Why did I start to learn Shiatsu?

by Tamsin Grainger FwSS, Director of The Shiatsu School Edinburgh

I had been receiving Shiatsu sessions for several years and I found them really enjoyable and helpful with my health – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. I learned a lot from my practitioner about diet, exercise and the Chinese approach to life-style.

Did you know you can find a Shiatsu practitioner wherever you are in the UK and most of Europe, never mind Canada, the US and of course, Japan and China? We are everwhere!

It was when leaving Cardiff, that my practitioner suggested it was time to learn to do it myself and I took her advice, though it hadn’t crossed my mind since then, and enrolled on a foundation course. I remember my first class because I had an unusual experience: I felt like I could do it. I knew I couldn’t do it, I mean I hadn’t learned very much, but I felt that I could. Looking back, I realise that having received from great practitioners will have helped. I knew what it felt like from the inside and loved it, so I only needed to learn the tools to put those things together.

“I feel I have learnt – it is nice to practice and be able to use these by myself “

What I liked was to learn about different types of people and how to understand myself better. I discovered ways of helping myself and my family and friends if we were stressed or had aches and pains. I learned a new way to think about and be in the world that was less about doing and more about being; it was so interesting and I felt more connected than I had before.

I was working as a dancer and community dance worker at the time. There were other women and men in the group, and we were all different ages and from different parts of the UK and further afield. I got to know folk who worked in the Health Service, were at home with kids, sat in offices and were sportspeople, and the breaks were great because we talked and shared our lives with each other. I made life-long friends because Shiatsu is about touch and sharing and so we became really close.

I discovered that it takes a minimum of 3 years to learn to be a good Shiatsu therapist but that wasn’t my aim, so it was good for me that I didn’t have to commit to anything long-term (just a year at a time). I was simply interested in things I had never heard of before. I was getting a lot out of it which I could use at home and I learned so much about myself and the people around me. In fact I got hooked!

tamsin on Thea (3)



Shiatsu is always given and received with clothes on.

Learn Shiatsu

When you learn Shiatsu, you:

  • meet other like-minded people
  • learn about yourself
  • get massage at every class
  • learn to give massage
  • learn about Chinese medicine
  • get fitter and healthier
  • understand more about energy (Chi, Ki)
  • connect with your whole self including the emotional and spiritual

People learn Shiatsu for many reasons:

  • To help others
  • To help themselves
  • For self-development
  • To add more skills to their existing ones

The sorts of people who learn Shiatsu are:

  • Women and men of all ages
  • People from all sociological and racial backgrounds
  • From the world of IT and other desk-based jobs
  • Nurses, midwives, health vistors, occupational health, physiotherapists and other health workers
  • Dancers, musicians, other artists
  • Those involved in ecology, work in the natural environment
  • Teachers
  • Parents, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, wives and husbands

Shiatsu Training

During the initial training in the UK, you usually learn:

  • A full range of Shiatsu techniques, treating the whole body in four positions: supine, prone, sitting and side
  • Exercises for developing sensitivity to both the giver’s and the receiver’s energy
  • Oriental diagnosis through touch, as well as through using the other senses
  • Chinese Five Element Theory as applied to diagnosis and (energy meridian) bodywork, and to other aspects of the person and the environment
  • The philosophy of yin and yang and its application to daily life, Oriental diagnosis and medicine
  • The location and uses of the major acupuncture/acupressure points
  • Basic Western anatomy and physiology, with emphasis on associations with bodywork
  • How to work holistically, considering the receiver’s mind and emotions as well as their body
  • Awareness of the practitioner’s own condition and ways of working that take this into account
  • Self-Shiatsu exercises and methods of supporting and enhancing the practitioner’s own energy and personal development

Generally, Shiatsu it is a part-time course of one weekend per month with homework to do between classes to consolidate and integrate what you have learned. There are mini-assessments as you go along and some at the end. All schools will have variations so it is importnat that you consult their websites or make contact with them direct.

Often the course training starts in the Autumn (September or October).

Safety and recognition of qualifications

It is important to always learn from a Ratified School and from Registered Teachers. There is a list on the Shiatsu Society website. If you want to receive Shiatsu from someone, make sure they have the letters MRSS after their name, denoting that they are members of the professional register of the Shiatsu Society, or that they are registered with the CNHC, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council. All practitioners who are listed on these 2 registers do regular CPD (continuing professional development) to update their skills.

Shiatsu training in Edinburgh

For information on The Shiatsu School Edinburgh, please see http://www.theshiatsuschooledinburgh.co.uk or contact Gabi on 07949 002990 or you can email admin@tssed.org

Supine Shiatsu