What's a Dojo?


8 Limbs Youth Yoga practices at the Aikido of South Brooklyn dojo. Aikido is a traditional martial art from Japan. It is for self-defense and, like yoga, it is a path for spiritual growth. It is not a competitive sport. The goal of aikido--both physically and philosophically--is control aggression without inflicting injury. 

The Japanese word aikido has three parts:

  • Ai: harmony
  • Ki: energy
  • Do: way or path

So, aikido roughly means “the way of harmonizing with energy.”

The word dojo, the place where aikido is practiced, means, “the place of the way.” The dojo is a sacred space dedicated to the pursuit of becoming a healthier, more mindful, and more compassionate individual. What better environment could there be for also practicing yoga? 

You may notice an alter-like stucture some of our pictures. This is called the shomen or kamiza. The frame is called a torii, or gate. Within the gate, you'll see a scroll that says aikido in Japanese, a photograph of aikido's founder Morihei Ueshiba, flowers, and sometimes other decorations. In the background you may also see wooden staffs (called jo) and swords (called bokken).

There is a special etiquette for aikido classes, two important aspects of which we incorporate in our yoga practice: no shoes on the mats and how we sit during class. During aikido classes, students sit cross-legged (sukhasana, easy pose) or seiza (sitting on the shins). In yoga class, we ask students to also sit this way or in virasana (hero pose). Sitting up straight helps with concentration, focus, and correct alignment for breathing. It also looks better than slouching or lying about! And everybody takes off their shoes when entering the dojo. 

To learn more about aikido, please visit the Aikido of South Brooklyn website.


Josh Paul