What is Shiatsu?

I remember when I was studying Shiatsu and one of the 3rd Years who had just graduated made a leaflet that always made me smile.  It asked the same question “What is Shiatsu?” and then said 

‘It’s not a dog….’ 

‘It’s not a kind of Japanese noodle’

‘It’s not a kind of Martial art’ 

I’ve seen other practitioners do versions of this too.  After all, when it can feel so amazing and works on so many levels of our being, how do we start to explain what Shiatsu is?

The Facts

Shiatsu means finger pressure in Japanese.  It originates in Japan.  It is based on the principles of Oriental medicine and focuses on working with the meridian channels to balance the vital energies of your body and being.  Meridians are channels for Qi (energy) that run all around the body and they all have different qualities and roles in your health and well-being.

Shiatsu practitioners use a mixture of acupressure and energy techniques, gentle or stronger stretches and rotations to move the energy in the meridian channels.  They also use gentle holding techniques to give the energies space to rebalance.  

How it works

Shiatsu can be working at any, or all, of the different levels of your being, for example:

at a physical level you may have aching shoulders, neck and back

at an emotional level you may be anxious or nervous

at a mental level you may have endless lists, thoughts and reminders whirling around your head

at a spiritual level you may be wondering if you will be able to achieve your life purpose, or maybe struggling to see your path in life clearly 

or you may be going through a life transition between jobs, houses, relationships, feeling a need for a change.  And this can stir up every level at once.  

People seek Shiatsu for a variety of reasons – physical symptoms, emotional ups and downs, not feeling like themselves, or feeling a loss of direction in their lives.  Or they might be going through big life changes like moving house, changing job, bereavement, divorce, children leaving home, parents needing care, menopause.  Or people may need specialist services to support menstrual health, fertility, pregnancy or new parenthood.  Or they want something relaxing as part of their healthcare routine.  

What to expect in a session

A session is about 1hr15 mins.  At your first session, I take a health history and chat to you about what you hope to get from Shiatsu.  At follow up sessions there is also time at the start to talk about how things are with you.  There is a shorter amount of time at the end to check in, have some water and pause before heading back out into the world.  

There is about 45 to 50 mins of actual Shiatsu time.  

You lie on a futon on the ground.  You stay fully clothed.  You might be lying on your back, front or on your side supported by cushions as needed.  If a position is uncomfortable we adapt and focus on another position e.g. during pregnancy not lying on your front.  

There may be easy energy exercises or recommendations offered to support you in between sessions.  

How often do people have Shiatsu?

Clients often start out with sessions closer together, maybe every week or fortnight, and then space them out to their preferred frequency.  This can vary depending on whether you have symptoms or situations you are working with, or using Shiatsu as part of your health care routine.  

Some people drop in now and again for a top up or a treat.  

Regular clients have Shiatsu like going to the gym or practicing yoga, because it is one of the calm, restoring spaces they want to have as a regular part of their lives.  For some it is a great way to make sure they book in regular time for something nourishing for themselves.

Why do clients love it?  

“I’d had an emotional weekend and hadn’t realised how scattered I’d been feeling until after Shiatsu.  Then I felt all my energy had been gathered back in.  I felt more centred and so much better afterwards.”  Kate, Fife

“I started seeing Helen a few years ago when suffering from anxiety, panic attacks and some depression which I put down to being menopause related.  She has helped me immensely throughout this time, I truly believe I would not be the person I am today, and where I am today, if it was not for her help and Shiatsu sessions that we have worked on. 

During Shiatsu I feel my body relaxing, piece by piece, as it recognises the music and surroundings.Very grounded, like I’m reconnecting.  Energised – I can feel a flow of warm positive energy rising.I can feel happy and giggly.  It makes me laugh, it makes me cry.I don’t profess to understand how it works but it just does.

It still amazes me how, after all the sessions I have had, with Helen, that I never know what quite to expect.  No two sessions are ever the same, even if I might request that the outcome be the same, it never is. Shiatsu, for me, is an ongoing process, that continually teaches me to ‘go with the flow’ and see what happens and develops.  

After Shiatsu, I can feel taller, purposeful, like I can breathe more freely, more full of energy and ready to take on life again. Sometimes it can be more emotional and jittery but I have learnt, with Helen’s help, that this is just things releasing and moving. It all soon settles and I get a sense of calm, like the air has cleared.”  Mel, Fife

Why do I love it? 

As a receiver, I love how Shiatsu puts me into a deeply relaxed and meditative state, and sometimes feeling my body twitching and rebalancing itself during the session.  It gives me more energy and I don’t get ill as often.  If I am emotional it helps me to release that tension, notice what is going on and what I am needing, and helps me to find my centre again.  Plus it eases any aches and creaks, and the cumulative effect of regular sessions has helped me with so many things during the 18 years I’ve been studying and practicing it.  

As a practitioner of it, I love seeing clients feel better in themselves or more resilient (emotionally or not getting ill as often).  It is an honour to support people as part of their healthcare routines, keeping their shoulder tension at bay or being part of what supports them through difficult times emotionally and physically.  After regular sessions, it is great to see the on-going  transformations in people. 

by Helen Kermode, Shiatsu Practitioner

If you’d like to try Shiatsu, have a look at the View Studio Summer Special offer for Unlimited Monthly Membership and get a Shiatsu half price as part of the deal.  

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