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.