What is Shiatsu?
Shiatsu is a Japanese form of therapeutic bodywork, meaning "finger pressure". A Shiatsu practitioner will use their hands, elbows, and sometimes knees and feet to press, knead, soothe, tap, and stretch the body along the Qi meridians. One of the fundamental concepts of Chinese/Japanese medicine is Qi (pronounced "chee"). This is the vital energy in our body that governs all the functions of the body and mind. When the client's energy is low or deficient, the practitioner uses specific techniques to enhance and vitalize the Qi. When the client is over-stressed, wound-up, or anxious, the practitioner employs techniques to disperse the "excess" energy. In this way, the Qi is regulated. Shiatsu works to alleviate conditions, restore balance, and promote health.
Shiatsu is typically done on a padded mat on the floor, or on a low table. This is so the practitioner can use their own body weight for pressure. No lotion is used, as the client remains fully clothed in relaxed, loose fitting clothing. The practitioner may ask to see the clients tongue and 'listen' to their wrist pulses with their fingers. These are two ways to assess the Qi.
I prefer to practice Shiatsu on a low table, using Bodysupport Cushions for face down and side lying positions. These are the same cushions I use with my prenatal clients, or any client who prefers not to lie fully flat, or prefers lying on their side. Because clients stay fully clothed, Shiatsu can be a great option for people with sensitive skin or skin disorders, who have high blood pressure or edema and can't have gliding massage, or for anyone who prefers to stay clothed for any reason.