage mind and body integration. This has the effect of allowing Ki to flow freely throughout the body. The exercises are performed with an emphasis on imagery, breathing and relaxation.

Most of the exercises are taught to Shiatsu practitioners during their training, including basic Do-In (self shiatsu), Makko-Ho (meridian exercises)and complementary meridian exercises. The three minute exercise and wrist exercises along with other Ki development exercises are included from Ki-Aikido.

Do-In Exercises

The following exercises are a reminder for students who have just started learning Do-In. These exercises should first be performed under supervision in class so that any mistakes and misunderstandings can be corrected.

A General Do-In Routine

A Simple Do-In Routine

All tapping is done with loose fists and wrists.

  • Tap top of head with loose fist or fingertips
  • Wipe the forehead with hand, repeat other side
  • Rest upper orbit on fingertips
  • Hang fingertips on lower orbit
  • Press, using finger tips, both sides of the nose
  • Rest cheek bones on fingertips moving from front of face out to side of face
  • Pinch jaw top and bottom moving from front of face out to side of face
  • Rotate and pull ears
  • Massage neck with hand, repeat other side
  • Support elbow and tap opposite shoulder, repeat other side
  • Tap top of chest
  • Tap down inside of arm then up out side of arm, repeat several times before doing on other side
  • Tap lower chest
  • Rub tummy in a clockwise direction
  • Tap lower back or exchange with partner working down the back with partner bent forward to present back
  • Tap Buttocks
  • Tap down side of legs and back up inside, remember to bend knees as you reach down the leg
  • Tap down back of legs and back up the front, remember to bend knees as you reach down the leg

Once you get the general idea you may wish to get creative and add to this list or even skip parts.

The Shoulder Shrug Exercise

Sitting or standing

  • While taking a deep breath. Roll your shoulders: forward, up, then back
  • Abandoning the breath let your shoulders drop down your back
  • Repeat 3-5 times

If you take a big breath and make your movements big, to the first part of this exercise, you will find that your chest rises and comes forward. This will straighten your spine creating an exaggerated posture. As your shoulders come back your chin will tuck in, lengthening the back of your neck.

Having created this exaggerated posture during the in-breath, you are now free to release your shoulders in a manner that will enable your shoulder blades to drop down your back. Your chest, which is still forward, is now in a position to support your shoulders without the need of tension. As your shoulders are now naturally sliding down your back you will find that you no longer need to hold them in place.

When you have repeated this exercise a few times, take note of how you feel, then forget about it and go back to what you were doing. It is important that you do not try to keep yourself in this exaggerated position. You will just succeed in tightening. Rather listen for your body telling you when to repeat the exercise. Repeat again at the first sign of stiffness, ache or when you catch yourself slouching badly.

Arm Swinging Exercises

Horizontal twist

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart, slight bend in the knees, arms loose by your sides, eyes looking straight ahead.
  • Turn your upper body 90° to the left, picking a spot on the wall at eye level, letting your arms swing out as you turn.
  • Turn your upper body to the right 90° from centre, picking a spot on the opposite wall at eye level, letting your arms swing out as you turn.
  • Repeat

It is important to direct the exercise with your eyes. By looking left and right at eye level you pivot nicely, keeping your weight above your centre of gravity. If you look down then your weight comes forward of your centre making the body tense as it tries to maintain your balance.

A large aspect of this exercise is to relax the body and let if move freely. You will know you are doing this if your arms hit off the body both sides. If not then you are holding your arms in position. Let them fly about like pieces of weighted string.

There is no need to turn beyond 90° each side of centre. If you do you will at some point come past where you are flexible and pull yourself off your centre of gravity, making your body tense to maintain balance.

Vertical drop

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart, slight bend in the knees, arms above your head, eyes looking straight ahead.
  • Release your arms letting them drop forward, creating an arc. Let the movement expel the air from your lungs.
  • As your arms drop, deepen the bend in your knees.
  • Allow the momentum to carry your arms past centre swinging freely.
  • As your arms return and swing forward, straighten your knees and take a deep breath.
  • Maintain the momentum and bring your arms back to their starting position
  • Repeat

The object of this exercise is to create big relaxed movement of the shoulders with minimal effort from the shoulders. Allow your breathing to be big and relaxed and in time with the movement. This reduces friction and adds to the movement.

Don't bend your elbows during this exercise as you will loose some of the momentum as well as hurt your wrists as your arm snaps straight.

The knee bends come out as a double bounce. A deepening bounce on the down stroke, a lifting bounce on the up. By bouncing your knees you absorb excess energy from the downward swing that would crash your shoulders into your neck in a whiplash movement as your arms swing back. This energy is put back into the movement during the upwards part of the bounce.

The Psoas Exercise

This exercise is best done in bed before getting up in the morning and repeated at the end of your working day when you are ready to relax for the night. Failing that then once you return to bed before going to sleep.

  • Lie on your back with one knee drawn up and held in both hands
  • Let your arms extend so that the knee is upright rather than drawn to the chest
  • As you breath in, draw your other knee up, however this time keeping your foot on the ground. Sliding your foot along the floor towards your bum
  • Breathing out, slide your foot away, keeping it on the floor, returning your leg to the floor
  • When your leg is straight, relax your leg letting the foot drop out
  • Repeat 16 times each side. Twice a day

Wrist Exercises

3 Minute Exercise

This is a Ki-Aikido warm up routine that is included as part of the Do-In class. As well as a good warm up this sequence when done right also helps co-ordinate mind and body, grounds you and helps you move from your centre.

All exercises are done to the count of eight, then repeated.

Always start to the left.

Following exercises are done twice each side (one and two), before repeating on the other side (three and four), etc.

  • Feet apart, sight bend in knees, rotate upper body 90° to the side, allowing arms to swing out.
  • Feet apart, bring arm up to the vertical, then bending body sideways past the vertical towards the horizontal on the opposite side.
  • Feet apart, bend knees, bend body bringing arms and head between your legs for double count, then standing upright extending back beyond the vertical, looking up and back for double count.
  • Feet apart, looking straight ahead, elbows out, middle fingers touching, twist upper body to the side.
  • Feet apart, hands on hips, drop head to the side.
  • Feet apart, hands on hips, drop head forward for double count then back for double count.
  • Feet apart, hands on hips, turn head to look over shoulder.
  • Feet together, dip by bending knees then straighten double count, then up on toes again double count.
  • Turn one foot out extending foot, heel on ground, bend on back leg as bum moves back.

Following exercises are done four times, before repeating on other side.

  • Arm above head, drop across body allowing to swing out and back up to starting position above head. Change sides on the drop.
  • Both arms above head, dropping across body and out and back up to start position above head. Change direction from start position, arms dropping out returning up and across the body.
  • Repeat previous this time bending knees on the drop.

If done right this will have taken 3 minutes.


1. Meridian Exercises The Oriental Way to Health and Vitality (1987) by Shizuto Masunaga, translated by Stephen Brown, Pg54, Ln5. Japan Publications Inc Tokyo and New York

© Copyright 2010-23 John Williamson MRSS - Professional Bodywork Therapist. All Rights Reserved.