Like acupuncture, the philosophy underlying Shiatsu is that vital energy (known as Ki in Japan) flows throughout the body in a series of channels called meridians. For many different reasons Ki can stop flowing freely and this then produces symptoms of discomfort and ill health.
Touch, movement, stretches as well as pressure points are used to unblock and balance the body’s Ki (vitality or energy).
As the quality of Ki changes, the symptoms associated with a lack of flow will gradually improve.
“Shiatsu is a Japanese word meaning “finger pressure”. It is a new name for the oldest form of medicine – healing with hands. Everybody has the healing power of touch and responds to touch. It is a natural ability that people are now beginning to recognize again. Shiatsu uses hand pressure and manipulative techniques to adjust the body’s physical structure and its natural inner energies, to help ward off illness, and maintain good health.
Shiatsu is characterized by its great simplicity. It grew from earlier forms of massage, called Anma in Japan (Anmo or Tuina in China) which use rubbing, stroking, squeezing, tapping, pushing, and pulling to influence the muscles and circulatory systems of the body. Shiatsu, by contrast, uses few techniques and to an observer it would appear that little is happening – merely a still, relaxed pressure at various points on the body with the hand or thumb, an easy leaning of the elbows or a simple rotation of a limb. It almost seems a lazy activity and, to the extent that it conserves one’s energy, it is. But underneath the uncomplicated movements much is happening internally to the body’s energy on a subtle level.”
From The Book of Shiatsu by Paul Lundberg