Going with the flow in Zen Shiatsu
Zen shiatsu is based on the principle of flow.
There is permission and allowance for flow, rather than forcing a change to occur.
Like a river running over rocks and stones, and parts of trees and plants, there are times when the flow can get stuck, causing parts of the river to run dry.
The practitioner brings attention to the places where the flow is stuck (called jitsu in Japanese) and where the flow is diminished (called kyo in Japanese). By allowing the qi, or life force, to flow evenly, the body returns to greater balance and health.
The practitioner is also an observer, offering the body feedback about the areas where the qi is stuck/jitsu or lacking/kyo. This feedback supports the intrinsic intelligence of the body, allowing it to be in greater harmony with Nature, its natural inclination. Nature, in its infinite wisdom and intelligence, knows how to heal and imbue wholeness to all of creation. When the body forgets, due to illness, the practitioner helps the body remember.
Flow is natural, the sacred spiral of continual movement, dancing and moving to the heartbeat of Nature. Health is allowing ourselves to go with the flow and be carried by the Ocean. Zen shiatsu is a natural way to restore and maintain health.
What is Zen shiatsu?
Zen shiatsu is a style of bodywork from Japan. It’s similar to Thai & Breema bodywork in that it involves stretching and rhythm. But it also has strong aspects of Zen, in that there is meant to be an effortlessness to it, a flow that is natural. Zen shiatsu incorporates the work of Masunaga’s mappings of diagnostic areas (located on the abdomen/hara and back), with the meridians and their extensions. Much like pulse diagnosis in TCM, a diagnosis is made in Zen shiatsu based on palpating those diagnostic areas. The work can be gentle or quite deep.
Waturo Ohashi is one of the masters of this method of healing. He actually trained with Masunaga in Japan before moving to New York City. Ohashi has been practicing in New York City since 1974. He teaches and has schools all over the world. Many of the people he works on are dancers and athletes, who want to feel more limber and healthy, and need to be able to recover quickly if injured. While being a yogi is not a prerequisite to receiving this form of bodywork, people who are wanting greater flexibility, or who are trying to resolve muscular/skeletal issues, will appreciate what this work has to offer.
Zen shiatsu aims to minimize skin-to-skin contact in order to encourage more parasympathetic dominance within the entire nervous system. (Parasympathetic dominance helps the body rest, repair, and rejuvenate.) The digestive, circulatory, lymphatic, reproductive, nervous, and solar systems (kidding on the last one?) start to balance themselves out. Dis-ease starts to ease out. Similar to Thai massage, the client is clothed in comfortable clothing, ideally made of natural fabrics.
More about Zen shiatsu
There are stretches for each of the meridian pairs that diagnose and treat imbalances. Doing the stretches regularly is a way to gauge the changes the body makes as it becomes more balanced. The stretches are a nice way to bring greater awareness to how the energy is flowing in the body, and to encourage softening in those places where the energy may be stuck.