We all know that a massage is relaxing. We use it as a form of rest and relaxation, but massage has a lot of health benefits that not everyone is aware of. Shiatsu massage is a Japanese modality that literally means “finger pressure”.
Shiatsu can actually be used in the treatment of a wide variety of conditions, including mood disorders, insomnia, digestive issues, it may reduce muscle and joint pain, as well as lasting health benefits.
Kumiko Kanayama has been a Shiatsu practitioner ever since she started learning the practice from her uncle and now helps people reach a higher level of wellbeing).
You can learn more about Kumiko and her work here:
Tell me about your professional background.
I am a practitioner and teacher of Intuitive Shiatsu™. Intuitive Shiatsu™ is a method I developed after many years of study with my uncle, Ohashi, a pioneer of shiatsu in the West. After many years of teaching as a Certified Ohashiatsu® Instructor, I set out on my own to pursue my discoveries about the intuitive dimensions of Shiatsu, and impart my growing knowledge to others.
What made you want to get into this field?
My family tradition.
What has been your favorite aspect of this work?
I receive big hugs and big smiles after shiatsu sessions and shiatsu classes.
Can you explain what Shiatsu is and what a typical session is like from start to finish?
Shiatsu is a bodywork that was developed in Japan in the 19th century. It is based on traditional Chinese medicine techniques that are more than 3000 years old and still practiced in many forms today. The Japanese Shiatsu focuses on the meridians or five points of energy that flow through the body. Shiatsu cultivates an awareness of how energy can stop flowing and how it can be restored to flow correctly. Teachings include an awareness of self and others and the connection of mind to a body that will lead to improved health, vitality, and well-being. The benefits of practicing Shiatsu may include improvements in mood disorders, insomnia, digestive issues, and may reduce muscle and joint pain. Best of all, Shiatsu can provide lasting overall health benefits.
During your shiatsu session, you will wear soft, loose-fitting clothing such as sweats or yoga clothes. The practitioner will ask you to lie down on a futon, or cotton mat, that has been prepared for your arrival. Depending on your specific situation, the practitioner will ask you to lie on your back, on your stomach, or in some cases on your side. If it is uncomfortable for you to lie flat, pillows and bolsters may be used to support sensitive areas such as the knees or ankles.
Once you are comfortable, the practitioner will use diagnostic methods to determine the current state of the energy in your body. Usually, the practitioner will begin and end the session with hara (abdominal) diagnosis. All of the twelve meridians pass through the abdomen providing an ideal place to assess the energy of the whole body. Using both hands, the practitioner will gently touch the hara to get a sense of the meridians that are most kyo (deficient) and most jitsu (excessive). With this information, the practitioner can provide a treatment that is best suited for your needs.
How can Shiatsu be supportive in overall healing and well-being?
When energy is balanced, the body and mind can follow its own natural impulse to heal itself. This deep relaxation rejuvenates and induces a state of harmony and peace.
Relief from the common physical and emotional symptoms of stress include fatigue, backache, joint pain and stiffness, muscle tension, insomnia, anxiety, menstrual problems, and menopause.
What is Shiatsu like from the patient’s point of view?
Checkout the Testimonials via The Five Lights Center on what people say about Shiatsu.
What would you say to someone skeptical about Shiatsu and its effectiveness? How do you approach that?
One of my clients; Gisele Bundchen said that Shiatsu is magic, you have to try it. So, I tell them to try it.
Besides Shiatsu do you have any universal health and well-being tips that you’d like to share?
We have a lot of health tips. We collected tips from long-time shiatsu teachers and practitioners. I highly recommend all their tips to apply in your daily life.
My tips are:
- Have shiatsu at least once a month
- Do Makko ho exercise/meditation every day.
- Eat seasonal veggies as much as you can, drink a lot of water, sleep deeply, walk and laugh a lot!
If there was one piece of advice you could give to someone who is struggling, what would it be?
Talk to friends. Talking is part of the fire energy, it is good to have joy and happiness in life.
What resources would you recommend? (books, podcasts, websites that you’ve found helpful)
Books: The Five Lights Center
I recommend my uncle, Wataru Ohashi’s books. Do It yourself Shiatsu which is classic.
Youtube: Meditation, Qigong, Yoga, and music
Podcasts: Health-related podcasts.
Website: Acupuncture theory
Shiatsu uses the correction of the flow of energy in order to restore functions to bring relief from fatigue, backache, joint pain and stiffness, muscle tension, insomnia, anxiety, menstrual problems, and menopause.
Learn more about Kumiko and her practice here:
To learn more about holistic healing, including expert perspectives and personal stories from those who have experienced such treatments, follow us on Instagram and Facebook to be a part of our community. We share personal stories and expert advice on all different modalities of holistic healing and overall health and well-being.
If you have a story you’d like to share or an area of expertise in holistic health, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured on our blog and social media!