Muscle Pains, Kinks, and Stiffness: Float Away Your Muscle Pain
Imagine a warm, watery world where your body floats weightlessly while receiving a healing massage. Welcome to Watsu, a form of aquatic bodywork that can unkink stiff or injured muscles while gently stretching the entire body and offering profound physical and emotional relaxation.
The term Watsu combines the words "water" and "shiatsu," an ancient form of Oriental acupressure. It began developing in 1980, when massage therapist Harold Dull of Harbin Hot Springs in Middletown, Calif., started floating, cradling and massaging his Zen shiatsu students in the warm pool at the springs.
"Watsu is performed in a 4-1/2-foot-deep pool that is heated to 96 degrees (skin temperature), and both practitioner and client wear bathing suits," says Shantam Lanz, a Worldwide Aquatic Bodywork Association (WABA)-certified aquatic bodywork therapist and instructor at the School of Shiatsu & Massage at Harbin Hot Springs.
"While other forms of massage are based on touch, Watsu is based on holding and rhythmic breathing," says Richard Bock, who works with Lanz and is also a WABA-certified therapist and instructor. "The practitioner holds you and the water holds you and your body feels feather-light and cleansed," Bock says. "Many people experience deep physical and emotional release during Watsu treatments."
"Watsu can be very soothing to people with arthritis, muscle injuries, sore backs, neck tension, chronic fatigue syndrome and other chronic conditions," Lanz says.
Watsu is studied, taught and practiced around the world, with practitioners (many of whom are already physical therapists) certified through WABA's 500-hour program. Find a practitioner in your area by visiting the Worldwide Aquatic Bodywork Association Web site. You may also receive Watsu treatments at spas around the country, including Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe, N.M., and Two Bunch Palms in Desert Hot Springs, Calif.
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