Bring in the new year - Learn Shiatsu's Introduction to shiatsu contains very important pointers that will help you learn the art of Shiatsu effectively; it also presents some important 'do's and don'ts' to consider when giving a Shiatsu treatment.

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Therefore it is strongly recommended that you read it carefully before proceeding to Part One.


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There are three broad ways in which Shiatsu benefits the body's internal energy patterns:
1. removing local blockages to the natural flow of Ki;
2. improving the overall level or quantity of Ki if it is deficient or excessive;
3. restoring the relative balance of Ki between specific places.
Detailed awareness of these patterns only comes with experience and practice, but a regular whole body session using the techniques and quality of treatment set out in Part One will go a long way towards making these improvements. This is because the body has an ability to restore its own internal balances between any two points or zones, simply with the help of basic palming techniques, for instance. However, as you become proficient you will want to tailor your work to the needs of the recipient; some guidelines follow to help you make individual distinctions in your work, and these will also provide a basis for further study and knowledge.
Every person is absolutely unique in their state of being; furthermore, everyone finds themselves in a different state from year to year, day to day and even moment to moment, whether it is slightly or distinctly. So no two Shiatsu treatments need ever be identical, although there has to be a standard format to follow when learning. On top of this, there are many aspects to our condition of health or well-being - not only physical but also of an emotional, psychological and even spiritual nature. Shiatsu, like any other truly holistic therapy, can be helpful in treating all these aspects. In this instance we will mainly go into the treatment of physical and emotional issues, but general purpose Shiatsu will naturally also benefit the majority of people's sense of mental well-being, inner peace and ability to adjust to life's challenges. Where there are very serious disorders, whether mental, emotional or physical, you are strongly advised against giving treatment yourself; instead you should refer the person to a fully qualified Shiatsu practitioner.

There are two stages to adapting your Shiatsu to suit an individual - firstly diagnosis, or working out what the person is experiencing; and secondly, treatment, or addressing what you have discovered. In practice these processes intertwine continuously throughout a session, for as you give Shiatsu you will inevitably be getting information back; but some particular methods of diagnosis can be studied in isolation. At first these techniques will require conscious mental activity on your part, but when you are thoroughly familiar with them they will become second nature, increasingly instinctive and intuitive, thus allowing you to be centred more in the hara, and less in the head.

Actually, diagnosis need not be the clinical activity that it sounds. As human beings, we are naturally interested in how other people are - as most of our conventional forms of greeting show. And we are naturally skilled, too, at judging this for ourselves. We notice when people do not look well, and we are intuitively aware that what we see on the outside reflects what is going on inside, even if it is only that someone is looking a bit pale or washed-out. Oriental diagnosis is really an amplification of this principle, with particular aspects developed into highly sophisticated arts. So, there is facial diagnosis, voice diagnosis, diagnosis by posture, by pulse or even by the condition of the fingernails, to name but a few methods. This is in addition to what we can gather from more conventional observation of outer symptoms, and from what our prospective client can pass on to us from other health practitioners. Last but not least, we will learn by touch and energy sensing, as we actually get on with the treatment - for instance, the sense of Kyo or Jitsu. No-one uses all methods of diagnosis at once; rather, it is usual to make a preliminary assessment using a preferred technique, then verify this with one or two other methods, and decide on treatment accordingly. Noticing an energy imbalance in this way, and treating it before outward symptoms have had a chance to manifest, is clearly an advantage that methods such as Shiatsu offer.


In keeping with the oriental way of doing things, the first thing to look at is the overall picture before going into the detail - and gear the overall quality of the treatment to this. The large, tense, extremely muscular person may not even feel the type of pressure or stretches that could be too much for the light frame of a more delicate or frail person. Looking a little deeper, we can say that a person with an overall more Jitsu condition - energetic, active and with more evident Yang qualities in the body, mind and emotion - will benefit from a more sedating type of treatment. This involves working with pressure that is quick and strong, thus drawing out, releasing and dispersing the excessive Ki quality. Stretching, shaking and squeezing are also helpful local sedation methods, which may sometimes include working against the direction of Ki flow in the meridian. A person who is overall more Kyo, on the other hand - who seems comparatively weak and lacking in vitality - will require more tonifying: working in a slower, gentler way but with longer holding, especially in the direction of flow of the meridians, to support and amplify existing Ki. Applying the principles of Yin and Yang to specific symptoms, we can say broadly that a more Yang condition or illness is characterized by symptoms that are more acute and active and more easily perceived, and is often accompanied by tension, stress or fever; whereas predominantly Yin symptoms are more often hidden in the body or otherwise difficult to detect specifically.

The same principle can be applied at other levels, for instance in different body zones within one person. The upper or lower body, or some parts of the spine, may be comparatively Kyo (seeming weak, lacking in muscle tension, unnaturally soft, cold or with a lifeless quality) or Jitsu (excessive muscle tension, feeling hard, hot) and can be treated accordingly with tonifying or sedation. Jitsu areas by their very nature tend to stand out, attract attention and generally be more obvious.

Individual meridian or Tsubo quality can be distinguished and treated likewise; local pain is a good indicator that there is a Kyo or Jitsu imbalance in that area. When treating meridians that are paired, with one channel in each leg for example, both branches should be treated. One approach often used by professionals is to find the most Kyo and most Jitsu channels and focus particularly on treating them, or even simply focus on tonifying the most Kyo, so that Jitsu naturally balances itself in the process. Sedation of the points can be enhanced if necessary by circular movements of the thumb on the point, and excessively empty points can be toned by holding for ten or fifteen seconds, or even up to several minutes in extreme cases. Strong stretches are inappropriate for an extreme Kyo condition.

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