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What is Watsu(R)?

Breaking the PAIN Cycle!

People with pain avoid physical activity to prevent increasing their pain.  Reduced mobility leads to limited range of motion, muscle tightness, weakness and emotional stress. This cycle goes on and on... downward. Watsu provides a way to interrupt this pain cycle!

How does a Watsu treatment work?

Watsu is a form of gentle bodywork that takes place in a pool of body- temperature water... but Watsu is far more than merely a massage in water!

Wearing bathing suits, using the carefully crafted Watsu technique, Dr. Seidlitz guides your free-floating body through the water with gentle stretches, utilizing acupressure points and massage to increase range of motion and blood circulation. This promotes neuromuscular re-education using gentle mobilization of joint and soft tissue, decreases muscle spasm, and improves metabolism in the painful areas. Releasing pain can improve a person’s emotional state and their physical well being.



Watsu, or "Wat"er-Shiat"su" began at the School of Shiatsu and Massage, and is a federally registered service mark used to describe the method Harold Dull developed as an Aquatic Bodywork form.  He applied the stretches and principles of the Zen Shiatsu he had studied in Japan with floating people in warm water.  In the Orient, stretching is an ancient technique of opening the channels through which our Chi energy flows, even older than acupuncture.

Watsu is based on stretching, which strengthens muscle and increases flexibility.  Warm water, which many associate with the body's deepest states of waking relaxation, is the ideal medium.  The support of water takes weight off the vertebrae and allows the spine to be moved in ways impossible on land.  Gentle, gradual twists and pulls relieve the pressure a rigid spine places on nerves and helps undo any dysfunctioning this pressure can cause to the organs serviced by those nerves.  The Watsu receiver experiences this greater flexibility and freedom.  During Watsu,  a range of emotions can come up and be released into the process of continuous flow.  This reprograms receivers to face life out of the water with greater equanimity and flexibility.

Another principle of Zen Shiatsu, that of connecting with the breath, takes on a new dimension in Watsu.  On land, the breathing is coordinated with leaning into points.  In water, our most basic move is the Water Breath Dance, in which we float someone in our arms and let them sink a little as they breathe out and rise with them as we both breathe in.  Repeated over and over at the beginning of a Watsu, this creates a connection that can be carried into all the stretches and moves.  This Water Breath Dance, and its stillness, is returned to throughout the session.

Experiencing both giving and receiving this most nurturing form of bodywork can help heal whatever wounds of separation we carry and renew in us our sense of connection and oneness with others.  For this reason, Watsu is Re-bonding Therapy.  Watsu is used around the world by professional body workers, physical therapists, and psychologists, as well as the general public.  As few as THREE SESSIONS can show AMAZING benefits for
Fibromyalgia/Chronic Pain, and tightness in the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs.  Anticipating future sessions can help chronic pain sufferers get through periods of break-through pain.  Releasing pain can improve one's emotional state and physical well being.   Watsu is  valuable for these special needs and other populations such as the elderly, teenagers, children, and pregnant women.

(Reprinted in part from the School of Shiatsu and Massage handout entitled "WHAT IS WATSU®?"  For more information about Watsu or other body work instruction, please contact the School of Shiatsu and Massage, Middletown, California, at 800-693-3296, or at the Worldwide Aquatic Bodyworker Association (WABA) at:


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