Shiatsu is a physical therapy originating from Japan based on traditional Chinese medicine ideas that support the body's natural ability to self-heal. Working on a holistic level, this therapy addresses emotional, spiritual and physical aspects of health.
The word Shiatsu is Japanese. “Shi-” refers to finger, and “-atsu” means pressure.
The practice uses comfortable pressure, touch and manipulative techniques. This balances energy flow and adjusts elements of the body's physical structure.
Shiatsu derives from a Japanese massage style called Anma, which was adapted from Tui Na.
A deeply relaxing therapy, shiatsu can be used to reduce stress and promote overall health and well-being, which is what we all need in this stressful world.
Shiatsu therapy works with the body's vital energy known as Qi (pronounced Chee). In TCM, it is believed that when this energy becomes blocked, it causes illness. Using pressure to stimulate the energy channels (known as the meridians), Shiatsu will try to unblock any energy that has been blocked, which in turn helps the body's natural healing process.
Shiatsu also works very much on a physical level as well as working on a more spiritual level. Massage strokes and manipulation techniques are used alongside posture awareness, breathing and physical exertions.
This is called shiatsu massage; this work can be very deep to remove tension from the body or light to encourage relaxation. These days there are many different styles and philosophical approaches to shiatsu; all, however, are based on traditional Chinese medicine theories.
The body and mind are impossible to separate. This means when we have poor posture and are holding tension in our muscles, it can affect how we feel inside. The same happens when we feel down in the dumps; we become more uptight and apathetic physically. Touch therapy, such as massage, recognises this and uses supportive touch to encourage healing.
We have been addicted to touch since when we were babies. Shiatsu takes this theory on a step, working on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.
In traditional Chinese medicine, these things are considered expressions of our qi. Our Qi flows throughout the body using pathways called meridians. In Eastern medicine, it is believed that when these channels become blocked, illness can result. By freeing up these blockages and allowing the Qi to flow freely, the body is better positioned to heal itself.
Your Shiatsu practitioner will be able to tell where areas of blocked energy are. Working with the meridian points, they will apply pressure to the blocked areas to re-balance the body and promote healing.
TCM practitioners say there are 12 key meridians in the body, all linking to a physical organ or function within the body. They are split equally into six 'yin' and six 'yang'.
Yin and yang describe relationships. Cold and hot, night and day, inside and outside, woman and man. Yin and yang oppose each other, Yin and Yang are interdependent, Yin and yang support each other, and Yin and yang transform into each other.
Shiatsu is a holistic and natural therapy and can benefit most people.
Many use it as a form of stress management or as a preventative health care programme. The therapy can promote overall well-being, even if you are fit and healthy.