Five Element Shiatsu is a highly effective form therapeutic bodywork and physical manipulation using a combination of meridian massage and acupressure. It is not only a deeply relaxing experience but also a truly holistic therapy, working on our physical structure and also on an energetic level to stimulate harmony in body, mind and spirit. Regular Shiatsu sessions may help to prevent the build up of stress in our daily lives.
Shiatsu treatment is also very effective as a sports therapy and appeals to martial arts and yoga practitioners as a fundamental part of their training or as a way to increase their understanding of body energetics and mechanics.
Shiatsu is a Japanese word meaning ‘finger pressure’. In practice it combines various manipulative techniques, such as stretching, rocking and holding, with acupressure (which may be applied using thumbs, fingers, palms, forearms, elbows, feet and knees). Shiatsu was traditionally received whilst lying on the floor on a padded mat or futon although many practitioners are now adapting their technique and are working on massage couches.
There are many different styles of Shiatsu, some practitioners will use a system based on the Chinese Classical meridians, others will use an extended Zen meridian system, some will use a combination of pressure points.
Firmly rooted in Taoist philosophy, Five Element Shiatsu views the body as a microcosm of the natural world. By observing the energetic transformation of the elements in nature we can see how nature moves in health and disease within the human body, mind and spirit. The philosophy of Taoism and the Five Elements explores the theory that systems within the body as with cycles of nature will naturally start to rebalance themselves should they move away from a point of equilibrium.
The Five Elements or Five Phases are an ancient Eastern system for understanding the interaction of all phenomena in the universe and how man connects and interacts with the natural world around him in a symbiotic dance through time. Everything in nature is seen as a manifestation of the Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal Elements, including our own bodies and emotions. This elegant system allows us to see the connection between any aspect of life from movement and activity, to our physical and emotional health, and our food and dietary habits.
Five Element Shiatsu utilises these principles to understand the imbalances in a persons health and encourage them back to a harmonious state using bodywork, exercise and dietary advice.
The philosophy underlying Five Element Shiatsu is based on ancient Chinese texts and was first discussed in the Neijing Suwen, written around 2,500 years ago, a Taoist treatise on how to live a harmonious and healthy life. This collection of texts was one of the first to introduce the theories of Qi, Yin and Yang, the Five elements and Eight principles.
In health, Qi flows freely around the body through a network of channels or meridians. For many different reasons Qi can stop flowing freely and this then produces a symptom. A Shiatsu practitioner will consider your state of health, the symptoms you are experiencing, your general energy levels and your constitution, he or she will then use a variety of techniques to improve or balance your energy flow. These may include gentle holding to deep firm pressure, pressing with palms, thumbs, fingers, elbows, knees and feet on the meridians and, when appropriate, more dynamic rotations and stretches and even some gentle manipulation.
As the quality of Qi changes and becomes more harmonious, the symptoms associated with a lack of flow will gradually improve. Shiatsu is a therapy that works on the individual as a complete being – not just the physical body but also on an emotional and/or mental level. It is for this reason that Shiatsu has been found beneficial in the treatment of many problems especially muscular and joint problems including low back pain.
Shiatsu is a method of bodywork or massage which allows us to give and receive care, warmth and healing through non-intrusive touch. is also a very relaxing and uplifting experience which can be enjoyed at any time. Its potential role within society is forever increasing as we become more divorced from direct personal communication and tactile human contact.