Shiatsu is a traditional Japanese healing art, the origins of which go back thousands of years. Literally translated SHIATSU means ‘finger pressure’. It is often used to rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit; promoting relaxation and stimulating a person’s own healing power by harmonising their vital energy called Ki or Ch’i. This vital energy travels through the body along pathways called meridians, which fundamentally are the same as those used in ‘Acupuncture’.
Each meridian corresponds to one of twelve organs or functions such as the heart, spleen and lungs. Although named after the organs, the functions of the meridians are much wider and encompass the whole being at the mental, emotional and physical level. Wherever there is a block in energy flow, trauma ensues which eventually manifests as disease. This imbalance in a person’s vital energy may manifest itself as a backache, headache, depression or in many other ways.
By working along the meridians using fingers and hands, the practitioner summons energy to places most in need and disperses energy from areas where it is congested thus restoring balance to the whole body. There is a wide range of therapeutic methods used; from subtle and supportive contact to the more dynamic pressure and stretching techniques, which in conjunction with patterned breathing helps re-establish proper balance and flow in the persons vital energy.
Physically this has the effect of stimulating the circulation and flow of blood and lymphatic fluids. By working on both divisions of the autonomic nervous system, Shiatsu helps release toxins and deep-seated tensions from the muscles and aids in stimulating the hormonal system. On a more subtle level Shiatsu allows the receiver to relax deeply and connect with the body’s own healing abilities. It promotes a feeling of calmness and well being. On this level Shiatsu helps to maintain one’s health, vitality and stamina thereby preventing the onset of disease. Shiatsu can help in a wide range of complaints including pre-menstrual tension, backache, aching muscles and joints or injuries to them and other stress related conditions.
For some people regular Shiatsu sessions are a way of supporting or stimulating life changes. Others come with a wide variety of chronic or acute health problems often after failing to get relief from conventional methods. Shiatsu is an excellent way of strengthening the immune system and regular sessions bring about a general improvement in vitality. Most people find the sessions relaxing and enjoyable to receive.
Each session is different according to the needs and capability of the client. For example, some people need strong stretches and deep work on the meridians to help them relax and disperse blocked energy, whereas others may need very gentle and supportive work. Normally the session will take place with the client lying or sitting on a padded mat on the floor, although a chair can be used when necessary.
During a session the client remains fully clothed. Changing facilities are available if required.
The initial consultation takes about two hours and is very important. It takes into account medical history, sleep patterns, diet etc., and the client’s present condition. This information is essential in determining the energetic cause of the problem and the treatment that is required. It also enables Altair to introduce, where relevant, a system of self-healing exercises to accelerate the recovery process. Subsequent sessions take an hour. After an initial discussion of the client’s condition the treatment begins.
Clients generally come to realise that they possess the full power to be healthy and happy. It becomes a matter of choice and of personal commitment, since without their co-operation no recovery in the real sense of the word can happen. The relationship between the client and practitioner becomes one of guidance and support; the client learns how to be independent and self-reliant and how to maintain a state of well being throughout one’s life.
In order to gain maximum benefit from the Shiatsu treatment the following guidelines are suggested:
It is best to avoid heavy meals or alcohol on the day of treatment. Have a light meal at least one hour before the session.
Do not take a long hot bath on the day of treatment.
For the treatment wear loose clothing, preferably cotton, such as a tracksuit.
Response to treatment
Every individual is unique, so the response to the treatment varies from person to person. The age of the patient, depth of the disease, and how long it has been going on have to be taken into account in assessing how quickly the client will improve.
Often clients ask how many sessions they will require. It is impossible to generalise, as even two people with similar complaints may need to come for different periods of time.
In acute conditions the client is advised to attend weekly. When their condition stabilises they can come fortnightly, monthly and so on. The whole process is individual and the practitioner and client can together decide on the best course of action.
What are your professional standards?
For 27 years (since 1988) I have been a member of the British Acupuncture Council. Members must have passed exams in Western Medical Science to a standard where problems best dealt with, by or in conjunction with a doctor will be recognised. I am bound by the Society’s Code of Ethics, which covers relations with patients, fellow practitioners and the general public.
I was a member of the SHIATSU SOCIETY for 27 years, until 2014. I am covered by insurance for Shiatsu, and have chosen to become an independent Shiatsu practitioner
“When I first met Altair about 8 months ago I was suffering from severe back pain which concerned me, as I had great difficulty walking. I was also going through a stressful period with my business. Within 3 Shiatsu treatments I began to feel better and I have not had a problem with my back since. I now find myself looking forward to my monthly massage which leaves me relaxed and refreshed.”
John Painter, Managing Partner, Accountancy firm, Worcester
“I regularly visit Altair for Shiatsu massage to work out tension accumulated from my job as a cameraman. I find it hard to relax and a regular session helps both my body and mind. I’ve seen Altair for both Acupuncture and Shiatsu and his vast knowledge is invaluable when choosing the right treatment to suit your specific need. I would highly recommend Altair as an experienced skilled practitioner and as a really genuine guy.”
Chris Hollier, BBC/ITV/SKY Independent Sports Cameraman
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