Shiatsu is a form of therapeutic bodywork originating in Japan. It is a safe and effective holistic therapy that supports and strengthens the body’s natural ability to heal and balance itself. Shiatsu treatments can reduce stress in the body, remove tension and contribute to overall physical and emotional wellbeing.
A treatment is conducted without oil through light, comfortable clothing. A typical treatment combines the application of pressure with stretches, joint mobilisation, kneading and simple holding. This kind of touch invites a deep state of relaxation through which healing and transformation become a natural process.
The depth and strength of pressure varies according to the receiver’s condition and body type, the area of the body being worked on, and the nature of the treatment. The Shiatsu touch can vary from being very strong and deep, to a more subtle, light contact, depending on what is needed.
How does Shiatus work?
The underlying principle of Shiatsu is that good health is dependent on the body’s energy, known as ‘Ki’, moving in a free and balanced way. Ki flows in specific pathways called meridians. Shiatsu supports this free flow of Ki throughout the body using simple, informed touch.
Health is present when there is abundant Ki in the meridians and the flow is unobstructed. When imbalance or stagnation occur in the flow of energy, signs and symptoms of illness or dis-ease may arise. The practitioner applies pressure using hand, thumbs, elbows or feet to work along the meridians, thereby bringing energy to areas most in need and dispersing it from where it is congested, stimulating the body’s natural healing power to restore balance and health.
Since Shiatsu is working with the whole person, rather than simply focusing on specific conditions, almost everybody, whether ill or reasonably healthy, and of all ages, from babies to the elderly, can potentially benefit from it.
Shiatsu is extremely useful in enhancing health and vitality and many people use it as part of a stress management or preventative health care programme. Shiatsu is also beneficial if you are feeling unwell or ‘out-of-sorts’ but are not suffering from any specific medical condition. However, shiatsu can be used alongside orthodox medical treatment so if you do have a medical condition for which you may require conventional medical intervention, shiatsu can still offer support to your body.
What's the science behind it?
The science behind the pressure touch of Shiatsu as opposed to gliding/stroking massage is that it acts as a calming or focusing agent to increase activity in the parasympathetic division, and to lower activity in the sympathetic division of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). This has the effect of increasing endorphin levels (pleasure hormones), decreasing heart rate and blood pressure (indicators of anxiety and stress). It also causes the release of both serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These are “happy” neurotransmitters and produce a feeling of calm within our nervous system.
What conditions can it help with?
Shiatsu is used to treat a wide range of chronic and acute conditions:
- lower back, shoulder, neck and joint pain
- stress and associated symptoms
- persistent emotional states such as depression or anxiety
- digestive disorders, IBS, bloating, constipation, heartburn
- fatigue, exhaustion, sleep problems, insomnia
- menstrual issues, irregular periods, PMT
Ongoing chronic illness, palliative care and cancer treatment:
Shiatsu can offer support for people with ongoing or incurable conditions by helping to moderate or manage symptoms. Regular treatment can offer an increased sense of wellbeing as well as boosting pain tolerance levels, helping to deal with symptoms more easily.
For people with or recovering from cancer or undergoing cancer treatment:
Shiatsu can help with pain relief, nausea, shock, anxiety, stress, poor appetite, insomnia and the side-effects of chemotherapy.
Leonie Klein’s experience:
“From my experience working at the Macmillan Cancer Support Centre, the people who come to me for Shiatsu after undergoing cancer treatment in hospital appreciate the positive touch aspect of bodywork. The power and simplicity of touch has been overlooked in the development of modern medicine. Without undervaluing the advances that technology has brought us, this progress has been at the expense of disconnecting us from our bodies.
My clients find relief through the holistic model in which we are not seeking to find and eliminate what is wrong with the body but to support and witness the whole person and to tap into the body’s own healing resources.
My Shiatsu clients report that this approach allows them to begin to assimilate their experience as well as to process and release emotions.
The experience of positive, healing touch invites the recipient to reconnect with parts of the body that feel numb, sore, untrustworthy or unacceptable. Where there is conscious or unconscious emotional holding accompanying the physical trauma, Shiatsu can help the body to heal.
Shiatsu invites us into a deeper experience of connection in the body, helping us to drop into a place of self-trust and wholeness.”
What can I expect from a session?
Shiatsu is traditionally performed on a futon. Clients remain fully clothed and sessions last for one hour. During a typical session, time is spent discussing how you feel in your body, how you’ve been since the last session and what you want from the treatment. The rest of the time is devoted to the Shiatsu itself. Shiatsu sometimes triggers powerful memories or emotions that are held in the body. This is a natural part of the healing process and is always welcomed as such.
What should I wear?
Please wear loose comfortable clothing, preferably cotton or similar.
Can I eat before having Shiatsu?
We recommend that you do not eat a large meal less than 2 hours before a treatment.
How will I feel afterwards?
You may feel energised after a treatment or you may feel really slow and sleepy. If you do feel tired, it’s because your body needs to rest so it can continue to heal. If you can schedule some time to be still and rest up after the session, then your treatment will have maximum benefits.
How much does it cost?
Shiatsu with Leonie Klein costs:
£50 for 60 minutes
£75 for 90 minutes
£95 for 120 minutes
Contact the Alma Vale Centre here
to find out more about Shiatsu