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Massage Aha!

Professional therapeutic massage therapy in Kansas City, MO by Aaron Harris, BCTMB

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What is Zen Shiatsu?


What is Zen Shiatsu?

Client receiving a zen shiatsu massage.
Zen Shiatsu is commonly done on a mat on the floor.

Zen Shiatsu, literally meaning “meditative finger pressure” in Japanese, is a massage modality based on principles and ideas derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine.  It is believed that Shizuto Masunaga was the first person to integrate elements of shiatsu, Western psychology, and Chinese medicine in the early 1970’s.


Working with a client’s breath, a Zen Shiatsu practitioner uses a variety of techniques such as softeningvibrationfinger frictionpercussion and point work to trace along the “meridians” or energy pathways described in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The practitioner seeks to realign these pathways and remove any obstacles or barriers that might prevent Qi (pronounced “chi”) from being able to flow freely.


Meridians correspond to various organs in the body and subsequently to the emotions and underlying characteristics those organs are said to manifest in our health. As an example, the Gall Bladder meridian is said to control feelings of frustration or angst and imbalances in this meridian are often believed to cause tension headaches and neck pain. Zen Shiatsu point work performed along this meridian can improve the flow of Qi and restore balance to the body, thereby relieving the headache and associated frustrations and tension.

Zen Shiatsu is traditionally performed on a thin mat on the floor, although it may be adapted to a massage table or chair. 

Zen Shiatsu: It's All About Balance

Zen Shiatsu is believed to restore balance between the Yin and Yang aspects of ourselves. It can reduce stress and calm nerves, enhance circulation and flow of lymphatic fluid, strengthen joints and improve range of motion for clients regardless of age or physical capability.  

This modality is also ideal for clients who are not necessarily comfortable with getting undressed for a massage, or who may require some additional emotional or palliative care as opposed to significant work on injured or overworked muscles.

I have received extensive training in Zen Shiatsu and I am able to incorporate elements of this popular modality into my bodywork sessions.

Chinese Medicine Meridians used in Zen Shiatsu

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