Zen Shiatsu, literally meaning “meditative finger pressure” in Japanese, is a massage modality based on principles and ideas derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is believed that Shizuto Masunaga was the first person to integrate elements of shiatsu, Western psychology, and Chinese medicine in the early 1970’s.
Working with a client’s breath, a Zen Shiatsu practitioner uses a variety of techniques such as softening, vibration, finger friction, percussion and point work to trace along the “meridians” or energy pathways described in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The practitioner seeks to realign these pathways and remove any obstacles or barriers that might prevent Qi (pronounced “chi”) from being able to flow freely.
Meridians correspond to various organs in the body and subsequently to the emotions and underlying characteristics those organs are said to manifest in our health. As an example, the Gall Bladder meridian is said to control feelings of frustration or angst and imbalances in this meridian are often believed to cause tension headaches and neck pain. Point work performed along this meridian can improve the flow of Qi and restore balance to the body, thereby relieving the headache and associated frustrations and tension.
Zen Shiatsu is traditionally performed on a thin mat on the floor, although it may be adapted to a massage table or chair. Clients remain clothed and should wear loose fitting garments that do not hinder range of motion or risk exposing themselves.
Zen Shiatsu is believed to restore balance between the Yin and Yang aspects of ourselves. It can reduce stress and calm nerves, enhance circulation and flow of lymphatic fluid, strengthen joints and improve range of motion for clients regardless of age or physical capability. This modality is also ideal for clients who are not necessarily comfortable with getting undressed for a massage, or who may require some additional emotional or palliative care as opposed to significant work on injured or overworked muscles.
Each of the massage therapists at Lake Merritt Massage have received extensive training in Zen Shiatsu and are able to incorporate elements of this popular modality into our bodywork sessions.