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About Shiatsu

"The Art of Touch"

“Shiatsu is a touch based therapy that applies pressure to areas of the surface of the body through loose comfortable clothing for the purpose of promoting and maintaining wellbeing.

A Shiatsu practitioner will initially consult with the client and plan the Shiatsu treatment. The client will then be positioned comfortably, with appropriate adjustments being made throughout the session. Clear and accurate aftercare advice will be given. 

Shiatsu is a Japanese word that literally means finger pressure and derives its theoretical  and practical roots from the ancient traditions of Oriental medicine.

Today it is an autonomous treatment method influenced by Chinese, Japanese and Western knowledge. In addition to being regularly used by thousands of people all over the world, a variety of charities, health foundations, NHS trusts and hospitals in the United Kingdom provide Shiatsu to support patients whilst receiving treatment for a range of health issues and to help them maintain their general wellbeing.

Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council

A practitioner working an acupressure point on their client's hand

What is Shiatsu?

Welcome to ReikiEma, where I provide a range of holistic therapies to help you achieve balance and vitality. While many people associate Shiatsu with massage chairs and gadgets, it is actually a powerful and little-understood therapy that can have a profound impact on your health and well-being. Allow me to introduce you to this transformative therapy, today.

Shiatsu's Background

Discover the ancient healing art of Shiatsu at my Holistic Therapy practice. Originating in Japan and rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shiatsu is a holistic approach to healing that focuses on the interconnected relationship between the body, mind, and spirit. With my expertise, you can release tension, reduce stress, and achieve overall balance in your life.

Originating in Japan, with its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Anmo (an ancient form of Chinese massage similar to Tui Na, which was taken to Japan in the 10th Century CE. The system of Anma was later developed as a profession for people who were blind; with Anma schools for the blind being founded across Japan - sighted people were banned from practising Anma!

In the 20th Century, Shiatsu was created as a healing modality, in its own right - making use of techniques from Anma, and other Japanese healing therapies, as well as the Traditional Chinese Medicine system of meridians and acupressure points in the body.

Since its creation, Shiatsu has been developed and evolved to reflect many different approaches and techniques by different teachers and practitioners, and ranges from taking a Western/Eastern hybrid approach, though Zen Shiatsu, which uses extensions of the Classical Meridians, developed by a prominent teacher/practitioner in the 20th Century: Shizuko Masunaga. There is also "Seiki" - developed by one of Masunaga's top students, Akinobu Kishi. Seiki relies on "being" rather than "doing", more in the realm of the energetic and less on "working" meridians (not Reiki, but with many areas of communality).


What connects all of these diverse schools of, and approaches to Shiatsu, are

  • the therapeutic relationship between receiver and practitioner,

  • the element of healing through touch, and

  • the energetic connection between giver and receiver, which takes place during treatments.

Shiatsu on the beach (seated)

What happens in a Shiatsu session?

Shiatsu is highly adaptable, and can be tailored to people in most states of health and medical conditions. A Shiatsu treatment can be carried out with the receiver seated at a desk, lying on a treatment table, or (more traditionally) on a comfortable futon mat, on the floor.

Before a first treatment, the practitioner will often ask their client a fairly detailed set of questions around lifestyle, medical history and about the client's general picture of health and wellbeing.


These questions help the practitioner to build up a picture of their client’s energetic picture, and any factors which are likely to be impacting on their overall holistic health and wellbeing. Some practitioners will ask to see a client’s tongue, as the Traditional Chinese Medicine technique of "tongue diagnosis" can be incorporated into Shiatsu; whereas some practitioners use observation of the client’s movements, speech, behaviour (what they say & do as well as how they say & do it) and any other outward signs of energetic or constitutional patterns – sometimes using the 5-elements/phases model as a framework.

There will normally be a pre-treatment conversation, which usually covers asking the client which lying positions they are comfortable with, whether there are any areas they would prefer not to be worked on (some people are sensitive about their feet, for example), any symptoms present on that day, as well as giving the Shiatsu receiver the chance to decide/say what they would like to get from that day's treatment.

After the pre-conversation, the client will be invited to lie down on the Shiatsu futon or treatment table (wearing comfortable, loose clothing, and having removed shoes and any chunky jewellery/watches/glasses), and offered a pillow and/or blanket/bolsters for additional support/comfort.

Shiatsu neck stretch (seated)
Shiatsu arm stretch

The Shiatsu practitioner often begins a treatment with “Hara diagnosis” – palpating areas of their client’s abdominal area, each of which correspond to a Traditional Chinese Medicine organ (reflexologists do the same). Hara Diagnosis offers the practitioner the chance to connect with their receiver's energy, to observe the relative qualities of energy in the different Chinese organs, and how they respond to the practitioner's own energy. Shiatsu practitioners will often use the information they pick up during Hara diagnosis, to decide which meridians will likely be their focus for the treatment - this is particularly the case with Zen Shiatsu practitioners.

Shiatsu hara connection.

In the treatment itself, the practitioner uses hands (palming), thumbs (thumbing) and sometimes even knees, fore-arms and elbows, to work along the meridian lines (or energy channels) of their client’s body. Sometimes they will incorporate movement into the treatment, and include supported   rotations, and/or stretches.


Shiatsu practitioners are trained in safely and confidently moving amd supporting their clients’ legs, arms, heads, feet etc, and so if the client is able to completely relax and make their body as loose and floppy as possible, this is best for the treatment.


"Helping” by doing the movement yourself actually means that you won’t get the full benefit of the movement – although this isn’t easy to (not) do for everybody, especially if you're new to Shiatsu - and your practitioner should understand if you find yourself not able to fully relax into being moved, straight away.

Shiatsu supported leg stretch

What to expect after Shiatsu

After a treatment, clients may feel a little light-headed or “spacey”, and so they’re encouraged to sit and drink some water or tea, and come back fully, before leaving after a Shiatsu session. Their practitioner will offer advice on ways to support their wellbeing (such as activities which will help support the work they have begun in the session, food energetics) and if the receiver has any questions, they are free to ask them – although as with Reiki and other energy-work modalities, the experience of the receiver is most important.

It’s advisable to stay well hydrated after a Shiatsu treatment, to take things easy if possible. There may be a few aches and pains after Shiatsu, because it can be uncomfortable to re-establish a flow of energy where there may have been stagnation or deficiency - think about how it feels when the blood starts flowing to a hand or foot again, after circulation has been cut off for a while! 


The body can also sometimes go into a detoxification state, and some people feel a little under the weather because of this – they might have mild cold symptoms, or a minor headache, for example. This should only last for a day or two at most, and will only be very mild.

What does Shiatsu do?

Each treatment will feel very different, and will do different things. What you need, and how you'll receive the maximum benefit on the day, depends upon your energy at the time of treatment. And one crucial thing you need to know about energy is that it doesn't stay still! It's always moving, changing and transforming. This is true of the energy around us, as well as the energy within our bodies and the energy that makes us, well, us!


Some of the general overall outcomes intended by the practitioner for each Shiatsu session are:

  • to help bring the person’s Qi into better balance;

  • to promote the smooth, healthy flow of Qi through the meridians; and

  • to help alleviate any aches, pains physical discomfort and symptoms which may be present.


A Shiatsu treatment can be a deeply relaxing experience, a vigorous enlivening experience, a profoundly moving spiritual experience, and anything in-between! Shiatsu can help people to feel connected into their own bodies – and can bring a sense of peace and stillness.


Some people describe it as "like going to church", others say it’s "like connecting into the Universe", and some people find it helps them to have moments of clarity and self-awareness about how they relate to the people in their lives and the world around them.

It's probably fair to say that Shiatsu is not your standard massage!

A Shiatsu futon in a treatment room.

How does Shiatsu work?

Shiatsu makes use of the same energetic pathways (or Meridians) which Acupuncturists and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners use.


Shiatsu is based on the foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, but many Shiatsu practitioners incorporate other elements into their treatments, as they evolve, learn and develop their practice. This is why it’s helpful to read reviews from other clients and also to talk to your practitioner before trying Shiatsu, to check whether their style and approach resonates for you.


Energy work (as other forms of therapy) is always most successful when the client and practitioner’s energy resonate well with each other. Factors to consider are: how confident you feel in them and their skills, whether you feel they are compassionate (if that's what you prefer), whether their approach and way of expressing themselves feels right for you and whether you feel you just click. No matter how amazing a practitioner's skills and knowledge, you have to feel confident and safe with them, in order to reap the full benefits of the treatment.

Prone position Shiatsu to the back.

For more information about Shiatsu you can visit the Shiatsu Society (UK) or the CNHC’s information about Shiatsu.

Shiatsu reviews

Due to Ema massaging I have more flexibility in my joints less pain and a better understanding of my inner self and my thoughts Ema always takes time to listen to any problems you may be experiencing after my session my posture is so much better Ema is a lovely person

I have been receiving sessions with Ema over the last few months and I have to say they have been truly amazing. From start to finish each session has been a glorious experience. I have felt calmer, more inner peace and energised and much more focused. I highly recommend to anyone looking to improve your overall well being

This was my fifth session and each one seems to get better. I was so relaxed during the session today that I nearly fell asleep. I came into the session feeling tired and stressed and left feeling calm, relaxed and energised. Booking my next session soon

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