The holistic healing art of shiatsu originated in Japan. The body’s energy is approached via the meridians, the superficial energy channels of the body. Shiatsu could be described as ‘acupuncture without needles’: the shiatsu therapist influences the flow of energy using his or her own hands, through finger pressure, rotations, and stretches of the limbs. Overactive meridians are soothed and exhausted ones are invigorated. Through acupressure, finger pressure to acupoints, individual acupoints can be activated to help address a specific complaint or condition. When a meridian or acupoint needs a bit of an extra boost, techniques such as moxibustion or guasha therapy can be applied (see Auxiliary treatment techniques).
Before starting the actual massage, on the basis of what you have told me and what I have found out, I decide which meridians I am going to address: often I will choose two or three meridians, together with a couple of relevant acupoints and body zones. You will notice that I rarely treat either the top part or the bottom part of the body exclusively: in shiatsu – and Chinese medicine in general – it is important to maintain a proper balance between yīn and yáng. An overabundance of blazing yáng is stilled by a yīn treatment; an overabundance of torpid yīn is stirred up by a yáng treatment. Thus, I aim to facilitate the free flow of energy in the body, by removing blockages and restoring balance. This may help alleviate complaints – whether physical, mental, or emotional; it is a holistic system after all – or simply help you relax and reconnect with your body.