Like Acupuncture and Shiatsu, Acupressure is an ancient form of Asian bodywork that focuses on stimulating reflex points on the skin that correspond to the meridians (“rivers of health”) through which the body’s life energy (Ki or Qi) flows. These points are especially sensitive to bio-electrical impulses in the body and, when triggered by the touch of the therapist’s fingers, they balance the flow of those impulses. As a result, the movement of blood, life energy, and oxygen is balanced in turn; muscles relax; endorphins, the neurochemicals that relieve pain, are released; and healing can occur.
The techniques of acupressure can also play an important role in self-care, as clients can be taught where to apply pressure to address specific issues, such as pain management, , addictions, or PTSD.
Acupressure is a powerful preventative therapy, protecting both body and mind by dissolving tension and stresses that keep the body from functioning smoothly and inhibit the immune system.
When the blood and bio-electrical energy circulate properly, the result is stronger resistance to illness, and a greater sense of harmony, health, and well-being.
The healing art of Shiatsu has ancient roots in Japanese-style massage and in the holistic theory and practice of Chinese Medicine. The Shiatsu therapist combines time-honored Chinese Medicine practices with a powerful system of hands-on massage to activate the inner healing potential of both therapist and client.
Shiatsu can benefit people of all ages and conditions: adults; babies, children and teenagers; elderly persons; pregnant women; and differently-abled people. It can be an effective complement to Western medicine, and a powerful ally in preventative care and stress reduction.
Shiatsu is both preventative and therapeutic. It is designed to support and sustain good health as well as address illness or dysfunction in any of the body’s systems: cardiovascular; dermatological; digestive; eye, ear, nose and throat; genitourinary and gynecological; immune system; mental and emotional; neurological and musculoskeletal; or respiratory.
The power of Shiatsu lies in its capacity to open up the energy channels of the body. The therapist can connect with hundreds of specific points along the body’s meridian pathways to clear obstacles to the flow of the life force known as Ki. The goal of Shiatsu treatment is to free and balance this bioelectric force to promote healing in body and mind.
In each Shiatsu session, the communication between therapist and client determines where and how the therapist will focus attention. The goal is to tailor each session to be of maximum value to the client. This process is fluid, reflecting changing needs and issues as they come up.
The word Shiatsu means finger pressure, but the practice involves touch of many kinds. The therapist uses the thumb and palm, the forearm, elbow, and sometimes the knee to apply pressure; this may range from gentle, supportive touch to very deep pressure, but always without causing pain or injury. Acupressure and passive stretching techniques, as well as yoga-type stretches, may be incorporated. The massage is tailored to the specific needs and concerns of the client in that moment, and may include additional therapies, suggestions for home self-care (such as acupressure points the client may use as needed) and lifestyle recommendations.
In the dance of Shiatsu, the client is a participant, receptive but also active, collaborating in the process of awakening his or her self-healing powers.
Thai Medical Massage, known in Thailand as Nuad Bo’Rarn, is one of the four pillars of traditional Thai healing practice, along with nutritional, herbal, and spiritual components.
Like Acupressure and Shiatsu, Thai massage focuses on the energetic pathways of the body (called Sen), but its techniques include stretching and compression rather than applying pressure to points.
This form of massage ideally produces a profoundly relaxed state, conducive to healing. The clothed client experiences a series of rhythmic compressions over the entire body, while alternately lying on the back, stomach, or side, or sitting upright. The therapist uses palms, thumbs, feet, elbows, and knees to apply this pressure at a very slow and regular pace. A variety of passive stretches, or range of motion techniques, complements the compressions.
Thai massage is sometimes called Thai Yoga massage or lazy man’s yoga because yoga like passive stretches are a major focus of the session.
Together, these techniques, and the deliberately relaxed pace of the massage, promote a meditative state in the practitioner, as well as in the client.