Shiatsu Therapy Is The Art Of Finger Pressure

Shiatsu is one of the world's oldest healing therapies. It has become accepted in areas of Western culture. This article outlines the basic elements of this therapy.

Shiatsu is none of the oldest of medical techniques and has a history spanning thousands of years of Oriental history. This technique was introduced into Japan from China about 1,500 years ago.

The word " Shiatsu" essentially means " finger pressure" in Japanese. The technique uses the fingers in applying pressure on the body to cause or stimulate a healing response. It is basically a form of deep massage.

This technique is one of many alternative medical practices that are becoming increasingly popular in the West. These healing therapies and medicines are also gradually being integrated into Western orthodox medical practice and, in some cases, are changing Western Medicine.

How does it work?

Using finger pressure, the Shiatsu practitioner seeks out the meridians or energy points in the body. In certain varieties of Shiatsu the practitioner also uses the hands, elbows, thumbs, knees and forearms.

The basic method of this technique is to facilitate the flow of natural energy or " chi" through lines of energy, also known as meridians, and bring about health. Like many other alternative therapies, Shiatsu is based on the belief that harmony and balance within the body is essential for good health and the eradication of illness. In Western terms, Shiatsu works by triggering the release of endorphins- the body's natural painkillers. This process allows many healing events to take place within the body- including a reduction of blood pressure, breaking down of muscle spasms, increasing the blood flow and stimulating the lymphatic drainage system.

A holistic approach is important in most styles of Shiatsu. This means that the entire human being and the harmony of the body and mind are considered in the diagnosis.

The massage centers on the stimulation of the meridians which are electromagnetic channels in the body. Within these channels are vortices or centers of high electrical energy called "tsubos". By causing the flow of energy to be stimulated at these centers or vortices, the therapist encourages the flow of natural energy. The Therapist may also work with a combination of pressure points, meridian and body-area stimulation. The healthy flow of energy may also be stimulated by exercises such as stretching. The essential point in the technique of Shiatsu is to encourage self-healing in the body, and also to re-balance the body and reduce physical and mental tension.

There are a number of styles of Shiatsu found in the West. Some of these styles are: barefoot Shiatsu, Macrobiotic Shiatsu, and Zen shiatsu.

There are many differences in these styles in terms of the approach to the treatment of illness. For example, the Zen style is the most holistic and attempts to treat the patient in both a physical and a spiritual sense. There is a considerable amount of spirituality in the balancing of bodily Chi or energy, whereas other styles focus purely on the mechanical process of treatment.

A consultation

A Shiatsu therapist works in a very different way to the conventional Western doctor.

The therapist " reads" the state of health of the patient by a close observation of their appearance, the condition of their hair and even the tone of the skin. Even the way in which the patient walks and talks is taking into account when making a diagnosis. All of this information is used in conjunction with that which is obtained through the actual bodywork.

The patient would normally remain fully clothed during a Shiatsu session. The therapist works on the floor with the client on a futon. The process of diagnosis is always ongoing, with the therapist continually reviewing his assessment of the patient.

Once the therapist has come to an understanding of the patient's state of energy, the treatment begins. Medians are massaged using a variety of techniques. There are also other exercises used and there is a marked similarity here with Western physiotherapy. The Shiatsu practitioner will also attempt to transmit healing energy to the patient and to encourage the patient to develop his or her own capacities of self-healing. A session usually ends with a short period of recovery as Shiatsu therapy can be demanding for both the patient and the therapist.

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