Shiatsu: The Japanese art of touch

September 2, 2016


When I am asked to explain how shiatsu works, I often start with talking about touch. Touch is powerful. Nothing comforts, enlivens or commands attention like the informed touch of another human being. For all our human advances, social media, high speed communication, we remain starved in the domain of contact, real contact. Chances are you are reading this via an email you received or maybe on Facebook, yet we haven’t met. Shiatsu works by creating a connection between you as the receiver and me as the giver of touch in a supportive space that connects you to your self-healing capacities.


20 years ago when I started working with people who were deaf and blind and had learning disabilities, I began the journey of understanding just how powerful touch I and how it can support and ultimately heal.


Shiatsu has a long history, based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dating back to the 5th century BCE – although massage itself has been part of human existence for as long as we have been here. The idea that our life-force (called ‘Ki’ if you’re Japanese or ‘Qi’ if you’re Chinese) flows in our bodies through specific channels or meridians, forms the foundation for a shiatsu session. It is different to other massage techniques in that it is done through clothing on a mattress on the floor. This allows for a great range of movement, stretching, and dynamic as well as still holding sections. Each session is entirely unique, as you are entirely unique and the support you require is unique.

Central to any people who live close to nature is an understanding of the elements. Shiatsu is grounded in the theory of the 5 elements (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal) and the process of diagnosis and treatment is rooted in a connection to nature that we have so sadly lost for all our technological and other advances. Health follows when the energy is flowing freely and we experience illness or dis-ease when it is not flowing. Shiatsu works to promote the flow of Ki and allows you to really come into a relationship with what is going on in your body/mind and to feel it transform.


September is Shiatsu Awareness Month and every Wednesday I am available at Corinium Acupuncture and Eastern Healing Arts for 30 minute taster sessions (£20). Come and find out if shiatsu with me is the support that you need. I look forward to meeting you.


Danni Heath (MRSS practitioner, Shiatsu Society UK)

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