Shiatsu…and how it can help you!

Darling Rascals


I was lucky enough to meet Marian Jarvis through a mutual friend. I knew nothing about Shiatsu before Marian came to my house to give me a treatment, and afterwards, well I was a convert!


So, here’s what you need to know….


Firstly, Marian, tell us about about you…

Natural therapies have always been a part of my life. I grew up being treated with western and homeopathic medicine, going to the mind body spirit festivals, being interested in aromatherapy and crystals and as an adult have sought treatment though various body, energetic and talking therapies. Having experienced much benefit and personal development from them I changed my career path in my early thirties towards the natural medicine field. 

I studied Yoga and worked for a Chiropractor and learnt a great deal about stress and why I found it so hard to relax! I enjoyed my interactions with clinic patients and discussing health issues with them so much that I decided to do some further study so I could work directly with people. This is when I found Shiatsu and its profound benefits.

What is shiatsu?

It’s a Japanese healing art that was brought to Australia in the 1970’s. Its aim is to promote health and wellbeing, to re-establish the body’s ability to function harmoniously and to strengthen the immune system.It is a non-invasive therapy and is the middle ground between acupuncture and western massage.

Shiatsu literally means ‘finger pressure’. It is the application of pressure that distinguishes it from other body work. Fingers, hands, elbows, knees and feet are used to place pressure along the energy lines (meridians) so the energy (Qi) flowing through them becomes balanced. The pressure of a Shiatsu treatment helps relax the fascia (the pearly white membrane that you see if you’ve prepared meat) that covers all the nerves, blood vessels, internal organs, glands, muscles and structures of the brain. Fascia is like a body broadcasting system connecting all parts and processes of the body delivering energy and information so that cells can adjust their activities and the body function harmoniously. 

As Shiatsu has a strong basis in Chinese Medicine philosophy, other oriental therapies can also be included in a treatment to increase energy flow and vitality, bring warmth, release heat and help expel colds and alleviate long-term deep muscular tension.

How can it benefit women trying to fall pregnant?

Giving a baby the very best start in life means ensuring that both the woman and the man need to be in the best possible health they can be prior to pregnancy.In oriental medicine there is a concept called Essence. It is the spark of life, the foundation for our vital life force (Qi) and is the basis for growth and development including conception and pregnancy. When we are born we have a fixed amount of essence but we can contribute to it by eating well, breathing well and living a balanced lifestyle with regular exercise and bodywork.

Modern life is full of many stressors that can easily put your body out of balance leading to symptoms such as low energy, difficulty sleeping, poor memory, inability to concentrate, mood swings, frequent colds, digestive issues, constant worrying etc .  All of which could have an impact on your ability to fall pregnant.

Shiatsu can benefit women trying to fall pregnant by re-balancing the body.It takes the receiver into a deeply relaxed state so they can release stress and tension and breathe more deeply and freely.It taps into our rivers of energy (meridians) clearing them of pollution and renewing them with fresh water so they can nourish the life processes that rely on them. This improves digestion, increases energy and enhances circulation in the reproductive organs, which, ultimately, helps to improve your sexual drive and ability to conceive.

Is it safe to have shiatsu treatment while pregnant?

It is very safe and many of the ‘minor ailments’ of pregnancy such as headaches, oedema, varicose veins and musculoskeletal tension respond well to being treated through Shiatsu.The relaxation aspect also helps support the mother emotionally and physically, and, it enhances her connection with her baby and changing body.

If a woman is concerned about receiving any form of body work whilst pregnant I would advise her to wait until she is in her second trimester and then talk to several therapists until she finds the one she feels most comfortable with.

Women can often feel like they’ve run a marathon and done a triathlon following labour and the weeks afterwards, can shiatsu help to rejuvenate?

Definitely. The exhaustion women feel after labour and in the postpartum period is due to the upheaval of their body’s physiological state during pregnancy and birth (as well as sleep deprivation!). The changes that occur in a woman’s body are more rapid than she will ever experience at any other time in her life, particularly in the postpartum period. The pace at which changes occur varies and a woman’s ability to recover and heal depends on her health prior, during and post pregnancy, her birth experience and ability to balance looking after a baby, rest and looking after herself.

Shiatsu can help rejuvinate by facilitating the restoration of pre-pregnancy physiology, supporting abdominal and pelvic floor toning, relieving neck, back and shoulder aches, improving circulation and lymphatic flow and supporting energy flow. It provides the mother with an opportunity for relaxation which helps her to sleep, rest and ease fatigue.

From the Oriental Medicine perspective pregnancy places great strain on the Essence and the qi of the kidney’s.The build-up of blood that nourishes the baby is lost during childbirth which furthers strains the qi and the deeper energy reserves and the hormonal changes during labour and immediately after further strain the Essence.Use of specific points and moxa (a therapeutic oriental herb) during a Shiatsu treatment can help to rebuild qi and blood and utilising oriental dietary advice can contribute to rebuilding essence and deeper energy reserves

What are the long term benefits of shiatsu?

The deeply relaxing nature of Shiatsu helps to calm the nervous system, emotions and regulate the hormonal system. This stimulates the body’s inherent ability for self-healing and regeneration so that you can be healthy, vital and able to manage everyday life as well as its ups and downs without going into overwhelm.

How important is it for women to look after their bodies following pregnancy?

There are many studies that have examined women’s health after birth and report that physical and emotional problems after birth tend to increase over time, that this can have adverse effects on early child outcomes, and, that for many women long-term health patterns are poor. Recent observations from a Women’s Health Study in Seattle have also found a correlation between postpartum depression and depressed mood at menopause.

A 1998 report by WHO on Postpartum Care of the Mother and Newborn acknowledges the postpartum period is often neglected by maternity care and makes little contribution to their wellbeing and future health. This is in contrast to traditional cultures where the health of the mother in the postpartum period was considered to be of vital importance. For instance, in Japan if the baby was ill, first the doctors would look to the health and well-being of the mother.

Looking after your body after pregnancy is a long-term investment in your future health as well as that of your family.

Some common complaints from women with a new baby include exhaustion, mood swings, anxiety and depression, can shiatsu help?

Shiatsu can be very helpful with all these things. The stress of adjusting to life with a baby, whether it’s your first, second, third etc can cause irregular and unhealthy eating habits. This puts enormous strain on your digestive system. When our digestive system is not functioning properly we cannot produce enough good quality qi which leaves us feeling tired and anxious. Stress stops our qi from flowing smoothly around our body and this can lead to physical tension as well as feelings of irritation and frustration that can turn into bursts of anger or weeping. Shiatsu has a very gentle way of looking at depression.We see it as an expression of the state of a person’s spirit. For our spirit to be joyous it requires an ample supply of good quality blood in order to be grounded in the body. Blood is more than the red liquid you are familiar with. It is seen in Shiatsu as a vital substance, the yin to your yang (qi) and is what nourishes us.

Shiatsu helps the mother relax easing exhaustion. It improves her digestive function so she can produce good quality qi and blood increasing energy and lessening anxiety and depression. Stretches and joint rotations incorporated into a treatment help to keep qi moving which alleviates mood swings. A Shiatsu Therapist can also guide a mother in regards to her diet and lifestyle so that she eats and lives in a way to enhance her health and her life as a mother.

Thanks so much for your time, is there anything else you would like to add?

It’s my pleasure. One final thing I’d like to add is that it really is important that you take some time for yourself. Many women, especially those that are mothers, put themselves second to everyone else’s needs. But, this is an attitude that needs to change. Time for yourself doesn’t make you less caring or not good enough. It is actually a great way to teach those in your life that slowing down and relaxing is an important balance to the busy-ness of modern life. If you want to understand more I highly recommend watching Dr Libby Weavers TedX talk The pace of modern life versus our cavewoman chemistry.

If you would like to give Shiatsu a try then Marian can help.

Contact Details for home based treatments:

Mobile: 0403 550 695


If you would like to see Marian in a clinic setting please contact Balance Complementary Medicine on 9585 6635.

You can also find Marian on Facebook under Soul Body Shiatsu ( or can find out more information by going to


Natural Saffie

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