The word shiatsu literally translates as “finger-pressure”. However, shiatsu is more than just a way to apply physical pressure to various points of the body. It goes far beyond that to involve total communication between therapist and client. A good shiatsu treatment is like a dance in which the therapist, through compassion and skill, awakens the client’s own healing energies.
In meridian style shiatsu, the shiatsu therapist applies comfortable pressure to all parts of the client’s body with hands and thumbs, elbows, knees and even feet. The skilled therapist chooses the appropriate technique according to the degree of pressure required and the physical condition of the client. Disease in traditional Oriental medicine is the result of imbalance of the life energy, “chi” or “ki”. This energy is believed to travel through the body along pathways called “meridians”. The shiatsu therapist aims to unblock the flow of energy, to bring the client’s body back into balance and help the client regain the natural ability to maintain equilibrium or wellness. This relieves symptoms and, as function improves, the client regains a feeling of vitality.
Shiatsu therapy is holistic. Oriental medicine sees the human being as inseparable, one, without divisions between mind, body, and soul. The body-mind is considered a whole construct. Its parts are inseparable from the functioning of the whole organism in its environment. The shiatsu therapist treats the whole body as well as the specific problem areas. Common conditions that shiatsu therapists treat include back, neck and shoulder aches and pains, headaches, insomnia, and digestive problems, but also emotional stress.
From a Western point of view, shiatsu pressure stimulates the healing, conserving functions of the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system to calm the body’s overactive “fight-or-flight” response. This gives the body the space and time to heal itself and restore normal functioning.
The Shiatsu School of Canada Inc