Vulnerability The Key To Inner Freedom – By Mihael Mamychshvili RST


In the last twelve years as a Shiatsu Therapist, I have found that often it is a client’s fear of being vulnerable which hinders their healing process.

A person’s inner beauty and individual uniqueness can be seen when vulnerability is shared between two humans. There are two inherent needs that we human beings have and they are “to be Seen” and to be understood.  What prevents this exchange is our own fear and sometimes shame at being vulnerable in front of someone else.  As children, we freely express ourselves honestly and openly. We need move away from the associations of weakness, neediness, and instability towards :

·         Empowered Empathy

·          Enhanced Sensitivity

·          Enhanced Intuition

·          Greater will and Impetus to pursue dreams and goals.

Once we accept our vulnerability and see it as a source of power then we will become more confident, have a deeper understanding of self which spills over into our relationships, and thus improves our ability to connect with a variety of human beings.

To help clients access their power, A therapist creates a space where the person feels safe and heard. Once trust is established, the therapist uses his/her touch and sensitivity to “listen” to the body and the pain areas. Shiatsu Therapists are trained to even feel the defensive mechanisms that we use to block our vulnerability. With knowledge and experience, the therapist will know how and where to manipulate the body to relax and “open up”. In a way, the body begins to dialogue with the therapist . Once a connection is achieved the body will “Let Go” and then emotions can surface, old memories arise and a sense of relief is achieved at first. Then with subsequent sessions come empowerment and a sense of lightness in the body.

I feel very privileged to be sharing a constant state of vulnerability with the people that come to receive my Shiatsu treatments.

” It is sacred to me and I cherish and protect that space like a Samurai but with the same sensitivity and attentiveness of a Geisha.”



Re-defining the role of Shiatsu in pregnancy, birth and babyhood

By Suzanne Yates

Suzanne Yates, is a Shiatsu practitioner and teacher based in Bristol, England who has focused a lot of her work since 1989, in the field of pregnancy, birth and babyhood. She runs, with her partner, Chris Wilkinson, Homœopath and Yoga teacher, "Well Mother" which offers a whole package of support for women and their partners and also runs courses for shiatsu practitioners, massage therapists and midwives. In this article she makes a case for exploring our attitudes to pregnancy and birth, as well as evaluating the role of Shiatsu at this time.

As a lot of my work is in the field of "Midwifery and complementary therapies". I find it somewhat concerning that Shiatsu does not have such a high profile as some of the other therapies - particularly yoga, acupuncture, homœopathy, reflexology, massage and aromatherapy. I have decided to extend my work, which up until fairly recently has been primarily working with parents and babies, to working much more with midwives and NHS health professionals, shiatsu practitioners and other holistic therapists. I hope through this article to stimulate more discussion on the role of Shiatsu and consideration of the vital part it can play in women's, and their partner's lives.

I think pregnancy is often an area which is seen as something separate, rather than as a natural part of many women's lives. It is ideally a healthy movement from womanhood to motherhood, which offers much potential for change, growth and personal development. Yet by many it can be viewed with anxiety, as times of change often are. I think Shiatsu practitioners are as guilty of doing this as anyone else. I do wonder how many Shiatsu practitioners are anxious in some way of working with women through their pregnancies and births, and perhaps err on the side of donning kid gloves. I find it interesting that in the core curriculum, points contra-indicated during pregnancy are highlighted as a separate topic. I also wonder how much we have unconsciously absorbed many of the attitudes linked in with the Western medical approach to birth. More than any other time of our lives, even the most alternative people have some contact with the NHS during their pregnancy. It is indeed illegal to give birth without a midwife present. Yet although the Western approach does have a lot to offer, it has in my opinion one fundamental flaw. That is that the very nature of the care it provides tends to undermine the confidence of the mother and the partner in listening to and acting on their own wisdom, and that of their baby. Although now, since the publication of the government report "Changing Childbirth" in 1993, women are, supposedly, the experts, and their knowledge is acknowledged to be as valid as any obstetricians, the whole system of care is by its very nature disempowering.

This is really what I see one of the crucial roles for Shiatsu. Shiatsu by its very essence enables people to be more connected with their own energy and during pregnancy with the energy of their baby, in a very direct and accessible way. In this sense it can be one of the most powerful therapies for women and their partners at this time, particularly if the Shiatsu session itself is complemented with tools for the woman to continue exploring and deepening this connection with her body and her baby. The underlying belief which informs all my work with pregnant women is that ultimately they know their bodies and babies better than anyone else. As practitioners we need to be aware of any of our own anxieties which may interfere with us empowering women to contact their wisdom. We also need to be aware of any influences which inhibit the mother being in contact with her wisdom. Yes, there are the situations we are familiar with, of people not eating well and living lives which disconnect them from their bodies. Yet we also need to be acutely aware of how Western maternity care powerfully undermines that trust a woman has in her body, at a time in which she is particularly sensitive and vulnerable.
Some of us are already familiar with attending births and maybe using specific points and techniques. I myself have also taught many birth partners Shiatsu for labour, including fathers and midwives. I regularly run, with my partner Chris Wilkinson, Birth Preparation Days, of which Shiatsu is a crucial element. I am always surprised how much people can take on after even a few hours tuition. I particularly encourage people to get a feel of "Shiatsu touch", as well as teaching the points and areas which can be of use. We guide them to relate to their partner's body in the "Shiatsu" way, getting some feel for energy and how it changes when working with points.
When my daughter was 3 months old in September 1990, I began teaching weekly ante and post natal classes, which I have been doing ever since. I continue to develop my exercises, learning continually from the women who attend my classes and through my second pregnancy in 1995. I include variations on makkho exercises, more yoga type work for strengthening the back, quite a lot of work on physically toning the abdomen and pelvic floor muscles, as well as a lot of breathing and contacting energy kind of work, especially including an awareness of the baby, whether in the womb or already born. I find these weekly classes complement Shiatsu sessions. If people come for Shiatsu as well, then I can tailor the exercises to support the meridian work done in the session. I have also been surprised by how quickly, even sometimes after attending just one class, many women gain relief from physiological symptoms like backache, tiredness, varicose veins, rib flare, swelling, simply by attending these classes, without the support of the Shiatsu session.

A partner is able to support a woman in labour with Shiatsu without being a Shiatsu practitioner. Over the 7 years we have been teaching these workshops, we have witnessed many other partners give support with Shiatsu. I think one of the best times was when I had a class full of obstetricians and later they came back to me enthusiastic about the effectiveness of the Shiatsu. By the time I gave birth to our son Bram Delaney, also at home in 1995, the midwives didn't need to be convinced of the value of Shiatsu and our approach to birth. It's been one of the highpoints of my work and life, that they did nothing at the birth, and it was my body and my hands alone which brought Bram into the world.
I have also developed Shiatsu for babies. I find it is better to teach the parents to massage their babies, although sometimes with ill babies I'll work directly on them and then teach the parents specific techniques. Postnatally, especially in the first 6 months, I find it is important to be able to offer home visits, as mothers focus exclusively on their babies' needs, at the expense of their own. I also find it is important to be able to be adaptable and to include the baby in the session if necessary. I've given some lovely sessions where the baby has been lying on the mother's belly, even feeding. The baby is not really separate from the mother in this early period. Many cultures see the first 9 months of a baby's life as a transition period, when although out of the womb, s/he is still strongly interconnected with the mother.
I look forward to hearing from the many of you out there ,who I am sure work with pregnant women and raising the profile of Shiatsu in this field.

You can contact me at 

24, Dunkerry Road, Windmill Hill, Bristol BS3 4LB Tel: 0117 9632 306
or you can e-mail me:

A few useful references;

  • Marsden Wagner "Pursuing the Birth Machine"
  • Ohashi " Shiatsu for Pregnancy and Birth"
  • D.Tiran and S. Mack (editors) "Complementary therapies for pregnancy and childbirth"
  • E. Noble "Essential Exercises for the Childbearing Year", "Primal Connections"


Copyright Suzanne Yates January 1998