This soothing, sensual, and meditative form of aquatic bodywork incorporates elements of Shiatsu, chakra work, yoga, and energy work, and Zen Shiatsu and is performed on a person floating in a pool of water heated to body temperature. The principles of the therapy originated in Japan and were modified and brought to the United States by Harold Dull after he studied with Shizuto Masunaga and other Asian bodywork developers. During the 1970s, Dull made it one of the leading forms of treatment at Harbin Hot Springs Resort in California.
Sessions are accomplished in an intimate way with the practitioner in close physical contact with the recipient. During this fluid, nurturing treatment, the recipient is closely cradled and supported by the practitioner while being guided through an uninterrupted, flowing, dance-like series of movements, balanced with moments of stillness. Patterns of rocking, arching, cradling, stretching, bending, and folding movements are used while the practitioner stimulates pressure points with Shiatsu bodywork. The recipient is spun smoothly around in a spiral motion, which allows more extensive stretching than is usually possible and frees up the spine. As the body is moved in this way, the recipient gains the additional subtle effect of being massaged like a piece of seaweed by the flow of water around him. The practitioner leans in with his whole body and synchronizes his movement with that of the receiver so that both the giver and receiver benefit from the increased flow of energy that is often a natural consequence of the bodywork. The totally relaxed body and state of mind evoked by the Watsu experience may allow a significant emotional release, since either painful or pleasurable memories can easily surface; all forms of release are honored. The fluid nature of the whole process may allow the recipient to reexperience the feeling of being in the mother’s womb or emerging through birth into a new world.
Harold Dull also created a form of water yoga, called Woga, that guides participants through a wave-like pattern of stretches similar to asanas. In addition, Dull established the practice of Tantsu (discussed in the section on Energy-Based Therapies in this chapter), which is a form of tantric Shiatsu that is done on land in a fashion similar to Watsu, with the body of the practitioner cradling the recipient. Some of his students at Harbin Hot Springs have also created their own versions of Watsu, as is the case with Fluidics. The primary difference between the two is that different modalities of bodywork are used.
Contact: Harbin Hotsprings – www.harbin.org
This modality comes from “Our Inner Ocean”, a book by Captain LeCain W. Smith: The author, LeCain W. Smith, learned early in life that his personal path to awakening was through ocean sailing, bodywork, and transformational energetic experiences. When living on the sea, making friends with the elements and with nature, he uncovered his passion for adventure, exploration, fitness, and health. He spent many years studying and experiencing bodywork and practicing yoga, qigong, breath-work, and meditation. This passion, combined with seeing numerous friends struggle with health problems, eventually drove Smith to reach out and help others through the writing of this book. If this endeavor changes the life of only one person, he will consider it a success.
Good health is something we all aspire to, but it’s so much more than just being free of disease. A perfectly functioning body, tranquil mind, and vibrant spirit working together harmoniously create the joy and happiness that put the good in good health and the worth into a life worth living. Our Inner Ocean describes ancient and new holistic modalities of practitioner-applied bodywork and revitalizing self-care practices.