In oriental medicine the nourishing,
cooling moistening, relaxing functions are yin, the active, heat producing,
energetic aspects are yang. Where there is too much yin is coldness, dampness
and symptoms such as tiredness chilliness and poor circulation. Too much
yang is over activity and heat, symptoms such as insomnia, dry mouth. The yin
meridians run up the front of the body and the yang meridians run down the back
of the body.
There are only two main techniques used pressure and
stretching, pressure is applied in several different ways either from the hands,
thumbs, fingers, elbows, knees, or feet.
To give a correct massage you use your body weight to apply
pressure controlled by the
hara the center of energy. When
a limb is stretched the meridians are more accessible so less pressure is
needed. A meridian out of balance is either kyo-flow obstructed or jitsu-in
excess, when you press on a kyo meridian you are supplying energy and this
usually feels good, jutsu areas are often tense and painful.
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A doctor of oriental medicine uses
the 5 elements of fire, earth, metal,
water ,wood in the diagnosis
each element is associated with a colour, taste season, smell, emotion and body
part. The doctor looks for colours in the face, the emotional state of the
patient, what weather makes the condition worse in this way he sees beyond the
symptoms to the cause.
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A number of auras, or energy layers, surround the physical body that
can be detected or appreciated. The first layer, the etheric body, is
the most dense and is connected with the body and the way it works.
The astral body is much wider, is affected by people's feelings and,
if viewed by a clairvoyant or psychic, is said to change in color and
shape depending on the feelings being experienced. The next aura is
the mental body, which is involved with the thought processes and
intelligence of a person. This can be viewed by a clairvoyant and is
said to contain 'pictures' of ideas emanating from the person. (The
aura can be photographed using Kirlian Photography technique.)
first three auras comprise the personality of a person. The last aura
is known as the causal body, soul or higher self. This is concerned
more with perceptive feelings and comprehension. People who believe in
reincarnation suggest that the first three auras die with the body,
but the causal body carries on in its process of development by
adopting another personality. As a person grows in maturity and
awareness, these different auras are used, and energy is passed from
one layer to another. Thus, any alteration in the physical state will
affect the other layers, and vice versa.
Zang and fu organs
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storage and production
According to traditional oriental therapies, organs have two
functions. One is the physical one. The other function is concerned
with the use of energy and is sometimes called an 'energetic
function'. The twelve organs mentioned in the traditional therapies
are split into two groups known as zang and fu.
organs store energy. The fu organs produce energy and control the
removal of waste matter. The organs can be listed in pairs, each zang
matched by a fu with a similar function. Although the pancreas is not
specifically mentioned, it is usually included with the spleen. The
same applies to the 'triple heater' or 'triple burner', which is
connected with the solar plexus, lower abdomen and the thorax.
The lungs are a zang organ
and are concerned with assimilation of energy from the air. It affects
the mental alertness and positive attitude. This is paired with the fu
organ of the large intestine, which takes sustenance from the small
intestine, absorbs necessary liquids and excretes waste material via
the feces. It is also concerned with self-confidence.
The spleen is a zang organ
and changes the food into energy that is needed by the body. It is
concerned with the mental functions of concentration, thinking and
analyzing. This is paired with the fu organ of the stomach, which
prepares food so that nutrients can be extracted and also any energy,
or ki, can be taken. It also provides 'food for thought'.
The zang organ of the heart
assists blood formation from ki and controls the flow of blood and the
blood vessels. It is where the mind is housed and therefore affects
awareness, belief, long-term memory and feelings. This is paired with
the fu organ of the small intestine, which divides food into necessary
and unnecessary parts, the latter passing to the large intestine. It
is also concerned with the making of decisions.
The kidneys are a zang
organ and they produce basic energy, or ki, for the other five paired
organs and also for reproduction, birth, development and maturity.
They sustain the skeleton and brain and provide willpower and 'get up
and go'. Kidneys are paired with the fu organ of the bladder, which
stores waste fluids until they are passed as urine. Bladder also gives
strength or courage.
The zang organ of the
'heart governor' is concerned with the flow of blood throughout the
body. It is a protector and help for the heart and has a bearing on
relationships with other. This is paired with the 'triple heater' or
'burner', which passes ki around the body and allows an emotional
exchange with others.
The liver is a zang organ
that assists with a regular flow of ki to achieve the most favorable
physiological effects and emotional calmness. Positive feelings, humor,
planning and creativity are also connected with it. It is paired with
the fu organ the gall bladder. This keeps bile from the liver and
passes it to the intestines. It concerns decision-making and forward
Kyo and Jitsu energy
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Oriental medicine proposes that energy is the basis for all life,
and it is divided into two types known as kyo and jitsu. If the energy
is low or deficient, it is known as kyo, and if there is an excess or
the energy is high, it is known as jitsu.
These two factors will affect the type of shiatsu that is given.
Experienced shiatsu practitioners can determine with touch what type a
person the recipient is. The practice of shiatsu is altered depending
on the energy level of the recipient.
For kyo types (low or deficient in energy), a gentle and sensitive
touch is required, and any stretched positions can be maintained for a
longer time as this will bring more energy to that part of the body.
Pressure, held by the thumb or palm, can also be maintained for an
increased length of time, approximately 10- 15 seconds.
For jitsu types (high or excess energy), the stretches can be done
quite quickly so that the energy is dispersed, and also shaking or
rocking areas of the body can have the same effect. The pressure that
is exerted by the thumbs or palms should also be held for a shorter
length of time, so that excess energy is dispelled.
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The Orientals believed that energy circulated and nourished the whole
person through specific pathways, or meridians as they are usually
called. In Indian medicine, this is called a nadi or river. Meridians
form a crisscross network of interconnected pathways that link the
organs, skin, flesh, muscle and bones in a unified body. (This may be
compared to the Interstate highway network in the United States.) The
qi that circulates within them may be more Yang in nature, defending
the body on the outside, or more Yin in nature, nourishing the body on
the inside. These channels run from deep in the organs out through
major meridian branches to smaller and smaller ones, ending up at the
outside of the body in the skin; then they go back again, just like
the pattern of other major body systems such as the nervous and blood
the twelve organs is linked with a meridian or channel of energy,
named according to the internal organ it affects. The meridians, like
rivers of energy, ensure proper nurturing of qi or life force
throughout your whole being. When you are healthy, the flow of qi
proceeds unimpeded, like the water in a free-running river, and energy
is well distributed throughout the meridian pathways. When the river,
or meridian, is blocked for some reason, the qi is prevented from
reaching the specific area it is supposed to nurture. The result is
that the cells, tissue or organs in the affected area will suffer.
Meridians are numbered from 1-12 according to the flow of energy
All meridians start or finish in the head, chest, hands or feet.
Lung - Starts on chest in front of shoulder, finishes in thumb
Large Intestine - Starts in index finger, finishes at side of nostril
Stomach - Starts under eye, finishes in second toe
Spleen - Starts in big toe, finishes at side of chest
Heart - Starts under armpit, finishes in little finger
Small Intestine - Starts in little finger, finishes in front of ear
Urinary Bladder - Starts at inside corner of eye, finishes in little
Kidney - Starts on sole of foot, finishes at top of chest
Heart Constrictor - Starts beside nipple, finishes in middle finger
Triple Heater - Starts in fourth finger, finishes by outside corner of
Gall Bladder - Starts at outside corner of eye, finishes in fourth toe
Liver - Starts in big toe, finishes on front of chest or below nipple.
the meridians serve the whole body from outside in and inside out,
they have a dual role. They prevent harmful energies from entering (in
the form of bacteria and viruses) the body. They also indicate the
presence of harmful energy already inside the body in the form of
symptoms on the outside. (See the description of aura later.) These
may be felt as aches, pains, heat or cold, and in Shiatsu may be
located as areas of particular sensitivity or tenderness.
Any type of "disease" is a sign that the energy within the meridian
system is out of balance. When a meridian is blocked, one part of the
body is getting too much qi and enters a state of excess, while
another part is getting too little and becomes deficient in qi. This
will result in one organ becoming overactive while another organ will
become underactive and may be fatigued. If you do not correct this
problem problem when initially manifested, it can lead to the symptoms
getting progressively worse and your disease gets more serious.
Finding these areas is one of the aims of Shiatsu diagnosis and
treatment, since their quality and location can tell us a great deal
about the origin, location and depth of an imbalance in the entire
energy system, which will result in a given disease. The unique nature
of the meridians is to reflect this kind of imbalance and then to act
as the channel by which the imbalance can be corrected.
Along the meridians you will find more highly charged energy points,
which are called pressure points in English or tsubo in Japanese. This
is where the qi is most easily affected. Stimulating different tsubo
will correct the energy imbalance. In the case of Shiatsu, the
affected meridian or points are worked on directly until proper energy
flow is restored. By using different shiatsu techniques, such as
pressure, stretching, rubbing and corrective exercises, you will be
able to release the blockages, "open" the meridian and recharge
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Shiatsu acts on the subtle anatomy of the body described as qi in
Chinese or ki in Japanese. Qi is a fundamental concept of the
traditional oriental medicine and is considered as our "life essence"
which maintains and nurtures our physical body , mind and spirit. In
traditional Indian medicine it is described as prana. Qi is
everywhere. It moves and changes quickly from moment to moment and can
easily be replenished on a day-to-day basis. The human body is a field
of continually moving energy, circulating through cells, tissues,
muscles and internal organs.
The Chinese word qi translates as "breaths". A Japanese dictionary
defines qi as mind, spirit, or heart. Japanese vocabulary has hundreds
of expressions which use the word qi, most of them ordinary ways of
talking about human moods, attitudes, or character. Qi is often
characterized as energy.
Within the organ and meridian systems, energy is constantly being
exchanged. The energy circulates to fill areas where it is lacking (Kyo)
and drain off areas where it is excessive (jitsu). The entire system
is designed to be self regulating. Most energy imbalances correct
themselves without effort. Treatment is only required for stubborn and
persistent blockage or lack of energy in a certain area, which is
where Shiatsu and related disciplines come in.
There are a variety of exercises you can do to experience qi and feel
its effect on your body. Qi is a real force, made up of electric,
magnetic, infrasonic and infra-red vibrations, which can be
intuitively perceived and mentally directed. It can be photographed
using Kirilian photography. Like air that we depend on for our life,
qi is the very source of our vitality. It is the force within us which
gives us initiative, which drives and inspires us to move forward in
life. When the qi leaves us, we die. According to the ancient
philosophers, life and death is nothing but an aggravation and
dispersal of qi. "Qi produces the human body just as water becomes
ice. As water freezes into ice, so qi coagulates to form the human
body. When ice melts, it becomes water. When a person dies, he or she
becomes spirit (shen) again. It is called spirit, just as melted ice
changes its name to water."
It is possible for a person to 'feel' ki. It is also possible with
training for a person to experience another person's aura or ki. It is
described as a feeling of tingling or warmth. To experience the aura,
your mind must be clear of other thoughts. Relaxation exercise may be
employed to prepare you to experience the aura.
It is also possible for a person, by concentrating his or her thoughts
and by a slight change of position, to alter the flow of ki in the
body. This will have the effect of either making the person feel a lot
heavier or lighter, depending on which is desired.
After Shiatsu Treatment
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The immediate effect of treatments differs with each individual. A
sense of well-being is common.
Because of the deep relaxation that usually occurs and the stimulus to
the major body systems, you may have some healing reactions. Some
people feel cold or flu-like symptoms, aches and pains, or headaches
after the first treatment. These symptoms will only last for a day or
so and usually subside with each subsequent treatment. If these
symptoms persist, please consult a qualified physician immediately. In
general, any such effects you may experience are positive signs from
your body telling you it is making an attempt to correct its own
condition in a natural way. These are signs of elimination and the
beginning of the healing process.
The following are some unpleasant side reactions some people get after
a shiatsu treatment and the causes of the same.
Coughing and generation of mucus or symptoms of a cold: The coughing
and production of mucus is due to the body being encouraged to rid
itself of its surplus foods (such as sugars and fats) in this form. A
cold can sometimes develop when the mucus is produced, usually when
the cells of the body are not healthy.
A feeling of tiredness: Tiredness can occur, frequently with a person
who suffers from nervous tension. After therapy has removed this
stress or tension, then the body's need for sleep and rest becomes
A headache or other pains and aches: There are two main reasons for
these, which should only last a short time. Shiatsu redresses the
balance of ki in the body. Thus, blockages in the flow of energy are
released and the ki can rush around the body, causing a temporary
imbalance in one part and resulting in an ache or pain. It is also
possible that too much time or pressure may have been applied to a
particular area. The amount needed varies considerably from one person
to another. If the pain or headache persists after a few days, obtain
qualified medical help.
Feeling emotional: Emotional feelings can occur while the energy is
being stimulated to flow and balance is regained. The feelings may be
connected with something from the past that has been suppressed and
so, when these emotions resurface, it is best for them to be expressed
in a way that is beneficial, such as crying.
Learn Shiatsu Courses
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College is made up of eight Regional Branches.
most other Shiatsu schools were founded by one principal teacher, the
Shiatsu College is unique in having been conceived as a collaborative
effort between several teachers, each contributing an individual style
and approach, but having a vision and aims in common.
Shiatsu Society U.K
several forms of Shiatsu and the Shiatsu Society is a non-profit
organisation which represents all styles and the majority of Shiatsu
practitioners, schools and students in the UK - promoting their work
Shiatsu Council Links
was formed in 2001 to create a unified regulatory body for shiatsu.
The following professional bodies and schools are involved in this
Shiatsu Council Tel +(44) (0) 1780 410072
Glebe Cottage, Holywell Road, Castle Bytham, Grantham, NG33 4SL