..The Intuitive Times
Complementary Therapies


Introduction to Shiatsu

By Sharon MacNulty

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Shiatsu is a Japanese healing art meaning "finger pressure". It aims to bring balance within the body by applying pressure to specific points on the body using mostly the thumbs but also the palms, elbows or knees. A Shiatsu session takes place on a mat on the floor, so that both giver and receiver are grounded and centered. The recipient wears comfortable clothing in which they can easily move.

The Shiatsu practitioner incorporates actions such as stretches and rotations, as well as pressing acupressure points. During a treatment there is a combination of movements in the form of physical manipulation along with moments of stillness while points are held. Shiatsu is therefore an active as well as meditative experience for the receiver.

People generally are deeply relaxed after a session and leave feeling lighter and more balanced.

Shiatsu has its origins in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is an ancient holistic healing system. The Chinese believe that our health depends on the balance of Qi, or "Life Energy" within the body. If this energy becomes blocked we are subject to illness, and over time more severe health conditions develop.

To maintain health, Qi, (Ki in Japanese) must flow unimpeded like rivers through the body. These rivers of energy are called Meridians and flow throughout the body, weaving deeply in and out of our organs then rising to the surface of the skin. The superficial areas where Qi comes closest to the skin are called "Tsubos". These are the locations of the acupressure points, where the points will be pressed and held.

Pressure is applied gently but deeply so as to affect the flow of Qi of particular Meridians. A point can be held for a few seconds, released, and then held again until feelings of tension and pain dissipates. All the while, the Shiatsu practitioner will be attuning to the Qi in the client's body to ‘see' what its qualities are. In this sense, the practitioner is always ‘reading' the energy and taking note of areas that need more attention. As meditative awareness and touch diagnosis are like tools used during a session, each session can be nurturing and helpful to re-center the client.

Shiatsu is beneficial for such conditions as fatigue, stress, muscular tension, anxiety, backache, digestive disturbances and menstrual problems, among others. By harmonizing body, mind and spirit, it rejuvenates and helps to increase energy levels, improving one's overall sense of well-being.

Sharon McNulty is a Certified Shiatsu Practitioner in Charlottetown, PEI at 569-5803.

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