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Ask the OG Team…

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You asked: Should I have a shiatsu treatment before or after yoga?

We asked Carol Culhane, Shiatsu Therapist at Octopus Garden Holistic Yoga Centre.  Carol has over 10 years of experience in both practising and teaching shiatsu.

Often in our busy lives as we try to fit in self-care, family and friends, meditation, working overtime, our yoga practice, cooking healthy food, and the many other things that simply must get done we can do them in an order that is not beneficial.

The simple answer to this question is it is best to have a shiatsu treatment after yoga.  To understand why this is the case, it’s helpful to understand what is happening during a shiatsu treatment.

Shiatsu is a Japanese form of massage based on the same principles as acupuncture.  The basic concept is that energy or Qi flows in certain pathways of the body.  The Qi can be accessed at acupoints and they have particular actions on the body.  For instance, to help with a headache a shiatsu therapist can use points on the hand or the inside of the calf.

Qi can sometimes get stuck.  Shoulder and upper back tension is a common example of this phenomenon.  When Qi is unblocked in stuck areas flexibility is increased and pain and tension in the body are lessened.

Qi can also be lacking in some areas such as in the case of a low back ache.  In the course of a shiatsu treatment the therapist reinforces or tonifies the Qi in areas where it is lacking.  This decreases aching sensations and improves circulation and healing in these areas.

This rebalancing is achieved in shiatsu by using appropriate points and meridians (lines of Qi), differing levels of pressure, stretches and using holding techniques to rebalance the Qi.

Interesting, but how does that feel? 

The most common reaction to a shiatsu treatment is a feeling of deep relaxation, a slight ‘spaciness’, and a desire to rest.  This is because the Qi flow has been changed and the body is working to adjust to this change.  After some rest, food, and water the benefits of a shiatsu treatment can be solidified and integrated in the body.

A vigorous yoga practice directly after a shiatsu treatment places a bit too much strain on the Qi system when it is trying to integrate these changes.  A return to vigorous practice the day after a treatment or, where appropriate, with several hours of rest is very beneficial.  The timing is dependent on the individual and the reaction to the treatment

That said it may be appropriate for an individual to take a restorative class after shiatsu or do some gentle asanas that feel appropriate for your body.  Gentle yoga practice can compliment this change in Qi flow while at the same time being restful.  It is very important to honour how we feel and listen deeply to what the body has to say.

The best case scenario is to schedule your shiatsu treatment after your yoga class.  In this way you can increase the positive health benefits of both shiatsu and yoga.

Carol Culhane has been practising shiatsu for over 10 years.  She has taught both introductory and professional therapist level shiatsu and is a Board member of the Shiatsu Society of Ontario.  Carol is grateful and excited that through her practice she is able to deeply connect with her clients and assist their healing.

Carol’s other talents include juggling, strumming her guitar Lucy and following her Mother’s tradition of cooking while never quite following the recipe.

Thanks Carol!

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