Massage: shiatsu, the Japanese “finger pressure” technique
The word shiatsu means “finger pressure” in Japanese. It is a method of holistic healing that is based on applying pressure to key points on the body. Unlike most other forms of bodywork, you remain fully clothed during treatment.
THE ORIGINS OF SHIATSU MASSAGE
Shiatsu was developed in Japan in the early 20th century and has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). A basic idea in TCM is the concept of the life force, known as “chi” in Chinese and “ki” in Japanese. The life force is the fundamental essence or spirit of life. Invisible like the air that we breathe, it is the energy that animates and nourishes all living things. Ki flows through the human body, circulating through the cells, tissues, muscles and internal organs and influencing health and well-being on a physical, mental and emotional level.
YIN AND YANG IN SHIATSU MASSAGE
This energetic life force or ki is recognized having two polar, yet complementary, opposites called yin and yang. Each of these represents different qualities: yin is feminine and passive, yang is masculine and active. The aim of shiatsu is to bring a harmony between the yin and yang energies of the body and its internal organs. This harmony can be disturbed through external trauma such as depression or anxiety. This is when symptoms like aches and pains start to occur and we start to experience a state of “dis-ease”. In shiatsu, physical touch is used to assess the distribution of ki throughout the body and aims to correct any imbalances. This is done by applying pressure to specific points on the body where ki is concentrated, helping to release energy blocks and triggering the self-healing process.
Shiatsu is particularly helpful for stress-related conditions, such as insomnia, tension headaches and digestive upsets, where the gentle, caring touch of another can help the body to relax and unwind. It is also useful for improving the circulation and easing out stiffness in the muscles and joints. This makes it useful for treating conditions such as back pain, arthritis or asthma for instance. However, you do not need to be ill to enjoy the benefits of shiatsu. It works very well as a preventive system of health care; it helps to keep the energy flowing freely in the body and has a balancing effect on the body, mind and spirit.
Source: “The Handbook of Alternative Healing” by Raje Airei and Jessica Houdret