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October 17, 2017

What is Zen Shiatsu, and How is it Used?

Zen Shiatsu is a unique massage technique, with origins in ancient China and Japan, that’s become extremely popular in Western culture. But what is it exactly, how can you learn it, and why should you even bother? We’ve got all the answers here.

What is Zen Shiatsu, Anyway?

Zen Shiatsu is equal parts science and philosophy. The technique combines traditional Chinese medicinal practices, modern massage therapy, and Eastern holistic healing philosophies to provide clients with a revitalizing feeling and experience when they’re on the massage table.

According to Shiatsu Society, “a practitioner uses touch, comfortable pressure and manipulative techniques to adjust the body’s physical structure and balance its energy flow.” That last part is especially important. Zen Shiatsu focuses on meridians, or pathways that help channel energy throughout the body, and attempts to help balance that energy, which is unique to this particular modality.

Meridian pathways, according to the traditional Chinese philosophy, are shared between pairs of Yin and Yang organs (along with tissue, muscle, and more), and each pair correlates to one of five elemental phases, wood, fire, water, metal, and earth. Awareness of the body’s energy, meditation practices, and general mindfulness are cornerstones of the Zen Shiatsu technique and the workshop at San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork.

zen shiiatsu treatment on the hand

What Can Zen Shiatsu Help Treat?

Practitioners and clients alike have reported that Zen Shiatsu can be effective in helping to treat stress related ailments like headaches and anxiety, but the physical benefits of Zen Shiatsu often include improved circulatory and immune function, relief of localized pain, and more.

Moreover, the focus on balance of energy (or Qi) and meditative practice can often leave people with a feeling of clarity or a heightened sense of general well-being.

Why is Zen Shiatsu Important to Massage Therapists?

No two massage therapists are necessarily alike. Just like doctors, dentists, and lawyers will specialize in different areas of study, massage therapists sometimes do too. While it’s much more common for massage therapists to have a wider variety of skillsets than some of the other professionals we’ve mentioned, no massage therapy program will cover it all.

zen shiatsu treatment back massage

Demand for massage therapists is expected to grow at a rate of 22%, which is much faster than average, and the ability of a licensed therapist to perform a wide variety of techniques and modalities, especially the incredibly popular ones like Zen Shiatsu, makes it easier to take advantage of the many opportunities available.

Who Can Learn Zen Shiatsu Techniques?

Some of the workshops we offer require some kind of prerequisite training for safety reasons, legal regulations, or both. Our Zen Shiatsu workshop, however, is open to everyone, with or without previous experience in massage.

It also counts towards 35 continuing education hours for licensed massage therapists who participate. While the state of California does not require continuing education for massage therapists to maintain their licensed status as some other states do, it’s never a bad idea to pursue it anyway; continuing education can allow you to serve a wider variety of clients and potentially make you more attractive to prospective employers.

Ready to Get Started?

Head over to our continuing education page to see when our next classes are for Zen Shiatsu and more! Don’t miss your chance to learn a fun, interesting, and fulfilling massage technique at SFSM!

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Elisabeth Southgate
Elisabeth Southgate
4 years ago

I appreciate you helping me learn more about shiatsu massage. I found it interesting that it focusses on meridian pathways. I have been looking for something to help open my meridians. I should look into trying something like this.

San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork

School Campus
475 Valencia Street – 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Student Clinic
– Located at the 16th Street Campus
2973 16th St., Ste 100 – Ground Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
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