Yoga Mind & bodywork for Health and Transformation
What is Shiatsu?
What happens in a treatment?
Conditions helped by Shiatsu

What is Shiatsu?

Originating in Japan, Shiatsu (literally 'finger pressure') is both a deeply relaxing yet also powerfully invigorating combination of physical and energetic bodywork. It has evolved out of traditional oriental medicine and massage, combined with modern physiotherapy techniques, and mainly involves having pressure applied to points along the energy pathways (meridians). These are similar to the points and meridians that are used in acupuncture. The pressure relaxes the muscles and promotes circulation and stimulates the natural healing process in the body. This disperses blockages caused by injuries, illness or tension, tonifies weak areas, and rebalances the body's energetic system. Even when there are areas of the body, which cannot tolerate touch, they can be benefited by treating other parts of the meridians, which flow through those areas. This could be likened to opening up a water channel to release a flood, or holding it back with a dam, to increase the level in a lake.

..if we respect the mysteries of life and make the patient aware of himself, disease will disappear and the patient will endeavour to get well on his own.
~ Shizuto Masunaga, author of Zen Shiatsu ~

From the Western point of view, shiatsu balances the autonomic nervous system. This has the effect of relaxing the body and calming the mind, while promoting the functions, which repair and replenish the organs and increase resistance to stress. By releasing tension and stimulating blood and lymph circulation in the body, shiatsu helps to maintain and improve muscle tone and optimize internal organ functions. It seems that shiatsu also helps boost the immune system and resistance to infection. Regular and consistent shiatsu treatments are therefore an important aspect of preventive health care as well as treatment for existing symptoms.

What happens in a treatment?

Every Shiatsu session is different because every person is different and has different imbalances at different times, so treatment is customized to suit your needs at that particular time. Sessions last approximately one hour and start with a health history interview, as described above in the initial consultation section.

You remain clothed for the treatment, which will take place on a padded futon mattress, on the floor. You may first be taken through a short, guided relaxation, which helps ensure that you are in a comfortable and receptive state.
After some preliminary stretches and/ or a foot massage, there may be a light palpation of your abdomen to help select the meridians to focus on in the treatment. Your joints will be gently articulated to loosen and lubricate them and the muscles stretched to release tension, before applying pressure to points along the meridian pathways, while you are lying or sitting, relaxed and supported in various positions.
The pressure is applied with thumbs, fingers, palms, elbows, knees or feet and by leaning onto the areas using body weight and gravity. The degree of pressure varies and can sometimes feel tender, but with a feeling of relief and always within what you find comfortable.
The purpose is to stimulate and balance the flow of life force energy (known in Japanese as ki) along the meridian pathways, which balances the body physically, mentally and emotionally and promotes healing and replenishment.
The experience is usually both profoundly relaxing yet also energizing. Sometimes you may feel sleepy after a session, which is usually an indication that you have been depleting your energy reserves and need to rest. Occasionally there may be other healing reactions as described in the general information section.

Conditions helped by shiatsu

Shiatsu works to balance the body's energetic system and stimulates its inherent healing mechanisms. Thus shiatsu is a very safe therapy and can be beneficial for a very wide range of conditions, some of which are:

  • Muscle and joint imbalances, injuries and diseases
  • Digestive disorders
  • Menstrual, reproductive and fertility problems
  • Autoimmune and immune deficiency conditions
  • Breathing restrictions

It can also help with:

  • Circulation and blood pressure control
  • Stress, depression and anxiety
  • Improving sleep patterns
  • Alleviating discomfort in pregnancy
  • Balancing energy levels
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