The Role of Motion in Shin Tai Bodywork

Motion & Life Force

In Shiatsu Shin Tai bodywork, we use motion as a main indicator of life force in the body. Motion becomes both a diagnostic tool, and a guideline for what techniques to use and how best to apply them. As motion is restored, the receiver’s inner power and healing capacity is also restored. Shizuto Masunaga himself said that motion = life.

As certain specific motions are recovered through treatment, certain things can be predicted in the life sphere. These changes usually occur over time after a course of treatments. Some examples of specific motions coming back into the body and their subsequent effects are:

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  • lateral motion coming back to the ribcage = person feels less trapped in certain situations

  • pelvis lifts and tilts during breath cycle = hormonal system improves, sexuality/identity become more clear

  • shoulder blades rolling = person can see both sides of things

  • paravertebral muscle contractions = person can stand in own power and is not so easily intimidated/swayed by others’ opinions

In a more general way, the more motion in a person’s body, the more motion/energy they will have in their life, and the more capacity they will have to make changes in their habits, attitudes and behaviors. As a practitioner, it can be very interesting and fulfilling to see movement changes occurring during treatment and then hear about the changes showing up in a client’s life.

You can begin to learn the shin tai method of evaluation of motion in our online video course “The Spine.” The material in this course can be integrated with any bodywork modality.

The Effect of Stress on Motion

stress

When there is stress, there is compression or restriction in the body. This occurs during micro-stress events, such as being late for an appointment or having indigestion and also macro-stress events, like a divorce or an accident. The body often adapts and resolves stresses when they occur, but sometimes it does not fully resolve the restrictive impact (whether it be physical, emotional or psychological). Over time, this leads to a buildup of compressive forces in the body which restrict motion.

Most babies and young children have boundless energy. Their systems are relatively free of restrictive forces and their life force moves rather freely through their physical and energetic bodies. Because their bodies are less compressed, circulation of blood, nutrients, oxygen, etc. streams easily, along with the free flow of emotions and ideas.

 
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As we grow up we lose some of our natural movement capacities due to unresolved stresses. This leads to a smaller frequency range of vibration within and around the body. The range of physical mobility decreases, as well as the range of emotional and psychological resilience and response. Perceptions become more limited and distorted.


Space = Motion = Life Force

Unresolved stress leads to compressive forces in the body and less spaciousness. The less space there is, the less motion there is. This applies in a general way, such as breathing that is more shallow, and in specific ways, such as a vertebra having restricted mobility. More unresolved stress = more restricted motion.

We interpret present time through a filter of misinformation that the compressed system is giving. Shin Tai focuses on restoring space and thus motion to the body. As stress patterns in the tissues and meninges release with treatments, this affects the physical condition, emotions, psychology, etc. This progression is not always logical, and depends on the state of the receiver and the practitioner. Deep change becomes possible as stress matrixes that held conditionings and beliefs soften, dissolve and morph into more functional, present-time possibilities.

3 Phases of Motion/Resonance

We define 3 phases of motion or resonance in order to have a framework to operate within during treatment.

  1. Wave: there is a horizontal wave motion throughout the body with the breath cycle; stress matrixes are softening

  2. Resonance: whole body is easing more deeply; stress matrixes are releasing from compressive patterns; outer body membranes are softening

  3. Atmospheric shift: physical body and outer body synthesis; stress matrixes dissolve and previously trapped life force actively recirculates or re-enters system

Someone may move in and out of all these phases during a session. Sometimes it can be several treatments before a receiver goes deeply into Phase I. The goal is not to get right to Phase III and stay there, but instead to always be facilitating more motion in a natural, non-force manner, allowing life force to gradually flow more in the person’s body and subsequently, their life.

Below are a few of the specific micro-motions that indicate each phase. These categories are not exact; they are meant to serve as guideposts to have a general idea what phase of motion is in dominance at any time.

Pre-Phase I:  non-wave vertical breathing

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Phase I

  • wave motion

  • horizontal breathing motion

  • head tremble

  • pelvic lift - vertical motion increases

Phase II

  • shoulder blade motion

  • lateral rib expansion

  • pelvic lift and tilt 

  • turtle motion of head

  • improvement of kyphosis 

  • intermittent paravertebral contractions (not full spine)

Phase III  

  • atmosphere of room is resonating from the resonance in the receiver’s body

  • paravertebral contractions (whole spine)

  •  independent sacral movement

  • lateral/medial heel motion

It takes practice and focus (and treatments for themselves!) for a practitioner to be able to perceive these motions. During classes we go over a full range of motions for each phase, what each one looks like, how to identify it, and techniques to facilitate them. The overall intention during treatment is to release compression, introduce space, and facilitate motion in order to reestablish full integrity throughout the system.


Central Channel & Motion

The Central Channel is a circuit of life force that moves along the pathway of the spinal cord. It directly affects the functioning of the meninges, the spine, the central nervous system, the Governing Vessel meridian, the chakras, and the craniosacral fluid. In Central Channel bodywork, practitioners learn how to identify and release specific stress patterns in the fascia of the spine (meninges) one layer at a time, beginning to untangle a maze of compression that has become a part of someone’s ‘story’ or life. Release of these meningal stress patterns helps to improve a myriad of physical problems along with increasing emotional, mental and spiritual health. Like other aspects of shin tai, the 3 phases of motion are a major part of diagnosis and treatment. This work is complex, creative and penetrating; many practitioners use it in conjunction with other modalities of bodywork.

Fascia is a 3D web of soft tissue throughout the body. The meninges is a special kind of fascia wrapped around the spinal cord. Stress patterns create restriction in the fascia/meninges, and the information flowing through the system becomes inaccurate and/or incomplete. These stress patterns become layered in the body over time, and they accumulate. The effects of these patterns radiate into the body in many ways, and create a myriad of symptoms that are indirectly associated with the original stress(es).

As Central Channel treatments progress, layers of stress compression are released and life force is reintegrated into the more spacious system. This begins to reflect out into the person’s life. It can take about 9 months - 2 years for the effects of a deep clearing to show up. The goal is to assist the receiver to release stress patterns in an integrated matter so that their projection/story changes naturally and without struggle. As the body becomes more clear of compressive forces and functioning in present time, the life becomes more clear and functional within present time.


Click the button below for information on the upcoming Central Channel course in Pipersville, PA. Participate in-person or via livestream video:


The Healing Process

Treatments Create Change

A person's whole story is in their body. Bodywork gives us one of the best opportunities to listen to someone and understand what they are experiencing, and them to shift parts of their life that are painful. It can transform the health of a person's organs, emotions and life system. Treatments can assist someone in the initiation of changes that will lead to engaging in present time with vibrant health. 

People who come to us for bodywork want to achieve well-being and healing; underneath that is always a desire for joy. One depends on the other. Joy can be difficult to experience without a foundation of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. So clients come see us and tell us about symptoms and conditions they would like to cure, situations that they would like to change. They tell us that they are not happy and would like to be.

If we can go to the client’s system and help restore strength, alignment and resilience, real change will begin to happen in their body and life. What is behind their discomfort and sickness will come to the surface and make itself known. This is not always easy; healing is a double edge sword. As someone gets stronger and healthier, they also come face to face with the situations and behaviors that caused disharmony in the first place. These factors led to compression in the body and over time caused nagging, uncomfortable aches, pains and symptoms.

 
Photograph by shin tai instructor hermann grobbauer

Photograph by shin tai instructor hermann grobbauer

 
 
The more we can perceive and understand different stages of healing, the better we are equipped to handle ourselves and those whom we treat with skill and sensitivity. 
 

The Healing Process

As a practitioner works with a client over time, there are usually several elements of the treatment that are priorities in creating positive change. Then there are other factors that can supplement those main elements, providing integration or supporting discharge of physical and emotional toxicity. These various elements of treatment shift; sometime there are certain aspects that remain primary for a singular treatment, or over a period of months or even years. Something that could seem secondary for one period of time could take center stage at another period.

At a certain point of this treatment process, there is a border that is crossed where a person begins to connect to what has been underneath their sickness and suffering. Usually they do not want to experience this. Treatments and healing are fine as long as they fit into a convenient timeline and do not not require that business-as-usual life gets interrupted. But when healing requires a cold hard look into behaviors and beliefs that undermine the health, happiness and prosperity that they are seeking, people often start to panic and look for the exits. 

All types of excuses appear, often seemingly coincidental, to push the healing out of a priority position and back out to it’s normal, peripheral status. As a someone realizes that they will have to go through a real revolution of behavior and thought transformation, and an unravelling of conditioning, they miraculously create situations that enable them to cancel sessions so that they can delay making changes and jump back into the ways of life that cause the sickness. They unconsciously sabotage the healing process in which they had previously been quite enthusiastic.

 

Avoiding the Avoidance

It could be that taking a break from treatments is necessary for someone to have time to discharge and integrate changes. Faster is certainly not always better when it comes to healing. But a 180 degree turn-around from being actively involved in addressing certain behaviors and conditions that have been creating distress, to reengaging in ignoring (and even enhancing) more destructive tendencies is an indication of a usually unconscious decision to avoid addressing the key things which undermine health. 

When you recognize this possibility in a client, it can be invaluable to discuss the healing process in a nonjudgemental way. A bit of encouragement at the right moment can help keep someone on a path towards greater health. Let them know that they are in a period of tremendous opportunity to shift their life direction, and that a little more self-care can go a long way towards promoting healing. This may not be in the form of more treatments, but rather any lifestyle choice/behavior that promotes their well-being. Your sensitive words delivered with compassion can help a client avoid their avoidance, especially when they understand the pattern that may be playing out. 

We all move through this healing process to different degrees. Perhaps you have recognized some of these patterns in yourself, either now or in the past. It is valuable to learn about it so that we can observe it in ourselves and our clients. We do not do this judge, but rather to have the clarity to understand what is occurring. This helps us as practitioners progress into greater health and adeptly guide clients in their journey. The more we can perceive and understand different stages of healing, the better we are equipped to handle ourselves and those whom we treat with skill and sensitivity. 


 

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Magazine Roller Adjustment: A Shiatsu Shin Tai Structural Technique

The following video was taken during a Shiatsu Shin Tai Structure course given in Doylestown, PA, USA in February of 2015.  Please note that we do NOT recommend doing this technique unless you have received instruction in class first.  This video is meant to be a review and accompaniment to hands-on instruction!

The Magazine Roller Technique

The Magazine Roller Adjustment is a technique sometimes used near the end of a Shin Tai treatment.  It helps to bring more motion and alignment into the upper thoracic region.  A practitioner uses the technique only after there is a good amount of space and motion in the system (regular phase II and/or phase III motions).

To do this technique you will need to get two magazines that are the same size.  Then roll each one tightly into a column.  Using packing tape or duct tape, wrap each one with the tape so that they are covered and secure.

You will need someone else to help you get the tape wrapped around each magazine while it is held in place.  Magazines of about 180-190 pp are usually the right thickness to make rollers that are about 2" in diameter.  Once you have the rollers made, keep them in your treatment room.  They will last throughout your bodywork career;  a very functional, simple, economical tool to perform a very effective technique!

Introduce Motion & Space First

It is better to prepare the body well before doing this technique.  In Shin Tai we create space and motion before any kind of structural work, so that the physical body can integrate changes with ease.  Introducing more alignment in this way has the advantage of partially using the receiver's own inner force to make the adjustment.

Instead of imposing compression from the outside to move the structure, the practitioner first amplifies the receiver's motion and inner force.  Then that is used to help introduce even more motion through a variety of techniques.

When the receiver's body has enough space and motion to use this technique, they need to come into supine position.  The practitioner will slide the magazine rollers underneath the body so that there is a roller on each side of the upper thoracic spinous processes.  The rollers will provide support along each side of the transverse processes that will encourage more alignment during the technique.

The Thrust

Sometimes the thoracic vertebrae will adjust without any actual impulse/thrust at the end of the set-up.  Listen to the tone and range of the cracking sound (if there is any) in order to understand the impact of the adjustment.  The more resonance and range (high to low tones) that you hear, the more complete the adjustment.

Take time after doing the technique to allow the receiver to be still and FEEL into their body.  Watch and observe any increased breath and motion.  Awareness on the part of the receiver and practitioner helps to amplify the effects of the adjustment and allow it to penetrate more deeply through the body.

Important Points to Remember

  1. only use if Phase II & III motions have been present during the session
  2. take out all the slack in the trajectory of force before applying the impulse
  3. have the receiver feel the responses in their body after the technique
  4. as a practitioner, make sure to observe any increased motion from the technique

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