What's a Watsu?

Watsu - Water Shiatsu

Watsu is Harold Dull's blend of traditional Shiatsu techniques adapted to an aquatic environment. Harold, the lonely poet got interested in massage wanting more contact. With his very structured mind  he was able to create his very own, unique style of bodywork in the welcoming environment of Harbin Hot Spring's warm pool. He said himself that nowhere else Watsu could have blossomed, but in the permissive atmosphere of Harbin. Watsu is one intimate style of bodywork. The receiver is cradled, often like a baby in the givers arms. Contact, skin to skin usually at Harbin, or skin to bathing suit elsewhere, is practically unavoidable. There is nothing more blissful and deeply relaxing then lying in the soft arms of a skilled, professional bodyworker, buoyant in warm water. The synchronized breath of giver and receiver dictates the rise and fall, the rhythm of what is about to unfold.

Relaxation, I always contend, is only the beginning, but for many it is the desired end goal. For some, the intimacy with a stranger and the sense of floating and loosing often tight held boundaries, is too much. Their stomachs may revolt, their spirits may object, their bodies may subject them to waves of nausea, and worse.

For a few this form of bodywork will carry them to their depth, to old, unresolved traumas, to places in need of deep healing, to experiences wanted maybe all their lives, without ever having known. They might encounter memories, dreams, bits and pieces that float up from their unconscious. In the safe embrace of an experienced therapist those fragments will be welcomed and followed to their natural conclusion. No forcing, no molding, no shoulds or coulds, just simple acceptance and an understanding of human needs and wants, so simple, yet so often unmet. Communication may stay silent or not, may include crying or not, may include any form of expression from the receiver, including hitting and shouting, in anger or rage, - or not. There is no prescribed way of experiencing a Watsu, of experiencing life, one's inner river of aliveness, of that which wants to be whole, wants to heal, wants to experience that which has been missing.

Healing flows in cycles and so does a Watsu. While the melded breath of both, giver and receiver, dictates a rhythm for the receiver to be cradled and rocked while in a constant embrace, as the Watsu progresses, the therapist may seek more specific interaction with points of soreness or limitations.

Water is amazing in it's ability to mirror with clarity the state of one's lack of fluidity. It makes it easy to uncover long held patterns of resistance, limitation, maybe protection. The skilled therapist will have a whole arsenal of tools at disposal to address such. A deepened stage of relaxation usually experienced in warm water makes such tools very effective. Aquatic Bodywork is powerful! It can be approached with many principles in mind and is by no means limited to Shiatsu and simple rocking and floating. Personally I incorporated structural bodywork and others have experimented at large with cranio-sacral rhythms and releasing techniques. Some physiotherapist use resistance exercises, while some psychotherapist encourage full self expression that may include kicking and screaming. Israel, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Japan are countries I am aware of that have integrated Watsu in their own unique styles. So, if you have not had your Watsu today,  go get one, don't delay!

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