Shiatsu is Bodywork That Delivers

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traditional japanese slippers left outside a tatami room for shiatsu massage
PC: Bruno Comtesse

I finally tried shiatsu. It is so much more than I thought it would be. Shiatsu is bodywork that delivers. You experience deep relaxation, yet your body feels so energized. I feel like it also resets your emotional and mental state.

Although I had not tried shiatsu, I had friends who were serious devotées. I was always drawn to its whole body approach that focuses on balancing our energy flow known as chi (Chinese), ki (Japanese), or prana (Sanskit). Basically, our life force.

The word comes from shi (finger in japanese) and atsu (pressure). Developed in Japan with roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the practice involves finger pressure but also hands and sometimes elbows and knees. (Quick sidebar: this is not like Thai Massage, which for me felt too intense!) After I changed into my comfortable pants and top (the traditional loose-fitting Japanese two-piece called a “jinbei), I was escorted into a beautiful wood-paneled room and got comfortable on the tatami mat.

My practitioner was polite, attentive, and applied medium to deep pressure. The focus is on applying pressure to key points along various energy pathways in our bodies. There are twelve pathways (or meridians) linked to different parts of the body (heart, liver, kidneys, spleen, large intestine, etc.) as well as different mental and emotional states (anger, depression, anxiety, etc.)

The result was a feeling of total relaxation and energy renewal. I think that I have always opted for traditional massage (which I still love) because I know what to expect. I want to relax and not take any chances because time is the ultimate commodity, isn’t it?

The question for us all is weighing how we spend our time and energy. Then figuring out which things/experiences deliver on our scale of contentment/feeling good. Shiatsu is off the scales for me. I can’t do it every month but will make time for this.

This modality fits into the increasingly powerful trend of:

Optimal Fitness = Mind + Body. 

The mental and emotional euphoria is right up there with the physical. A good thing.

My experience was at a beautiful little jewel-box of a spa called Suisen in the Marais district of Paris. The space is the definition of less is more. The owner wanted to create a small oasis that is truly authentic. And you feel it. When you pass through the door, you are in a different world with a different energy. There is the classic elegant minimalism that I love about Japanese design. So much attention to detail. From the treatment to the Kukicha tea (a mild green) I had after, it was an incredible experience. Never too late to try new things!

And if you don’t have the time to go to a practitioner, here is a basic “HOW TO” for massaging your pressure points!

Some other helpful links:

Shiatsu Basics

A Guide to the Twelve Major Meridians of the Body



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