What to expect with your shiatsu session.
To help you feel more comfortable about coming in for a session with me, here is a brief overview of a typical experience.
Before your appointment.
After making your first appointment (via phone, email or online) I'll ask you to bring or wear light, comfortable clothing, like what you would wear to lounge, exercise or do yoga in, as this is a clothed session. (There may be certain instances, as with myofascial work, that would be better with bare skin contact, but this would be discussed beforehand).
Standard sessions are an hour. However, I also offer 30- and 90-minute sessions, depending on your needs. I always try to keep a buffer of time in between clients so you have time to ask questions, come back to earth :), and in general, not feel rushed.
When you arrive.
I'll ask you to fill out an intake form, if you hadn't already done so, asking for the usual contact information, some things about how you handle stress, and a little medical background to determine if there are any contraindications. We may chat for a few minutes about your situation, and I'll answer any questions you might have.
The traditional method for giving shiatsu is on a futon on the floor, but you also have the option of a massage table. When on the floor, I usually also use a BodyCushion™ when you're lying face-down, for added comfort, and as a means of gently tractioning the spine.
During the session, I will usually work on both the front and the back, and in some cases, use a side-lying position.
I usually begin with some general palm pressure to gain a feel of how your body responds to my touch, as well as to relax your body and calm your breathing. As I begin to see where your tension is held, I will go into areas more specifically with deeper pressure, or fascia release (a gentle, but effective sustained stretch of the subcutaneous connective tissue), sometimes rocking, or bouncing or using more vigorous rubbing to open up an area.
Moving around the body, I will rotate your joints, testing the range of motion, and addressing restrictions in those areas.
If you've shared that you have a specific issue to work on, I will address that in whatever way is appropriate, while also integrating that into the context of the whole body.
There are some cases in which I may find it useful to do hara massage, that is, massage of your abdomen.
Not everyone digs this, but it can be very effective is relieving certain conditions, as well as give a deep sense of relaxation afterward, even into the low back. It can be very effective for digestive and menstrual issues.
After the session.
When we're done, I will ask that you take a few minutes before hopping right back up, as this is an important time to notice how your body feels, and allow it to integrate this work.
We will then have a chance to chat, if you want, have some water, and relax for a few minutes before heading back into the world.
Other questions you may have....
I like to talk during the sessions. Is that okay?
I know some people feel more at ease if they can chat during the session. I understand that, but I also try to encourage the receiver (through my own silence) to really feel what I'm doing, or go into whatever zone they go into :).
Asking questions, or sharing what you feel is sometimes helpful, as long as you can stay relaxed, but sometimes chatting can keep your awareness on the surface, and you won't get as much out of the session.
What if I fall asleep?
Lots of people fall asleep, or drift into that doze-y space just before sleep. It's fine. Many of us go through our days on manic mode, where even sleep at night doesn't come easily.
This work can give your body the message that, okay, you can shut down for a bit now, and many people have come out the sessions feeling refreshed like they slept for eight hours.
I've heard shiatsu can hurt. Is that true?
It seems that many modalities - when they first come on the scene - incorporate more heavy-handed touch. This has been true of shiatsu, Rolfing (structural integration), chiropractic, and more. As the modality becomes more refined, the touch becomes more efficient, and less 'force' seems necessary, especially with people who get a lot of bodywork or do practices like yoga and qigong.
Personally, I fall in the 'kinder, gentler' touch category - at least initially - as I believe that if the body can respond on its own initially with less, then, that's the better way to go. Heavier guns can be brought in later, if needed or welcomed. It is an interesting thing though, in our culture, that 'deep' and 'painful' is associated with 'effective'. But this is not usually the case, and it says a lot about our relationship with our own bodies.
Having said that, bodies can be tender, and any kind of therapeutic bodywork can touch on those tender areas. Styles of touch vary among practitioners, and the experiences of touch vary among receivers.
I like to see our sessions as a conversation among good friends .. where sensitive topics might be touched upon and worked through, but within an atmosphere of trust, they feel challenging but not painful.
How am I supposed to feel afterward?
Results may vary. :) Most people feel really relaxed. I've also heard things like feeling more 'open', 'centered', able to breathe, relieved.
Depending on what we are working on, other experiences can show up in the hours and days after the session: greater range of motion in a joint, sound sleep that night, memories or dreams surfacing, calmer response to stressful situations, increased digestive activity, relief from menstrual cramps. Some people don't notice much beyond the relaxation after the session, but usually if they come back, the effects become more apparent and last longer after 2 or 3 sessions.
Am I supposed to tip you?
Tipping is not necessary, or expected. However, some of my clients do, for which I am appreciative.
Do you have other recommendations to help me get the most out of my session?
I actually wrote a whole ebook about that very thing, which you can receive for free by signing up below.