Watsu or Water Shiatsu is a relaxation technique in warm water, based on oriental methods of relaxation and acupressure massage. The participant is held, rhythmically moved about and massaged in warm water heated to 35° Celsius. The buoyancy of the water takes the weight off the back and enables the spine and joints to move more flexibly. The whole body is stretched and pulled in flowing movements.
Warm water is well-known as a natural form of pain relief during the process of childbirth. In a soothing, warm bath, the contractions intensify yet feel less painful. Indeed, the benefits of warm water are welcome at any time throughout pregnancy. Moving weightlessly in water is a wonderful feeling: mother and unborn child float in the same element and can enjoy together the warmth and sense of security that water creates.
Besides taking place in a warm water environment, Watsu sessions focus around being held, rocked and moved by an experienced Watsu practitioner. As you relax, your breathing becomes noticeably calmer, deeper and slower. The comforting sensation of warmth and weightlessness makes all unnecessary muscular activity stop. You just let go – which from a therapeutic point of view, is an ideal way to rid the body of toxins, tensions and blockages.
Humans move differently in water and on land. In water, our movements are more complete and flowing. In an aquatic setting, pressure on the body is evenly distributed, because water is buoyant and supports evenly in all directions. This has a relaxing effect, making possible the characteristic Watsu moves and stretches which would be unthinkable on land. The movements are coordinated to match the rhythm of breathing.
Watsu is not a solo activity – like dancing, you do it with a partner. Giving Watsu is just as important as receiving it. That is why, during training, roles are constantly switched and participants discover that giving Watsu really is just as pleasurable as receiving it. The movements are adapted and rhythmically coordinated to your partner’s breathing. The buoyant water is the essential third party in the action, constantly supporting and sustaining you and your partner. Without the water there would be no Watsu.