Misogi 禊 And Meditation 瞑想
The rigours of martial practices can put considerable strain on a persons body if they are not relaxed and mentally prepared. For this reason it is important to practice in a calm and relaxed manner. A person can better improve this by undertaking meditative practices (Meiso 瞑) which is encouraged in many dojos.
One of the more common of these in aikido is the practice zazen (座禅, sitting silent meditation) which may occur at the start or finish of a class usually this is Shikantaza (只管打坐) method which involves emptying the mind.
This practice of emptying the mind is called mushin no shin (無心の心) meaning mind without mind, and is the ability to do things without thinking about the past or the future or reacting emotionally.
Along with this traditional Aikido also encourages preparation through ritual purification exercises (Misogi 禊) the simplest of which can be done during class.
Tori Fune鳥船 And Furi tama 降り魂
The commonest misogi exercise performed is ame-no-ToriFune-no-gyo (天鳥船の御, Heavenly Boat) also called fune.ko.gi.undo (船漕ぎ運動, Boat Rowing Exercise). This is an exercise of rowing the hips back and forth in a stable posture, swinging the arms similar to rowing a Japanese boat. It is designed to help the body relax and to clear the mind.
This exercise is coupled with furitama.no.gyo (降り魂 the soul shaking exercise). Where the hands are clasped together and shaken. Often Followed by sayu undo (左右 運動, swaying exercise).
A less common practice is that of koto dama (言霊 or spirit chanting) which is used to centre the body and clear the mind it is also good for morale. There is a belief that different sound frequencies produced are able to alter the way the body and the mind works. In Aikido the most noteworthy for of this is the KiAi (気合, Fighting Yell).