Yin-Yang Theory & Shiatsu

SHIATSU 指圧 (Finger Pressure / Acupressure / "Acupuncture Without Needles")

Shiatsu encourages health and healing through treatment of the energy channels (meridians). An average session includes applying finger pressure to pressure points (tsubo); along with applying pressure along the meridians with the palms, stretching, and other techniques aimed at encouraging the flow of vital energy (chi). Sessions take place on a futon (mat) with clients in loose, comfortable clothing. Shiatsu is a form of bodywork from Japanese tradition that is largely based on Chinese meridian theory. In Japanese “shiatsu” means “finger pressure”, which could be translated as “acupressure”. (Acupuncture treats with needles. Acupressure treats with thumb and finger pressure.) It is a combination of the essentially human act of healing with the hands, Japanese folk healing, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. At its most basic level, shiatsu is the use of finger pressure to treat ailments and promote well-being. Shiatsu is similar to massage in that it aims to ease pain and tension while increasing circulation of blood and lymph. Additionally, shiatsu also aims to promote the circulation of ki (chi) – vital energy. It is the energy channels (usually called meridians) and the pressure points (tsubo) that are arranged along them that the shiatsu treatment follows, rather than the muscles and tendons that guide a massage treatment. There are several distinctions of Shiatsu technique, a few of which are listed here: - The general aim of Shiatsu is to encourage the free and balanced flow of chi. When energy is flowing it nourishes, regulates, and heals the body. When it is stagnant, insufficient, or moving in an erratic way problems develop. In the case of a specific complaint local points or points along certain meridians become the focus. Shiatsu, therefore, is used for general health promotion as well as for specific complaints. - Shiatsu treats pressure points / tsubos with finger pressure (the quintessential technique), palm pressure, elbow pressure, knee pressure, and foot pressure. - Pressure is applied perpendicular to the body. - Pressure is directed from the hara (center). The practitioner does not use force or strain to treat the points or meridians. Instead, movement of the practitioner comes from their hara, which is their energetic center in the lower belly (the tanden, tan tien, or dan tian). Centeredness in the hara is the natural state of man and is a focus of shiatsu in order to promote client’s return to this natural state of health and happiness.

General Theory of Shiatsu: Ki - Qi / Chi / Energy / Vital Force Shiatsu is energy work, not massage. Shiatsu treats the body based on the recognition that everything is energy. If one’s energy, or chi, is abundant and free-flowing then there is health. If the energy is deficient or stagnant then there is a lack of health. These two main imbalances are seen as the underlying causes of ill health. Do / Tao – Way / Path Shiatsu is as much of an art as it is a science, or more so. In Shiatsu, the practitioner must learn the meridians and the points (tsubos), and the various techniques used to encourage the balanced flow of energy through the points. Once all such technicalities are understood, the shiatsu student learns how to use the hara to guide the act of giving shiatsu. The hara is the abdomen in a general sense, and is a particular point just below the navel in a specific sense. The hara is considered to be the center of the body, both physically and energetically. In martial arts (including chi gung and tai chi), dance, and shiatsu, practitioners learn to make every movement “from the hara”. The martial artist does not learn to break bricks using mere physical strength, but learns to cultivate chi and to guide movement through the hara. In shiatsu we do not look to hurt anyone, and we care little about breaking bricks. But we do want to have our sessions be as powerful as possible. Rather than just pushing points, therefore, we use our hara so that healing chi is used to apply pressure to the points.


Ruth Howard giving a Shiatsu treatment Hobart Tasmania Australia.

Ruth references both the Japanese and the Chinese Meridian energy pathways. In the back ground of the above photograph, is the Chinese Meridian system. Ruth also uses the Japanese Masanaga Zen Shiatsu meridian system.


Tai Chi Tu (The Yin-Yang Diagram) Yin/yang theory is symbolized by the well known tai chi tu, or yin-yang symbol. "Tai Chi" means "supreme ultimate" and represents the ultimate balance. Supreme ultimate refers to the universal application of the principles. In the case of Shiatsu, yin-yang theory is the most fundamental.

Seven Principles of Yin and Yang 1. One Unity is the source of Yin and Yang in infinite manifestations. 2. Everything changes. 3. Everything is interrelated. 4. Nothing is identical. 5. What has a front has a back. 6. The bigger the front, the bigger the back. 7. What has a beginning has an end. The Twelve Theorems of Yin and Yang 1. Yin and Yang are the two poles of infinity. 2. Yin and Yang are produced infinitely. 3. Yin is centrifugal; Yang is centripetal. Yin, centrifugal, produces expansion, lightness, cold, etc. Yang, centripetal, produces constriction, weight, heat, light, etc. 4. Yin attracts Yang, Yang attracts Yin. 5. All things and phenomena are composed of Yin and Yang in different proportions. 6. All things and phenomena are constantly changing their Yin and Yang components. Everything is restless. 7. There is nothing completely Yin or completely Yang. All is relative. 8. There is nothing neuter. There is always Yin or Yang in excess. 9. Affinity, or force of attraction between things, is proportional to the difference of Yin and Yang (potency) in them. 10. Yin expels Yin; Yang expels Yang. Expulsion or attraction between two things Yin or Yang is in inverse proportion to the difference of their Yin or Yang force. 11. Yin produces Yang, Yang produces Yin at the extremity. 12. Everything is Yang at its center and Yin at its periphery.

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