Watsu: It’s Water Shiatsu for Mind/Body Release
You’re in pain and you’ve tried everything you’ve ever heard of. Chiropractic, acupuncture, shiatsu, massage, physical therapy… been there, done that. Well, there’s a relatively new comer on the scene and it’s called Watsu. It combines the effects of shiatsu with the buoyant nature of water for fast relief that is carried out in a pool of water.
It was in 1980 that Harold Dull founded Watsu therapy when he started floating people while applying the stretches and principles of the Zen Shiatsu he had studied in Japan. Stretching therapy is Asia is quite common with the methods of Japanese shiatsu, Chinese tui na and Thai toga massage being methods of elongating muscles to open energy channels to relieve pain.
Warm water has been used for relaxation and physical therapy for years. When warm water and gentle shiatsu stretching are used together, you get the perfect medium to release stress and weight from the vertebrae and allow the spine to be moved gently. Water supported gradual twists and pulls relieve spinal pressure in ways that are not possible when doing similar therapies on a treatment table.
During a Watsu session, a core principle of Zen Shiatsu, that of connecting with and coordinating breath, movement and emotion, also comes into play. In a standard shiatsu treatment done on a table, the patient is asked to breathe out and relax as pressure points are pressed. When done in water the Watsu way, the patient is floated on the practitioner’s arms in what is called the Water Breath Dance. As they are allowed to sink every so slightly, they are asked to breathe out and then breathe in as they are again floated to the top. This is repeated over and over to set a rhythm to the entire treatment, thus adding to relaxation and effect.
Watsu is more than a physical therapy. In fact it is truly a mind/body/emotion therapy wherein the bodywork and breath are used in ways to release emotional baggage. Children with special needs and adults with behavioral issues derive great benefit from Watsu therapy. Experiencing both giving and receiving this most nurturing form of bodywork can help heal whatever wounds of separation we carry and renew in us our sense of connection and oneness with others. For this reason Watsu is Rebonding Therapy. Watsu is used around the world by professional bodyworkers, physical therapists, psychologists, as well as the general public.
The benefits of Watsu therapy are many. It is a form of gentle water-based bodywork that promotes deep relaxation, emotional release and gentle stretching of imbalanced muscle groups. It relaxes the nervous system to allow for stress release, relaxation and better nerve function. From Watsu sessions, one can expect a lowered heart rate and respiration, decreased muscle tension, and an increase in peripheral vasodilation, smooth muscle activity and immune response.
Watsu is one of the newer naturalistic therapies on the scene, but it is derived from practices that have been around for centuries. It combines the best in acupressure, stretching, water therapy and meditation. If you have tried “everything” and not yet found relief for your pain, give Watsu a try. For more information on this therapy and where to find a practitioner visit www.watsu.com.
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Written By: Updated: July 27,2011