Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Return trip to Cowal

One of the benefits of being a self employed therapist is that you get to choose where and when you are available to work.



The back bone of my practice is based at Woodland Herbs, a clinic and shop in the west end of Glasgow. I also see clients at Life Medicine, a practice set up by a few colleagues and myself in the south side of Glasgow.  One day a month I attend a local university to provide on-site shiatsu for staff. The rest of the time I spend attending home visits in and around Glasgow for clients who cannot make it to one of the clinics for health reasons.  I like the balance of venues as it provides a bit of variety to how I spend my time as well as enabling me to reach more people.



Now usually I keep my home visits limited to Glasgow.  However, a friend and colleague with whom I swap treatments with was looking for some shiatsu in support of her recovery from recent surgery. So for the time being one afternoon a week my time is taken on a return trip by ferry across the Clyde estuary to the Cowal peninsula.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Three Minute Exercise

This is a Ki-Aikido warm up routine that is included as part of the Do-In class.  As well as a good warm up this sequence when done right also helps co-ordinate mind and body, grounds you and helps you move from your centre.

All exercises are done to the count of eight, then repeated.

Always start to the left

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Pollock Family Day



Just back from a lovely day at Pollock Country park.  I was part of a team of therapist representing Woodland herbs at the Pollock family day.  The weather was lovely, blue sky and the occasional big fluffy cloud.  As is usual at these events the day started slowly which was great as it gave me the opportunity to have some on-site massage from Mary.  Just the thing for starting the day.  Cheers Mary.

Now while I was having my massage, I caught the smell of Moxa.  Just the thing for my dodgy knee.  So when Mary had finished with me I sat myself down with the acupuncturists, who were playing with a Tiger warmer (An instrument that holds smouldering Moxa that is used to warm acupuncture points).  Kindly, Paula applied the nourishing heat to my knee, heaven. Cheers Paula.

Having had two treatments from colleagues it was only fair that I returned the favour.  Which I did by working on Paula's shoulders.  As the morning went on I think we all had at least one treatment each.  Filling the time talking by working on each other, talking about our therapies, sharing tips, etc.


By the end of the day I had worked on a few clients, earned a few pennies, watched the presentation of a man dressed as a Knight showing fathers and sons nasty tricks with sharp implements, received some treatment and chatted with my colleagues.  All in all it was a pleasant day.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Finger Pressure


Shiatsu in it’s most basic form is simply pressure.  In fact “shiatsu” translates as “finger pressure”.  The application of pressure to the body via thumb, finger, elbow, knee or foot.  Each tool in the Shiatsu practitioner’s “Swiss Army knife” of extremities, provides a different means of applying pressure.  From pin point accuracy to wide distributed weight.  From light, almost non existent pressure to the application of full body weight.

Pressure can be applied in various ways and for the Shiatsu practitioner not all are advantageous.  Observed from a far, Shiatsu can mistakenly be seen as the action of pressing or pushing.  It is however the opposite.  Passive pressure is achieved by relinquishing body weight to gravity, rather than applying power via muscles.  Pushing usually meets with resistance, were as relaxation meets with relaxation and allows the pressure to penetrate.

Shiatsu is predominantly done at floor level for the purpose of allowing the practitioner to get their body weight over the area they are working.  Shifting the balance of their weight by moving their centre of gravity from between their contact with the floor and their contact with the client.  One of the first exercises a student experiences is crawling around the floor.  Feeling the shift in weight between the hands and knees as they crawl about.

Another means of applying pressure is the relinquishing of portions of body weight.  By releasing the joints the practitioner can allow their weight to drop portion at a time into the area they are working.  This can be as follows: releasing the joints of the thumb, next the wrist, then the elbow, then the shoulder.  Each joint released drops the weight of the appendage it is attached to.  This means that pressure can be applied without creating compression at the joints where it would create tension and resistance therefore blocking the flow of pressure.

Now, that is all very well for downward vertical pressure, often circumstances arise where pressure needs to be applied horizontally.  Like walking, the trick is to transform the act of falling down into falling forward.  By shifting our body weight to fall forward of our centre of gravity we can lean into the area we are working on, transforming the downward force of gravity into forward pressure.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Seated Shiatsu

I regularly attend a local university to do On-site massage with three other colleagues. My three colleagues all practice On-site massage and use On-site massage chairs. Where as I practice seated Shiatsu and use a kneeling chair. On my last visit I was asked what the difference was.

Both practices are a mixture of acupressure and massage. Acupressure being the application of pressure into the body at "tsubo" or "acu points". The same points into which Acupuncturists insert needles.

Seated Shiatsu is a mode of Shiatsu that is particularly suited to short sessions in working environments.

At first sight, the kneeling chair often used by shiatsu practitioners, appears to be at a disadvantage to the On-site chair. The On-site chair providing far more support for the client, enabling them to relax. However, this apparent weakness is actually the kneeling chairs strength.

  • 360ยบ access: the kneeling chair provides access to the front of the body as well as the back. The structure created to provide upper body support in On-site chairs restricts access to the chest.
  • Postural observation: because the client has to maintain their own posture the practitioner can easily observe any asymmetry in that posture, highlighting areas of collapse or poor tone and the subsequent areas of stress created in compensation.
  • Postural realignment: as the practitioner helps to realign their posture the client becomes aware of how the alignment was achieved and the subsequent effect on relaxation. This process can increase the chance of the client being able to create their own relaxation due to postural awareness rather being dependant on their masseur.
  • Interactive support: support is provided by the practitioner. The close contact of this support can increase awareness of where the client holds. Not just in the area being treated but deeper in the body. When supported well the relaxation runs deep, partly due to increased human contact however also in part due to trust.
  • Twisting stretches: the kneeling chair allows for stretching, in particular, twisting of the trunk.
  • Extension of Ki: The kneeling chair forces the Shiatsu practitioner to rely on the use of Ki and correct angle of penetration to effectively apply acupressure. This is because applying too much pressure will create resistance in the client as they have to maintain their own posture.


  • Some days, however, people just want to abdicate all to their practitioner for a little while. The On-site chair excels at this. The On-site chair also enables the practitioner to get more body weight behind their acupressure.

    In conclusion the kneeling chair creates far more interaction and as a practitioner I find this a big advantage, however this is not always what the client wants.

    Thursday, 28 February 2008

    Self Shiatsu (Do-In) for the Calf


    Start by lying on your back with both knees up and feet on the ground.  Lift one leg and rest it's calf on top of the knee of the opposite leg.  Let the weight of the leg drop onto the knee.  Feel your calf relax as you take a couple of deep breaths.

    Next move the upper leg to a different point of the calf.  Repeat all over the lower leg seeking out tight and tender areas.  Use the differing edges of the kneecap to find the right angle to meet the tight muscles.    Let the relaxed weight of your leg to do the work rather than pulling.  Relaxation results in deeper pressure.  Stay with the tight and tender areas for as long as feels good.  Let your breathing help you relax.  If uncomfortable, then still use relaxed weight but for shorter periods of time.  If painful, then work around the painful area.   Do not apply directly to an injury.  Rather this exercise will help the recovery of a muscle after the injury has healed.