For many individuals, massage has evolved from a periodic indulgence to a key component of an overall health and fitness regimen. The ability of massage to reduce stress and remedy various physical ailments has convinced many to include a massage therapist on their list of health providers.
But the art of massage takes many forms. Typically, a visit to a spa or an independent massage therapist will include some form of Swedish massage or deep tissue massage. These techniques are designed to invigorate muscles by promoting increased blood flow to specific areas and identifying and relieving particular problems. The application of these types of massage involves long, rhythmic strokes and kneading or circular actions with the hands, palms or fingers. The result is improved circulation, physical relaxation and a reduction in mental stress.
Shiatsu massage is also an extremely effective form of massage but with a somewhat metaphysical rationale to support the technique.
Shiatsu is a Japanese word that means finger pressure. The goal of Shiatsu is to restore the balance of energy in the body. Proponents of Shiatsu and acupuncture believe that disease and physical infirmities are caused by imbalances or blockages in the flow of energy through the body. This energy is called ki which flows through the body along meridians or energy channels. Practitioners strive for a balance between Yin (negative energy) and Yang (positive energy) and attempt to determine where there may be a build up of energy or an energy deficiency. Either will cause problems.
Shiatsu does not use the rubbing and kneading technique of Swedish massage but applies pressure using almost any part of the therapists body including arms, legs, fingers, hands, feet, elbows, toes, etc. The therapist locates a particular point along one of the bodys meridians and applies pressure to that area, attempting to restore balance to the flow of energy. The pressure can be applied gently with the fingers or may be applied forcefully with the point of the elbow depending on the location of the point and the severity of the blockage. The therapist may also incorporate stretching, holding or rotating various parts of the body
The restoration of the proper balance of ki is viewed as a spiritual as well as physical benefit. The balanced flow of energy offers physical comfort and improved health as well as emotional stability and spiritual well being. In fact, it is not uncommon that a recipient of Shiatsu massage may experience an intense emotional response as energy is released from problem areas and restored to proper levels. Crying is not an unusual occurrence and a good Shiatsu massage therapist is fully prepared for, and completely sympathetic to, this type of response.
Shiatsu massage is an extremely relaxing and healing form of massage. It is satisfying to know that besides feeling better, a Shiatsu experience can place us back in balance with the energy flow of the universe.