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Zen shiatsu is a dynamic bodywork therapy with a theoretical basis in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Amongst other things, shiatsu is beneficial during pregnancy as well as postnatally and is commonly used to manage stress.

Prudence Irwin is our resident shiatsu therapist at our West End centre, Brisbane.

According to TCM, the body has a network of Qi (energy) pathways running through it, known as meridians. They relate to the organs, and extend through and over the body. Each organ has a specific role in the energetic makeup of the body–mind.

What is shiatsu?

Shiatsu involves applying either nurturing pressure along the meridians to strengthen them or dynamic pressures and stretches to release them from tension. It works by stimulating the circulation of blood and Qi. Shiatsu treats the whole body and any specific areas of concern. A focused practitioner sensitive to the body’s energy distribution can detect disharmony and perform sequences to rebalance the body’s organ system.

Literally translated, shiatsu means ‘finger pressure’. However, in practice, the palms, thumbs, elbows, knees and feet are all used to enhance and stimulate the flow of Qi through the meridians. Shiatsu also incorporates the use of cupping, moxibustion, gua sha, stretching and ginger compresses as applicable.

Shiatsu during pregnancy

Shiatsu during pregnancy is perfectly safe and effective. It nourishes the energy of mum and bub, treats existing conditions, and supports a healthy pregnancy and birthing process.

How it works

Shiatsu improves health by acting directly on the musculoskeletal, circulatory and lymphatic systems. Shiatsu also deals with the autonomic nervous system, which regulates the body and its activities. In Western terms, shiatsu calms the overactive sympathetic nervous systems and promotes the healing restful state of the parasympathetic nervous system. Shiatsu is considered an effective therapeutic treatment in the East and its popularity is growing fast in the West.

Shiatsu works with and strengthens the body’s own healing abilities. It balances the body’s energy system to address physical and psychological functions, and the underlying cause of the condition, to maintain optimum health.

In a single session, you can feel both deeply relaxed and invigorated.

Your shiatsu treatment

We perform Shiatsu on a futon mattress on the floor with bolsters used to support your body as needed. Generally, you will be fully clothed, so you should wear loose, comfortable clothing of natural fibres, including socks. Also, we recommend that you not eat a large meal or drink coffee before your treatment.

Professionally, a Shiatsu therapist should be able to accurately diagnose and understand TCM to determine the best individualised treatment for you. In your private consultation, our Shiatsu therapist, Prudence Irwin, discusses your ailments, concerns and medical history with you, and what you hope to achieve from your session.

With a clear picture of your circumstances, she then begins to rebalance your body’s energy. Because we address all aspects of your life holistically, treatment may also include dietary advice and lifestyle suggestions.

Your mindful and focused practitioner uses natural body weight to apply pressure along the meridians. Shiatsu can be deep and firm or gentle and light, but is always applied with sensitivity. The aim is to rebalance the flow of Qi to address physical and emotional wellbeing. By working along the meridians, we can influence the muscles along its pathway, as well as the physiological, mental and emotional functions of its associated organ.

A Shiatsu session usually includes flowing stretches, sotai (assisted stretching and muscle-release techniques), rocking and gentle joint rotations. These improve joint flexibility, stimulate Qi and the flow of lymphatic fluid, and increase motion range.

How you'll feel

You may experience a deep sense of relaxation and become aware of tensions or reactions in your body. This increased awareness of sensations and feelings is one way for you to gain insight to your needs. By optimising how your body works, this subtle and deep level of treatment promotes an energised and balanced sense of wellbeing, and enables the body to promote self-healing.

Whether you require treatment for an ailment, an injury, stress management, tension or general maintenance, Shiatsu can help relieve symptoms, resolve conditions, build immunity, improve strength and vitality, maintain health and prevent illness.

Contact us to book an appointment, or if you’re not sure which treatment would be best for you, we’re happy to listen to your needs and recommend a good starting point and path forward.