About Shiatsu: an Overview
Shiatsu is a form of holistic, touch-based bodywork which originated in Japan and is now practised across the world.
My shiatsu sessions are usually an hour long and take place fully clothed and without oils, on a futon mattress on the floor.
Shiatsu literally translates from the Japanese as ‘finger pressure’ and uses the same 'map' of the body and background theory as acupuncture.
In practice, a typical shiatsu session will include me applying varying depths of pressure via my palms and thumbs to the recipient's body, alongside movements such as stretches and joint mobilisations.
In any one session, the quality of physical contact is likely to vary from anywhere between still and light, through to strong or deep pressure.
Underpinning my shiatsu are the following principles:
I aim to treat you as a whole person from our first meeting throughout – whether that’s as a one-off, or a series of sessions. In practical terms, this means maintaining a broad and open awareness, even when working on a specific area of your body. I’ve found the very fact of being recognised as a whole person to be of profound importance.
Shiatsu is touch-based bodywork:
In a typical shiatsu session, I will remain in physical contact with you via both hands, or two points of contact, throughout. Although shiatsu literally translates from the Japanese as ‘finger pressure’, I tend mostly to apply pressure via my palms and thumbs, alongside movements such as stretches and joint mobilisations. In one session, the quality of physical contact is likely to vary from anywhere between still and light, through to strong or deep pressure. Because I convey pressure through the use of relaxed body weight, I am able to be responsive and work at an intensity that is comfortable, even when strongly applied. Shiatsu sessions take place fully-clothed, on a comfortable (futon) mat on the floor.
Shiatsu originated in Japan…
Shiatsu was developed in Japan and has roots in broader East-Asian culture. I trained in the Japanese martial art of aikido for a number of years, including for a year spent living in Japan. I now practice Chen style tai chi and qigong. Like aikido tai chi and qigong, I see shiatsu as a practical exploration of the following principles:
Accepting what is:
I assume people to be a mix of contradictory motivations and dispositions: maybe we want one thing and we want another; we may want to feel more at ease in our bodies yet struggle to find other ways to ‘be’. In my experience, things simplify when we see and accept our contradictions, especially when we are given supportive feedback. People are often surprised by the extent to which they become aware of various thoughts, feelings and sensations when they have shiatsu, and that the supportive presence offered by the shiatsu practitioner can be felt so tangibly through touch. I believe that this provides particularly fertile ground for new growth.
As shiatsu works with the whole self via touch and proprioception (my sense of ‘me’ in time and space), it is a particularly effective way of encouraging us to become more aware of ourselves, our tendencies and patterns: bodily, mental and emotional. As our sensitivity to perceive the size, shape and changing quality of the space we occupy in the world grows, so does our ability to feel the energetic implications of how we choose to think, hold our bodies and act.
Change is integral to life and demonstrates life’s mystery:
The prospect of change is often daunting. At the same time, I imagine most people are aware that their life, not least their health can change in unpredictable ways. Shiatsu helps us to grow self-awareness, including seeing and feeling more clearly where we are compromised. I believe the more aware of this we are, the more we see and feel the potential implications of how we choose to respond to change. This may mean choosing to let go, it may mean feeling where we have the energy to galvanise, it may mean choosing to wait and see.
I am always interested in your treatment goals and commit to being honest and realistic about how I can help you to achieve them. At the same time, even when someone comes to shiatsu with a very specific goal, I see it as an important part of my work to keep an open mind about how the shiatsu will proceed. My experience as both a shiatsu practitioner and recipient has shown me that keeping an open mind in this respect can bring us more than we might have hoped for in the first place.
…Shiatsu is now practised globally
The development of modern shiatsu has been influenced by ‘western’ perspectives from the very start, both within and outside of Japan. As could be expected, shiatsu practice has adapted to take into account local cultures and the existing skills, knowledge and experience of practitioners across the world. My training with the Bristol School of Shiatsu, explicitly emphasised growing authenticity and integrity in my relationships with others. In my work as a shiatsu practitioner I aim to offer trustworthiness, compassion and sincerity.