Holistic Health: The Basics of Zen Shiatsu Massage
The massage technique known as Shiatsu, though only now becoming popular, has in fact been in existence for a century. After the Japanese developed it based on thousands of years of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shiatsu was first brought to the United States in the early 1970's, and is fast becoming a force to rival the more traditionally popular Swedish modality. Three schools of Shiatsu were founded: that of Namikoshi (who used Western anatomy and terms to describe the method), that of Serizawa (who did not include much softening or energy work, but stuck to certain "tsubo" points), and that of Masunaga (who gives what we would consider the most holistic and complete view of Shiatsu practice and theory, as we have learned it).
The word Shiatsu comes from the Japanese for "finger pressure", describing the characterizing method of sinking into specific points on the back, neck, and limbs with fingertips, thumbs, or elbows, synchronized with the client's breath. In addition to this point work, done along the energy pathways or "meridians" in the body, Shiatsu also utilizes softening strokes (applying pressure with a soft fist or palm, pressing muscle tissue away from bone), percussion (rhythmic beating, hacking, cupping, pillowing or chopping), assisted stretches, joint mobilization and passive range of motion exercises (where the therapist bears the weight of the client's relaxed limb). No lubrication is needed, as the whole massage is performed on a fully-clothed client, either on the floor or a mat (though adaptations for less mobile clients may be done on a chair or massage table as well).
A Basic Tutorial
In the past there have been skeptics about the benefits of Shiatsu, a more mystic approach to massage, verses those of Swedish, which is based completely on Western medicine. Holistic health practitioners have long maintained that this type of treatment increases one's sense of well-being, balances energy, or "chi" in the body, and helps in the prevention of disease by maintaining the even flow of this chi. However, Shiatsu is quickly becoming widely accepted as a modality that yields wonderful physical results, including increased circulation, decreased pain and tension, increased range of motion, and aid in flushing out of toxins and metabolic waste, as well as the alleviation of such conditions as sinus congestion or chronic headaches.
There is no controversy over the fact that Shiatsu decreases stress levels. Recipients commonly report an intense feeling of relaxation, while at the same time becoming more invigorated and refreshed. In the end, however, the most convincing reason to get a Shiatsu massage is not one of the benefits above, but much simpler: it just plain feels good.
Other Hubs You Might Like
- Holistic Health: The Basics of Swedish Massage
A brief history of Swedish Massage, as well as the basic techniques and associated health benefits.
- The Science Behind Self-Affirmations: Proof of Their Power
While not a magic incantation, and definitely never a substitute for medical treatment, there is nothing more scientific than the process of self-affirmation to positively affect your mental health.
- Spa-At-Home: Facial Mask Recipes
Recipes for my favorite at-home face masks. Each provides unique benefits, but all are quick and easy to blend up at home, with ingredients you use every day.
- Spa-At-Home: Recipes for Puffy Eyes and Dark Circle Remedies
Try these simple, at-home recipes for spa-quality eye treatments. You'll be amazed at, and rejuvanated by, the results.
- Inspirational Quotes on Beauty
When you feel ugly, a few words can be all you need to turn the day around...
- Inspirational and Amusing Quotes on Women
A list of inspirational and amusing quotes about women from a variety of sources.
More by this Author
Avoid tossing and turning (and prevent cricks in the neck!) by using proper pillow placement to align the spine and muscles for optimal relaxation.
Psychoactive drugs can be classed into three main categories: stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens. The effects and withdrawal symptoms of popular drugs from each category can be found below.
Weight Watching is easy with crockpot recipes for Lasagna, Chicken Stroganoff, Beef Stew, and Tortilla Soup!