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shiatsu therapy association of australia

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of shiatsu?

Shiatsu is used to maintain and restore health. It is also an effective preventative therapy. People of all ages, including children, can benefit from treatments.  Shiatsu:

  • stimulates circulation
  • strengthens the body
  • promotes relaxation
  • alleviates pain and discomfort
  • supports the body back to its natural balance.

Shiatsu is a total body therapy which effectively assists with a variety of conditions including: asthma and respiratory illnesses, depression, digestive disorders, constipation, irritable bowel, anxiety, pregnancy, menstrual issues, headaches, migraines, sports injuries, back, neck and shoulder pain, RSI, insomnia, fatigue, muscle tension, heart palpitations and stress.

What does a shiatsu session involve?

The client's medical history and presenting issues are discussed - some therapists will use either all or some of the traditional diagnostic methods of tongue, pulse and hara. The subsequent diagnosis is important in guiding the therapist and each shiatsu treatment will be tailored specifically for an individual's current needs.

The treatment usually takes place on a soft futon on the floor but may also be given in a sitting position or on a massage table. The aim of shiatsu is to facilitate the harmonious flow of energy or ki in the body so to promote the health and well being of the mind, body and spirit. Progress and changes are recorded at each subsequent visit and lifestyle recommendations may be made.

Shiatsu combines well with counselling and psychotherapy. It can be used in conjunction with Western medical treatments and modalities to harmonise and strengthen the body. A therapist can explain how shiatsu will benefit particular conditions and will support you to explore how best to maintain your health.

What is a meridian?

According to traditional Eastern theory, energy (ki or qi) circulates in the body along channels called 'meridians'. The unobstructed flow of energy through these meridians is essential to good health.

When the body is under stress, ki blockages occur along the channel causing physical, emotional, mental discomfort or pain. The shiatsu therapist identifies these blockages and designs a treatment to restore the flow of ki and support the body back to its natural balance.

What is ki?

Ki is the basic life force. It is what animates life and is found every where on earth, without it life would not exist. Ki is not static, it is the energy associated with movement, whether it is walking or the movement of blood. In the body, it is a constantly changing flow of energy, which is affected by our moods, stress, illness, injury and lifestyle. It flows in the meridians and affects all aspects of the physical body as well as emotional and mental states. In a healthy body, Ki flows freely but the pressures of everyday life can affect the flow of ki, causing restrictions or blockage in the meridians that may lead to illness and stress.

What are yin and yang?

In nature everything has both and yin and yang quality. These qualities are in a continuous relationship and one cannot exist without the other. Yin is more a more feminine, receptive, nourishing and relaxing energy whilst yang is a more masculine, active, outgoing, consuming energy. Nothing is completely yin or yang, everything is relative. Yin and yang is the basis of Oriental medicine and is used to understand relationships of the body and the external environment.

What are tsubos?

Tsubo is often translated as 'acupoint' or 'acupuncture point'. Tsubo are points on the meridians that can be stimulated in order to relieve pain and balance ki. The character for tsubo originated in China over 3,000 years ago. It literally translates as 'jar'. On the body a tsubo is shaped like a tiny jar or deep pore. The application of pressure to the appropriate tsubo in shiatsu ensures the release of stagnating ki, allowing it to flow through the body.

What is the Five Element Theory?

The five element (or five phase theory) is used by many shiatsu practitioners as a diagnostic tool to understand their clients physically, psychologically and spiritually.

According to the Five Element theory, ki which animates the universe can be subdivided into five different but interconnected phases: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. As symbols of Nature, they relate to the energetic quality of such things as the seasons, colours, flavours and emotions. Each element is associated with two meridians that are yin/yang partners. The elements follow the natural cycles of nature and each element is associated with a different time of day. For example: the fire element relates to the energy of the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak. 

  • Wood Element - The liver and gall bladder meridians are governed by the Wood element and is associated with initiating action and the energy of the morning. It gives the ability to plan, control and assert oneself. The emotion associated with it is anger.

  • Fire Element - The fire element governs two meridian pairs: the heart and small intestine meridian, and the heart protector and the triple heater. This element is associated with the middle of the day when energy is at its peak. It represents our self-identity and celebration. The emotions associated with it are Joy and Love.

  • Earth Element - The spleen and stomach meridians are governed by the Earth element, which is associated with the late afternoon and a waning in activity. It relates to our ability to concentrate and analyse. The emotion associated with it is pensiveness.

  • Metal Element - The lung and large intestine meridians are governed by the Metal element, which is associated with evening and a balance between activity and rest. It enables us to know our boundaries and when it is appropriate to take in and let go. The emotion associated with it is grief.

  • Water Element - The kidney and bladder meridians are governed by the Water element, which is associated with night-time and rest. It provides us with the instinct for survival and procreation. The emotion associated with it is fear but this element is also the source of courage and endurance.

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