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.




Having evolved from feet, human hands still bear a structural similarity to them - many small bones forming the body of the hand, and with fingers analogous to toes but more elongated and articulate. So, treatment of hands is very similar to that used for the feet.

The hands have developed to enable us to carry out more intricate tasks; they are the tools we use for fixing and making things. It follows that when the hands are not functioning as they should, and you cannot 'do things', it may be that you just need a rest. Our society tends to be focused on constantly 'having something to do'. This tendency for hands to be active means that when they passively receive treatment, it can be a surprisingly profound and even sensuous experience.

In the Orient, people have long realized the value of hand massage. All over the East you can see traders haggling over prices, automatically massaging their own hands to prevent the nervousness that would perhaps spoil a deal. Likewise, even in Western society, people instinctively wring their hands to help deal with shock, worry or grief.

About this sequence

As with the feet, the treatment sequence starts with overall loosening and flexing before going into detailed work on points and then treating the fingers, for each hand in turn. Like the feet, the hands are rich in nerve endings, and half the energy channels begin or end here. The connection with heart and circulation is particularly strong, but hand treatment can benefit the whole system.

1. The whole of this sequence is carried out on each hand in turn, so when you reach the end of the sequence with one hand, go back to the beginning and treat the other hand. Position yourself to one side of your partner; you will be treating the hand on that side from now on. Grip their wrist with one hand, and hold the middle of the hand between the thumb and fingers of your other hand. Firmly rotate the hand three times in each direction, flexing the wrist as far as it will comfortably go in every direction. Keep hold of that wrist for the next step.
2. Interlink the fingers of your working hand with your partner's, and flex the hand firmly backwards, adjusting the grip with your passive hand to a more comfortable one. Stretch only as far as the wrist will naturally go. Hold for the out-breath. Repeat twice more.
3. Return to the original grip and flex your partner's hand downwards from above with the palm of your hand. Repeat twice more.
4. Turn your partner's palm upwards and thread your little fingers under their thumb and little finger respectively. Place your thumbs at the edges of the palm and press downwards flexing the palm open. Repeat for two more out-breaths.
5. Now turn the palm over and grip the edges of the hand between your fingers and the base of your thumbs. Pressing down and moving outwards across the top of the hand with your thumbs, flex the hand downwards three times on the out-breaths.
6. Turn the hand palm upwards again, and apply thumb pressure over the whole of the palm. Cover the perimeter of the palm, the base of the thumb and the centre of the palm, applying pressure on the out-breaths, as usual. You can work strongly into these points.
Palm pressure points    
Approximate lines of treatment run down between the bones in the hand. Pay special attention to areas that seem hard or tight, working repeatedly over them.
Benefits: helpful for stiffness or arthritis in the hands; also benefits the heart, circulation and energy levels, plus the lungs and breathing.
7. Turn the hand over again and, holding the wrist with the passive hand, apply thumb pressure to the back of the hand. Work from between each of the fingers, along the channels that lie between the bones, up into the wrist.
Back of the hand pressure points
Lines of treatment are between the bones. As usual, work at intervals of a thumb's width.
Benefits: helpful for circulation and arthritis in the hands; also benefits the large and small intestines, and body metabolism in general.
8. Move your hand in between your partner's thumb and forefinger, with your thumb on top and your forefinger underneath. Press strongly into the web of skin just beyond the muscle that you find there.
Repeat twice.
CAUTION: Do not apply pressure between thumb and fore finger during pregnancy.
9. With your passive hand, grip your partner's hand just below the base of the forefinger. With the other hand, grip the forefinger above the middle joint with your thumb on top, and firmly rotate it three times in each direction. Keep hold of this finger for the next step.
10. Squeeze the same finger strongly between your thumb on top and forefinger beneath. Work along the finger from the base to the tip to cover the whole finger. Repeat twice more.
11. Still supporting the hand, keep working on this finger. This time, turn your hand slightly sideways and strongly pinch the soft part of the tip of the finger, on either side of the nail, between your thumb and forefinger. Repeat twice more.
12. Turn your hand back again, so that the tip of your thumb is on top of the finger, and grip it just above the root gripping the wrist with your other hand, and pull the finger strongly towards you, on an out-breath. Then let your grip of the finger slide out to the second section, or phalange, and pull again from just above the knuckle. Finally do the same with the end section, pulling from the tip.
Take each of the other fingers in turn, as well as the thumb, and repeat steps 9-12.
13. Grip the wrist with both your hands and shake it vigorously for a few moments, to disperse the energy in the points you have been treating and to complete the treatment of this hand.
Now move to your partner's opposite side, and repeat steps 1-13 for the other hand. Stay on that side for the treatment of the arm.

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