Shiatsu could be considered a form of massage, which is often done through the clothes and incorporates simple points and holds. Its essence is simple to learn and effective. Shiatsu includes awareness of body posture, breathing and exercise. Like acupuncture, Shiatsu stimulates the body’s vital energy. Shiatsu is calm and relaxing in nature, yet dynamic in effect; the body begins to re-adjust itself and healing takes place. The receiver is supported to become more aware of their body/mind as an integrated whole, on either a conscious or subconscious level. They become aware of areas of tension or weakness on either a physical or emotional level and through this process healing occurs.
As well as the points and meridians of acupuncture, work with the physical body, muscles, joints, blood and so on, is included. Massage type strokes like kneading or effleurage are part of shiatsu. It is characterised by extensive use of pressure techniques over acupoints often done using thumb or palms. The pressure varies according to the person, the area of the body, and what the work is being done for. It can be very deep, and help ease out physical tensions. It can be very light and feel soothing. Breathing and visualisation may be included. Usually there are some stretches and mobilisations, so it can feel a bit like Thai massage or having yoga done to you. It is often done on a futon on the floor rather than a massage table. The practitioner will suggest suitable self care stretching or postural awareness exercises as appropriate.
Shiatsu has its origins thousands of years ago in Japan and was more recently formalised into its modern form over a hundred years ago. It draws on much of traditional Chinese knowledge for its theoretical base, using the same meridians and points as in acupuncture and tuina. It is now quite widely practised in the UK and throughout the world.
Shiatsu is constantly evolving as our understanding of the body evolves and different styles draw upon other bodywork traditions, including massage, cranial-sacral and soft tissue work. Some practitioners support the integration of change by including within the session other modalities such as exercise and breath awareness, dietary therapy, psycho-therapeutic and meditative practices.
Suzanne Yates did her original training in Healing-Shiatsu with Sonia Moriceau (link to the Orchard) . This approach was developed out of Sonia’s extensive years of training and practise in Zen Buddhism. By understanding the whole being, through the breathing pattern, posture and mental attitude, practitioner and client can reach to the origin of the dis-ease, be it mental or physical.
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