Bring in the new year - Yoga & health magazine's Introduction to shiatsu contains very important pointers that will help you learn the art of Shiatsu effectively; it also presents some important 'do's and don'ts' to consider when giving a Shiatsu treatment.

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Therefore it is strongly recommended that you read it carefully before proceeding to Part One.




As the hands were once feet, so the arms were once another set of legs at a time when our ancestors walked on all fours. This means that there is an underlying analogy with the legs, and this reflects in patterns of Ki flow and the Shiatsu approach to treatment. As with the legs, six of the classical energy meridians travel through the arms; half of these begin in the hands and run on the back of the arms, and half run on the front surfaces ending in the hands, in a similar way to the meridians in the legs, with opposite directions of flow' on each surface.

The arms are closely associated with two major internal energy centres in the upper thorax - the heart and throat chakras. These each affect and reflect their own set of life issues: the heart centre is especially concerned with the emotions, emotional aspects of relationships, the ability to be compassionate and emotional responses to life events; the throat chakra relates to communication. Problems in any of these areas of life will often show up in the arms, and treatment, over a period of time, can help with these matters. Along with the hands, the arms are also more specifically associated with the heart and circulation. Likewise, the condition of the arms generally reflects that of the chest. The elbows are concerned with the body's middle organs: the liver and gall bladder, and the stomach and spleen. The wrists are associated with the condition of the kidneys and the reproductive organs.

Now that we walk in an upright fashion, the arms, no longer having to bear the body weight, have evolved in a specialized direction. Like the hands, they too are now agents of doing, with the added symbolic component of reaching out to other people. Together with the hands, they are also our agents for giving and receiving, as well as for gesticulation and physical expression. So all these personal issues, too, can show up in the arms. In many people, the arms are not used to being in a passive state and receiving treatment; this can show as an inability to relax and relinquish. If you find this happening, just give more treatment, especially preparatory stretches and release work.

About this sequence

The sequence begins with preparatory rotations and stretches, followed by palming and thumbing for each surface of the arm in turn. Treatment of the arms is directly helpful for physical problems such as tennis elbow, long-term injuries, general stiffness, aches and pains, as well as complex ailments like arthritis. There is also benefit for the organs whose channels run through the arms - the heart, the intestines, as well as the lungs and breathing, circulation and metabolism in general.
•use your body weight, not muscular effort
• keep your own body relaxed
• focus attention and breathe in your abdomen
• keep your working arm straight but not locked
• lean into each movement on the out-breath, and hold the position
• work at right angles to the body surface
• cultivate a calm feeling and regular rhythm
1. In this sequence, again, you will complete the treatment on one arm, then move to the other and carry out the same routine there. Adopt the lunge position alongside your partner, putting your front foot level with their shoulder. Place your hand on their shoulder, and grip their wrist with your other hand. Holding the shoulder in place, make circles as large as possible with the arm, three times in each direction, to free energy through the shoulder joint and into the arm. Keep holding both wrist and shoulder throughout.
Then, lunge forward on an out-breath, still holding the shoulder, and stretch the arm backwards. Use your whole body to do this. Release for an in-breath, and stretch again, twice. If there is arthritis or any other weakness in the arm, or if the shoulder is stiff or painful, make the stretch gentler.
2. Switch to a kneeling position alongside your partner's waist. Lay the arm straight out perpendicular to the body, with the palm facing up. Place your far hand on the wrist, and apply palm pressure with your other hand, using the heel of your palm to press down, on the out-breath. Work from just below the shoulder down to the wrist. Do not apply pressure at the elbow. Repeat this two more times.
3. Pick up your partner's arm and, supporting their hand in yours, apply thumb pressure along three lines on the top surface of the upper arm, working from the top of the arm down to the elbow. These points can be found along the middle line of the muscle and to either side of the main muscle, along the edge of the bone.
4. Continue this thumb pressure point work into the elbow and down to the wrist, as far as the creases at the base of the palm. Follow the same three lines worked on in the previous step above the elbow; the middle line falls along the centre of the muscles in the forearm, while the other two channels lie between these muscles and the inner bone edge on either side. Pay special attention to points that feel tender or seem blocked.  
Inner arm pressure points
The lines of treatment used in steps 3 and 4 occur in three lines. As usual, press at intervals of a thumb's width.
Benefits: treatment of these points is particularly helpful to the heart and circulatory system, and to the lungs and respiratory system.
5. Now turn your partner's hand over, with the palm facing downwards, and bring the arm in closer to the body, so that it is almost parallel. Rotate your own body towards theirs to face this arm. With one hand on the wrist, begin to apply palm pressure from the wrist up towards the top of the arm with the other hand. Avoid direct pressure on the elbow as you palm up the arm. Notice that you are now working in the opposite direction from the previous steps on the arm. This is because the energy flows in the opposite direction in the meridians on the outside of the arm.
6. Support the arm by holding the hand, and apply thumb pressure over the outer surface of the lower arm, from the wrist up into the elbow. Remember not to apply pressure directly on the elbow. Follow the three lines of pressure point work. The middle line runs along the centre line of the muscle, midway between the two bones on either side, and the other two channels lie between the edges of this muscle mass and the two bones.
7. Continue thumb pressure along the outer surface of the upper arm, from the elbow to the shoulder. The middle line here runs centrally along the bone that you can feel in the upper arm, while the other two channels lie between this and the muscle tissue on either side. Finding these takes some practice. If you have difficulty locating the lines of pressures, ask your partner to tell you when they recognize the characteristic 'pressure-point sensation'. Then move to the other side of the body, go back and repeat steps 1-7 on your partner's other arm.
Outer arm pressure points
These three lines of treatment lie along the outer surface of the arm.
Benefits: particularly helpful for the large and small intestines, and the body metabolism in general.

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