Last week I spoke in a generalized way about couch shiatsu and I also had a brief opportunity to demonstrate this to a small group at the Leap Up! Wellbeing Day at Centrepoint here in Basel. I would like to speak in more detail about it, a lot can be said, but on the other hand augmenting your forays into the world of bodywork with sofa and self shiatsu is about developing your own kinesthetic sense. It’s about your learning how to be well, whole, and good in your own body. Perhaps my words are then superfluous? But if so that would make this a very short blog entry. so instead, here are a few things to look out for or incorporate into your sofa sojourn.
Let Go. Make sure you really have 30-40 minutes for yourself. Don’t forget to put your phone on airplane mode or use some other methods to ensure you’re not interrupted and give yourself time at the start of the session to just “be.” When I was demonstrating last Saturday I felt pressure to “get things moving and describe something cool” and that was a very unacustomed and uncomfortable feeling. Don’t let outside forces compromise your quality time with the fascia.
Vary the tempo and dynamics. Bring a sense of musicality and play to these sessions. Once you’re settled in and gradually becoming aware, look to introduce rhythmic elements to your touch and then begin to introduce a play of tempo changes mixed with altering the amplitude of the movements. For example alternate circling the feet slowly with making an action as though you were swimming free-style and paddling furiously. As you travel along the body’s surface in your explorationns see if you can introduce a variety of movement, tempo and amplitude at each of the joints you visit. Ask yourself, “what are the limitations to this joints movement? Is there pain, popping sounds or obstructions?” Question as if you where a procecuting attorney.
Allow time for the fascia to move. Without starting an awkward and misplaced technical explanation here abut fascia simply know this: The sublime “bags” of skin encapsulating all the body’s structures and swimming in a gel-like media respond to 1) heat 2) pressure and 3) time under the influence of the first two factors. Google more if you like but for our simple purposes as John and Jane Doe bodyworker we just need to know that as we apply sustained pressure to an area of our skin, the heat of our hand (or foot), the angle, depth and type of pressure will, with time cause the underlying fascial structures to “melt” and “flow.” Here is your chance to deepen your meditative stability and move your mind into some of the body’s structures and get them to move and groove.
The main thing to remember is that if you want to influence the fascia e.g. increasing range of motion up and downstream from a joint, then you must apply pressure for a minimum of about 90 seconds before the tissue begins to respond. You’ll really need some patience and you will have to exercise some cleverness about how you will apply steady pressure at an adequate depth for long enough to reach the minimum dose WITHOUT allowing that pressure to create tension somewhere else or just plain exhausting you. Since you’re awesome I know you’ll have little trouble with this though.
Next time I’ll suggest a few tricks for leveraging this limb against that one so that you can enjoy the “melt” without getting all “tensed up,” I’ll also point out how you can extend simple techniques by launching into some creative movement improvisations so that you can experience “the switch” under your own power.