Watsu massage is a gentle form of body therapy characterized by one-on-one sessions in which a therapist gently cradles, moves, stretches, and massages a receiver in chest-deep warm water creating a range of therapeutic benefits and potential healing. It combines elements of massage, joint mobilization, shiatsu, muscle stretching and dance.
Harold Dull, (director of the Harbin School of Shiatsu and Massage in northern California) developed Watsu massage therapy in the early 1980s. He adapted the stretches and moves of Zen Shiatsu with emphasis on connecting with the breathing patterns of the receiver and establishing a meditative state during sessions in warm water. It has served as a source of inspiration for several other forms of water therapy such as Waterdance, Healing Dance and Jahara Technique.
Moments of stillness alternate with rhythmical flowing movements, which free the body in ways impossible on land. The warm water relaxes the muscles and supports the spine. Each person’s experience is unique and varied so there is no right or wrong way to receive and for many the focus will be on the physical effects of letting go, relaxing, the gentle full body stretches, freeing the spine and joints.
The watsu massage therapists do not ‘push’ any particular aspect, but simply listen and allow and support whatever the receiver’s experience is in any particular session.