Watsu: An Essential Therapy

By Mittie Roger.


          Everyone loves a good massage.  Whether long hours traveling, exciting days jam-packed with activities, or just the daily grind, massage is an amazing way to let go of physical and emotional stress, leaving you rejuvenated for what’s ahead.  I’ve been curious about Watsu, a type of massage done in warm water. I’ve heard it’s particularly relaxing, putting you in an almost trance-like state as your tension melts away.

          Watsu (Water Shiatsu) got its start in Harbin Hotsprings, California in 1980 when Harold Dull floated people in a warm pool while stretching and applying principles of Zen Shiatsu, which he studied in Japan.  Watsu is a gentle form of physical therapy, performed in warm water (about 37° C / 98°F). The receiver is continuously supported by a practitioner or therapist while being back-floated, rhythmically cradled, moved, stretched, and massaged, combining elements of massage, joint mobilization, shiatsu, muscle stretching and dance art.

          Weightless in the water, joints, muscles and soft tissues can stretch effortlessly, energetic blockages dissipate and the body experiences a true freedom of movement.  I could imagine it perfectly – the slow fluid motion of Tai Chi with the elegance and grace of water ballet. I was fascinated and decided to find it here in San Miguel de Allende.

          My first experience with Watsu was with David Galitzky of Essential Massage and Watsu.  I arrived at the private pool and was escorted to a private bathroom with shower before the appointment.  The water itself was the perfect temperature, just warm enough to soothe my tired body, and I immersed myself in it.  He started by checking how comfortable I was floating in the water and how much natural buoyancy I had.

          Since I sunk like a stone, he added flotation devices to my calves giving me a weightless sensation in the water.  Then he cradled me in his arms, gently pushing and pulling me through the water, allowing my body to continue the impulse he’d started.  His transitions were so smooth I couldn’t tell where one movement ended and another began. 

          Gliding through the water, stretching, allowing the density of the water to support my body in conjunction with muscular massage– it was downright magical.  I had the sense of losing myself in the warm water, forgetting where my limbs end and the water begins.  To close the session, he supported me upright against the wall of the pool, performed some gentle neck massage and then released contact.  It took some moments before I felt ready to open my eyes and come back to earthly reality.  It was truly an incredible experience.

          For me, massage is quintessential to my health and well-being, and maintaining my travel momentum.  I love being active and keeping my body free of knots and pain makes all the difference.  If massage isn’t regular part of your life, I suggest you try it out.  For me, it’s a must. So, whether traveling to or through San Miguel, check out this deeply relaxing and mindful type of massage

Posted on January 25, 2015 .