What is WATSU®?
WATSU® (Aquatic Shiatsu) began at the School of Shiatsu and Massage at Harbin Hot Springs. Harold Dull developed this Aquatic Bodywork form by applying stretches and principles of the Zen Shiatsu he had studied in Japan, while floating people in water. Zen Shiatsu incorporates stretches that release blockages along meridians, the channels through which our “Chi” or life force flows. In the Orient stretching is an even older therapy than acupuncture which focuses on points along these meridians.
WATSU® is based on stretching, which strengthens muscles and increases flexibility and range of motion. Warm water, and the continuous support it provides, is ideal for freeing the spine. It takes the weight off the vertebrae and relaxes the muscles. The support of water allows the spine to be moved in ways impossible on land. Gentle, gradual twists and pulls relieve the pressure a rigid spine places on nerves and can help undo dysfunctioning this rigid pressure can cause to the organs serviced by those nerves. The WATSU® receiver experiences this greater flexibility and freedom. During WATSU®, a range of emotions can come up and be released into the process of continuous flow. This reprograms receivers to face life out of the water with greater equanimity and flexibility.
Another principle of Zen Shiatsu, that of connecting with the breath, takes on a new dimension in WATSU®. On land, breathing is coordinated with leaning into points. In water, our most basic move is the Water Breath Dance, in which we float someone in our arms and let them sink a little as they breathe out and rise with them as we both breathe in. Repeated over and over at the beginning of a WATSU®, this creates a connection that can be carried into all stretches and moves. This Water Breath Dance, and its stillness, is returned to throughout the session.
Experiencing this most nurturing form of bodywork can help heal whatever wounds of separation we carry and renew in us our sense of connection and oneness with others. For this reason, WATSU® is Rebonding Therapy. WATSU® is used around the world by professional bodyworkers, physical therapists, and psychologists, as well as the general public.
Please note that WATSU® is a federally registered service mark used to describe the method of water shiatsu developed by Harold Dull.