What is Watsu?
Watsu therapy is a very gentle and relaxing treatment that is performed in warm water (which is at around 35C). When performed properly then Watsu combines elements of massage (in particular shiatsu massage), joint mobilization and stretching. The client receiving the treatment is continuously supported whilst being floated, cradled, stretched and rocked. The relaxing combination of warm water with nurturing support creates a bodywork treatment that is therapeutic and healing on many levels.
Watsu began in Harbin Hot Springs, California, with American poet Harold Dull. In the Seventies, Dull became fascinated with the Japanese acupressure therapy, shiatsu. He felt convinced it would be even more powerful if combined with the healing properties of water. Thus, Harold Dull began developing it by floating his Zen Shiatsu students in warm water applying its stretches and moves. Therefore, Watsu is also called aquatic shiatsu, and the word 'Watsu' comes from the words Water and Shiatsu.
A typical Watsu session lasts around an hour. The therapist will outline the course of the session and be able to answer any questions you may have. A range of movement tests may be undertaken in cases of restricted mobility. Once in the water, the therapist wrap floats around your legs to prevent them from sinking during the session. Your head will be supported throughout the session by the therapist along with either low back or knees. You will be gently moved through the water in a continuous flowing motion, with the therapist adding stretches, point work and shiatsu massage where appropriate. Your ears will be generally be under the water, nose and mouth above. Some drift off to sleep, others will remain aware of everything during a session, both are fine.
Therapeutic value of Watsu
The therapeutic value of Watsu is based in the capacity to alleviate pain, strengthen the body and give back flexibility in patients who were lost the hope of movement for any reason. This type of massage is effective in front of problems like stress, the insomnia and the lack of energy, and also to improve muscular and bony upheavals of the column and the joints. It can alleviate migraines and is useful against any painful upheaval that implies rigidity and tension.
Underwater bodywork affects multiple levels (physical, emotional, and psychological) and gradually heals and corrects imbalances, leading to improved body/mind awareness and a general sense of wellbeing and peace.
On a physical level, the sensation of warmth and weightlessness makes all unnecessary muscular activity stop, you just let go, which from a therapeutic point of view is an ideal way to restore health.
Therefore, the benefits of Watsu are not only physical, they go further on. It acts in the psychic plane providing calmness and providing the encounter with oneself therefore alleviating the ills that pronounces in the body but that are originated in emotional aspects. In fact, during a session of Watsu is possible to produce liberation of not solved emotional problems. They can receive children and adults of any age and physical conditions, and not to know how to swim is not an impediment to benefit from all its qualities.
The practice of slow movement techniques with diaphragmatic breathing increases alpha electroencephalogram activity; produces right hemispheric activation; decreases sympathetic nervous system arousal and increases awareness; decreases hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal activation and improves the psychological state associated with chronic diseases, anxiety and depressive disorders, anger management, and stress-related dysrhythmias.
Watsu Benefits for Alzheimers Patients
Researchers attribute gains in brain function to the amount of oxygen that the brain receives during movement. The brain uses the glucose that it receives (delivered by the oxygen) as fuel for thought. Movement increases production of a brain chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which stimulates the growth of nerve cells in the brain and curbs the development of Alzheimer’s disease as well as other age-related brain degeneration.
While, it would be unreasonable to expect that the Watsu will be a magic solution for stopping and reversing Alzheimer’s, it is an extremely effective weapon to attach the accompanying psychological conditions, which are the Alzheimer’s patients are suffering, as depression, anxiety, insomnia, emotional and physical distress and many others.
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