Over the years that I've been in practice as a massage therapist I've enjoyed studying and integrating new therapeutic modalities in to my work. After awhile these approaches began to coalesce into a unique style that I now call Shiatsu Alchemy. Rooted in the concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shiatsu Alchemy draws mostly from Japanese Shiatsu, Craniosacral Therapy, Zero Balancing, and Myofascial Massage, as well as incorporating some Thai Massage stretching and Reiki energy work. It is helpful in treating many types of dysfunction, including chronic pain, migraines, TMJ disorders, stress, depression and anxiety. In the following article I will explain in a bit more depth about the different techniques of Shiatsu Alchemy, why I chose the name, and how it can be of benefit to you.
Naming Shiatsu Alchemy
At the heart of Shiatsu Alchemy is the mysterious and powerful ability for our bodies to heal themselves, sometimes in miraculous ways. The work is rooted in shiatsu, which literally translates as "finger pressure". Through sensitive touch a non-verbal communication is established between myself and the client, allowing their inner wisdom to guide the session to a space of true, deep healing. The word alchemy can be translated as "a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way" or "an inexplicable or mysterious transmuting". I feel that the phrase "Shiatsu Alchemy" perfectly illustrates both the literal basis and transformative potential of this style of subtle bodywork.
18th century allegorical print of alchemical transformation (above)
Image depicting points along the stomach meridian (right)
Shiatsu is a Japanese style of massage based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), most commonly experienced as acupuncture. In TCM the body is seen as the
densest of a series of energies, and there is a system of channels (called meridians) running through the body which are the pathways for subtle energy, or qi, to move. Qi can stagnate, become excessive or deficient, too strong or too weak within the meridian system. In treatment, acupuncturists use needles on specific points to clear blockages and establish a balanced flow of qi through the body. Shiatsu therapists do this through pressure from the fingers, hands, arms or feet along the meridians as a whole, only occasionally focusing on specific points.
Craniosacral therapy is primarily concerned with the core connective tissues in the body which surround the central nervous system, and the bony structures to which they attach. Delicate palpation is used to test for ease of motion via the pulsating rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid, identifying areas of restriction in the body. With a light touch, the bones of the skull and pelvis are used as levers with which to stretch and release adhesions in the connective tissues and musculature of the body's core, normalizing the environment of the central nervous system. This deeply relaxing therapy has profound effects on the overall functioning of all bodily systems, and enhances the body’s ability to self-correct.
Zero Balancing A balanced skeleton is a happy skeleton
Zero Balancing addresses the relationship between the energetic and physical structures of the body, and focuses primarily on key joints of our skeleton that conduct and balance forces of gravity, posture, and movement. Using finger pressure and gentle traction on areas of tension in the bones and joints, the therapist creates points of balance (called fulcrums) around which the client's body can relax and reorganize.
Myofascial massage focuses on specific areas of the body where the fascia (connective tissue) and musculature have become tight, stuck, hard and non-pliable where they ought to be elastic and mobile. These techniques consist of kneading, stretching, gliding, vibrating and in general mobilizing of the body's soft tissues. Often these stuck areas are points of qi stagnation, and the myofascial techniques are used to assist in opening up the tissues where they are particularly difficult for shiatsu to encourage energetic flow.
Benefits of Shiatsu Alchemy
The broad range of techniques that make up Shiatsu Alchemy make the style very versatile in treating many types of issues. It is deeply relaxing and restorative which is helpful for stress related dysfunction, fatigue, depression, anxiety, overall wellness and enhanced immune function. The focused manual techniques directed toward the bones and soft tissues are excellent for helping with orthopedic problems, range of motion issues, tense or sore muscles, and injury rehabilitation. Subtle deep healing touch and focus on the bones of the skull, spine, and pelvis encourages your body to release unnecessary trapped energy and works wonders for migraines and headaches, TMJ issues, chronic pain and fibromyalgia. Overall, a Shiatsu Alchemy session will leave you in wonderful relaxed-yet-energized state of balance and wellbeing.
So, this is Shiatsu Alchemy as it stands today. The more experiences I gather and the more wonderful clients I get to work with keep me ever evolving in my quest to find the most effective ways I can to help people feel better. Ultimately it all comes down to touch and the magic that happens when we communicate in an intuitive, intentional way. If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with me, I'd love to chat about what I do and how I may be able to help you out.
Brian Ramisch is a certified massage therapist and Reiki master healer. His unique system of bodywork, Shiatsu Alchemy, is a transformative therapeutic system that aids your body's natural healing processes and supports balance in Body, Mind, and Spirit.