Friday, 13 June 2008

The Japanese Art of Shiatsu - Key Principles

Shiatsu is based on the same principles as traditional Chinese medicine, according to which the life energy (ki in Japanese, qi in Chinese) circulates around the body through meridians. There are 14 meridians, each of which is associated with a major organ. Some practitioners work on whole meridians, while others focus on specific shiatsu points. There are about 600 points arranged symmetrically on the meridians on the body.

Stimulating the acupoints externally by finger pressure and massage is said to influence the flow of ki, dispersing energy from where there is an excess (jitsu) and replenishing areas that are depleted (kyo). This is said to re-establish balance and restore health.

Practice makes perfect

The most important thing about shiatsu is using your body weight correctly to apply pressure. As you can imagine, to get this right requires considerable practice.

In the courses I teach, the students spend their first 5 minutes crawling around the room on all fours. This is a simple way of teaching them how to relax their weight onto their hands, which is a key to applying pressure correctly in shiatsu.

Applying pressure

Shiatsu is usually performed on the floor. Do not prod your partner's skin, but relax with your arms straight, and lean slowly in with your body weight. In this way, you can apply very deep pressure without causing pain. Hold the pressure for about 5 seconds, so that you have time to tune into your partner's body and so that your partner becomes aware of his or her own body and gradually relaxes.

The supporting, or "mother," hand is a very important concept in shiatsu, and means that one hand is active while the other is receptive and "listens" to the body, therefore encouraging a flow of hi. Try to establish a rhythm and work slowly, so that you stay still for a while with each pressure.

You can use shiatsu pressures simply on their own or in combination with another massage sequence.

No comments: