Imagine floating on your back in a hot spring, the warm water bubbling and swirling around your skin as you sink deeper and deeper into bliss... Now imagine that in the water you're being gently cradled and moved through a series of gentle stretches, movements, and light massage while you float.
That is the dreamy essence of Watsu, a form aquatic bodywork that moves the recipient through a series of yoga-like stretches & gentle massage. It's a deeply peaceful dance that is based on Zen Shiatsu. The receiver gets to float, completely relaxed, and just focus on releasing deeper and deeper layers of tension.
This October I took an introductory class to begin learning Watsu! I've always loved the water, and have had some of my most profound healing and meditative experiences in hot tubs, hot springs, and bathtubs (2.5 hours is a normal bath time, right?). Following a profoundly life-changing psychedelic experience in a hot tub, I've felt a strong call to do transformational work with people in water. Watsu is the doorway to the world of water play (I've now discovered Janzu, Aguahara, Waterdance / Healing Dance, among others).
Harold Dull developed Watsu in 1980 at Harbin Hot Springs, CA. He was an instructor of Zen Shiatsu which he studied with its creator, Shizuto Masanaga, in Japan. Harold found warm water to be the ideal medium for extending that technique's benefits.
Watsu is practiced in hot springs or warm water pools heated to 93-96ºF. The support of the water, the freeing of your breath, and the movements from the practitioner all help to free your spine and relax your nervous system. In the water you feel safe enough to open yourself - the water is supporting you - emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically.
As stated on Watsu.com, "[Watsu] promotes deep relaxation, quieting the sympathetic and enhancing the parasympathetic nervous systems. It has profound beneficial effects for trauma, both physical and psycho-emotional, with therapeutic application for neuromuscular injuries, stress, chronic pain, discomfort during pregnancy, and special needs.
Watsu is helpful for treating...
Injuries, surgeries, and physical traumas
Issues of bones, joints, and muscles
Stress, anxiety, and other mental stressors
Back and neck pain.
Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain diseases.
Mood disorders (such as anxiety or PTSD)
Spinal cord or brain injury due to trauma, stroke or degenerative disease, etc.
My first day of Watsu class was also my first time receiving at Watsu session, and it was meditatively wonderful. My system felt very calm, centered, and soft- a lot like how I feel after Craniosacral Therapy. During the session, I noticed that when I got stuck in my thoughts, my body would stiffen ever so slightly and resist the movements. This awareness, due to the flow of the Watsu moves, enabled me actively witness & release the mind chatter and focus on the feelings of being swished, swirled, and floated in the water. It was deliciously blissful :)
I'm currently practicing this technique, and looking for test subjects! Please email me if you're interested. Practice sessions are 45 minutes long, location TBD around the Boulder/Denver area. To cover the cost of pool rental fees I ask for a small donation.