Shiatsu massage is a unique healing art of Japanese origin and can be applied to many different conditions, both physical and emotional. This is due to its flexible nature, based on listening to the body in the present moment, through movement and stillness.
It is experienced fully clothed as a whole body massage, and is traditionally performed on a futon, though it can also be experienced on a massage table or chair. It involves palm and finger pressure, rotations, stretches and gentle holding. Shiatsu massage acts to promote relaxation, structural alignment, balance and increased self-awareness. It works on the same pressure points used in acupuncture, and it has sometimes been described as “acupuncture without needles”.
Within this framework, areas of weakness, discomfort or tension are given due attention, so as to promote strength (muscular tonification), flow (flexibility, circulation) and release (breath). Shiatsu can also help explore what might be the underlying causes of these symptoms, from both an Eastern (energetic) and Western (anatomical and physiological) perspective (see Benefits of Shiatsu).
Through its philosophy based on natural cycles (see the Resources section), Shiatsu also implicitly recognises the importance of lifestyle, community and environment in contributing to human wellbeing, and can be a way to help bring these aspects of daily life into awareness and find ways of engaging with them in a more life-enhancing way.