What is Watsu

What is Watsu?

The word “Watsu” is a combination of water and shiatsu.

Watsu therapy takes place in warm water. Through Watsu, I am able to rotate, flex and move my client’s muscles in ways not possible on a massage table. When a client is tense or rigid, I assist in positioning the body to effect complete relaxation.

The result is a fuller, more therapeutic massage. Water allows for freedom of the spinal vertebrae, mild rotation of joints and maximum elongation of muscles.

The client is supported by the warm water, held and moved rhythmically by the therapist, who also incorporates individualized breathing techniques. This non-impact series of postures helps clients break free from old posture and movement patterns, which often contribute to persistent, if not chronic, pain.

Water therapy helps reduce emotional stress, aids in flexibility and alleviates aches and pains. Below are comments from residents of a continuing care retirement community who received Watsu therapy twice a month for 18 months as part of a study:

  • “It is wonderfully relaxing and has helped my back.”
  • “I experienced some chronic leg pain before I began receiving Watsu. It has almost disappeared.”
  • “I sleep better. I have a sense of well-being. My blood pressure is so much lower that my medication has been cut in half.”
  • “It is the most relaxing experience I’ve ever had.”

Based on restorative principles of stress reduction, release of physical tension and acupressure, Watsu can benefit clients of all types. This modality is especially suited to people with histories of physical ailments that include arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, cancer, spinal fusion, Parkinson’s disease and hip/knee replacement or restoration.

The movements are gentle and fluid and don’t require limbering up or warming up before a session. As a water therapy, Watsu alleviates joint pressure and creates a profound sense of well-being.

I’ve been practicing Watsu therapy in Nashville at the Greenhills Health Center off Woodmont Boulevard for several years. Not only does the GHHC have the warmest salt pool in Nashville, the center provides a supportive atmosphere for rehabilitation.

I’ve adapted Watsu for individuals with a range of circumstances: children with special needs; children with learning differences; teenagers; and clients with PTSD’s, chronic pain, or hip and knee replacements. I also use Watsu with people who have had sexual trauma, stroke and those who are pre-surgery, post-surgery, or pregnant.

Those of us who explore Watsu’s potential for healing find lasting benefits, powerful experiences, and, most of all, a deep connection to just being alive.

gentle stretching exercises

Guided, gentle stretching exercises create foundation for wellness

This 11-minute audio podcast guides listeners through a series of simple, gentle stretching exercises that release tension in the neck, shoulders, chest, back and spine.  The way we stretch helps determine the quality of motion we display.

Beginning with basic neck rolls, the series progresses through four stretches. Stretching should be gradual and slow and paired with deep breathing. Hold each stretch for 2 seconds, then release.

I recorded this guided session for a series on self-care for providers within the National Health Care for the Homeless Council who are dedicated to breaking the links between poor health and homelessness.

Those of us who provide care know we do our best when we take care of ourselves, though these stretches will benefit anyone at nearly any fitness level. Designed to relax and restore, this short routine is a healthy way to start the day or take a break from your work.

Mindful breathing energizes our minds as well as our bodies

Babies are better at breathing than almost all of us. They instinctually breathe with their whole bodies, flooding every cell with oxygen.

As adults, most of us have forgotten what a full breath feels like. But breathing is crucial not only our respiratory system, but our cardiac, neurological, gastrointestinal, muscular and psychological systems, too.

How we breathe affects our sleep, energy level, memory and concentration. Because breathing is automatic and not an intellectual activity, we at times take it for granted. Cultivating or “practicing” a better way to breathe seems strange.

Yet mindful breathing is one of the best things we can do for our health. This 8-minute audio podcast, also part of the Self-Help for Health Care series, offers guided breathing exercises to help energize our bodies and our minds.

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