Lisabetta Vilela, Shiatsu Therapist at The Little Escape
Shiatsu is a Traditional Japanese bodywork used to stimulate the body by applying pressure to points across the body to affect the circulation of Ki (energy). Deep rhythmic movement, assisted stretches and the treatment of specific release points helps to release and stimulate the body to regain its natural equilibrium. Shiatsu treats the whole person, concentrating not only on the symptoms but also on the individuals’ vitality and innate healing power.
How did you first find out about and get into Shiatsu?
Firstly I discovered Reiki in 1999 and learnt how to give and use Reiki on myself, family and friends. After a year I wanted to learn a similar therapy with a focus on energy, but one within a system of medicine with its own history and lineage – with greater diagnostic methods to help people in more depth.
I came across Shiatsu at my local college and enrolled on a 10 week evening course. I was completely hooked! Not only did I love receiving and giving Shiatsu but I also loved learning about the ‘Ki’ energy system and its mechanisms, traditions and knowledge. I left each class feeling uplifted and excited. On the final class I was paired with the instructor and gave twenty minute swaps of the techniques we had learnt in the past 9 weeks. Her treatment was amazing – so different from any other massage I had experienced before in the way that she connected with me on a deep level. Through her treatment I became aware of the anxiety I had been carrying all day and was finally able to release it. Afterwards I felt calm, peaceful, yet energized.
Within months I enrolled on a 3 year Professional Practitioner Course with the European Shiatsu School and begun my shiatsu journey in the autumn of 2002. I completed the course and received my Practitioner Diploma in 2007 and have been practising ever since.
What about Pregnancy Shiatsu?
Shiatsu during pregnancy is a brilliant support system for all women. It is a gentle yet deeply relaxing therapy which supports and nurtures women through the rapid changes of pregnancy helping them adapt to their changing bodies as well as evolving emotional states.
I was pregnant during my course and as a result I received a lot of shiatsu from students and teachers alike. I loved it and looked forward to my lessons not so much to learn or give but to receive! I guess I needed the support at the time.
The focus on treatment changes as the woman’s body and emotional needs change. This is an aspect of Shiatsu as a whole; the treatment is adapted to suit the individual and their needs at any point in time. Last year I learnt with Suzanne Yates who is the leading expert on shiatsu in pregnancy and labour and runs courses for midwives and massage therapists. Her knowledge and dedication in this field is truly inspiring. She demonstrates how Shiatsu can be a supportive therapy during circles of change in a woman’s life: like pregnancy, labour and menopause.
Where else did your studies take you?
I have completed several courses with prominent Shiatsu teachers specialising in particular fields, or just vastly experienced and hugely inspiring. I’ve worked with Dan Stretton who deals with pelvic re-alignment, posture and working with back problems; Bill Palmer on movement shiatsu; Suzanne Yates on Pregnancy Shiatsu and Michael Rose, a prominent shiatsu teacher full of great wisdom and humility. I also took a workshop on Shiatsu for Autism, which was not only fascinating but renewed my belief that Shiatsu as a therapy can be helpful for everyone. I attended this course more out of curiosity as a friend’s young son was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. From the Practitioner’s experience many of the children responded and appreciated strong holding pressure. They wanted to feel their physical boundaries and the practitioner created a space for this to happen, making a 30 minute treatment fun and physical.
I’m also interested in the energetics of food, based on eastern and oriental system of medicine and tradition. I was fortunate to have met the late Chris Jarmey who was an expert in this field and founder of the EuropeanShiatsuSchool. He was one of the first practitioners to have practised shiatsu in an NHS hospital in the 70’s. His research into food energetics was inspiring and empowering.
My interest in healing all aspects of ourselves has led me to study other energy systems; the Light body system, the aura, the chakra system and how bringing these systems to balance can help clear and heal long standing issues.
Shiatsu for me is a labour of love. There is a lot to learn and experience and I’m looking forward to the journey.