I just can't get enough of the Eastern modalities this summer:
I went for a Shiatsu session today from one of my favorite practitioners, Susan Hare. The session was absolutely lovely. Shiatsu is a traditional form of hands-on therapy from Japan, by way of China. I studied Zen Shiatsu briefly under the patient tutelage of the lovely Sande Mullany and remain curious and fond of it, but I do not use it per se in my own practice (though the three months I spent studying have proven to be instrumental in my work)
In Shiatsu, like in Thai Massage, the client remains clothed and the work is done on a traditional futon mat on the floor. At the beginning of the session, the practitioner reads the 'Hara', or abdomen to assess what work might best benefit the receiver. This is usually just gently placing a hand on the abdomen and 'listening' and observing. Shiatsu systematically works the 12 meridians, or energy pathways (pretty much the same meridians as in acupuncture), and the Hara represents all 12 meridians in a specific arrangement.
In Zen Shiatsu, the treatment, after the Hara assessment, begins on the front of the right leg and then the left, moving down from the upper thigh to the feet, with the intent to 'ground' the receiver (by working the Earth meridians of Stomach and Spleen) The practitioner uses her fingers, thumbs, and palms to press and sink down into the meridians. Then the right arm, followed by the left arm are worked (the Fire - Heart and Sm. Intestine - and Metal meridians of Lung and Lg. Intestine). Finally, the client turns over onto her stomach for work down the back, hips and legs (the Water meridians of Kidney and Bladder). Finally, the client turns over for some work on the neck and head. Mmmmm! Maybe that's the best part. When working the neck and head, a silk cloth is used for the finger-pressing up and down the neck, along the scalp and face. The scarf or towel can even be used for adding a little traction to the head. Ahhh, great stuff!
I highly encourage everyone to experience Shiatsu - sooner than later!