The extraordinary experience of Shiatsu massage
Shiatsu is much more than an ordinary massage, it is an extraordinary and unique experience, differing from other more commonly known massages. It‘s roots date back to mysterious and ancient times. The exact date of emergence is unknown, but there is evidence of it’s extensive journey into the Shiatsu we know and love.
A brief history on Shiatsu
As said above, Shiatsu has mysterious roots. Understanding them (or, at least, trying to) is essential since the technique is still being used today to relieve pain of those seeking treatments for a better quality of life.
Some say Shiatsu first emerged in China around 5000 years ago, originating from Taoist Priests’ practice of both meditation and forms of manipulation of the body. This knowledge and expertise was then brought to Japan where it was reborn under a new name: the Anma technique. However, it was not until the 20th Century that the practice fully formed into the Shiatsu technique practiced today. More specifically, it was in 1940 when Tokujiro Namikoshi founded the first Shiatsu School, which is presently recognized worldwide as the Japanese Shiatsu College. But perhaps the most important date in the history of the technique was not until 1957, when the Japanese Government officially recognized Shiatsu as an alternative healing technique.
What does Shiatsu mean? And what exactly is it?
Shiatsu is a japanese word which literally translates to “finger pressure”. It is by a specific form of finger pressure, that Shiatsu aims to re-balance the flowing energy inside the body, very similar to acupuncture. The idea behind Shiatsu, as per acupuncture, is that health issues may be caused by a block of energy throughout the body. Shiatsu aims to relieve any of these blocks and allow the energy flow within the body to improve.
In line with the asian beliefs of the Yin and Yan energies (positive and negative energies), running through our body, Shiatsu aims to find the specific points on the body where there is either an excess or a deficiency of energy. Once located, it is by imposing pressure on the points that the energy can be released. The pressure on the point can be done with all parts of the body, such as fingers, toes, feet, elbows and even legs.
The points pressed during the Shiatsu experience are connected to what are known as Chinese Meridians: specific channels running throughout our bodies, carrying the vital energy “Qi”. The ancient Chinese believed (and still do) that if the flow of the Qi stays open and balanced, then the person can achieve the so wanted well-being.
Shiatsu today: what to expect
Today, Shiatsu is considered one of the leading massage techniques around the world and one of the most effective. Shiatsu evolved at the start of the 20th Century and today is available in a wide range of different styles: from the traditional Japanese Shiatsu, to the Five Element, the Zen and Macrobiotic ones. Whichever style you pick, from the most gentle to the most intense, there are two main things to expect when going for a Shiatsu massage experience: first, there will not be a classic massage bed waiting for you, instead you will find a Tatami mat, a Japanese mat used as flooring material in traditional Japanese spaces. You are positioned on the floor instead of the usual table because the practitioner needs to apply a certain amount of strength on tiny specific points on our bodies, he therefore needs space to make the right movements. The second thing to expect is that since Shiatsu doesn’t involve the use of oils, the patient can attend the experience fully clothed. This is good news for those who are more modest as well as for people who may be allergic to or simply do not enjoy the feeling of oil on their skin.