Shiatsu Bodywork Nurtures Healing
Mar 26, 2015 07:05PM
By Carrie Jackson
Although people have been using shiatsu for thousands of years to treat myriad physical and emotional ailments, it is still considered a relatively new therapy in Western cultures. A traditional healing art from Japan, shiatsu takes its roots in the ancient wisdom and principles of Asian medicine. Zen Shiatsu Chicago, located in Evanston, was started in 1988 and has become one of the top schools in Illinois for practitioner training and certification. They also offer shiatsu treatments, traditional Western massage sessions, acupuncture, workshops and educational seminars.
Steve Rogne has been the director of Zen Shiatsu Chicago since 2006. He describes shiatsu as “a hands-on therapy that blends all the benefits of massage with all the benefits of acupuncture.” A traditional session is typically performed on a futon on the floor, with the practitioner using full-body stretches, pressure points and other methods on the meridian system to release qi energy that may be blocked. It also works on the tissues, which benefits the musculoskeletal system. Rogne states, “Shiatsu therapists can determine when pain patterns are connected to internal organ issues or chronic emotional issues, and all those symptoms tend to improve simultaneously over the course of treatment.”
Rogne has worked hard to ensure that the school honors the ancient roots of the practice. Last year, he recruited expert practitioner and teacher Lindy Ferrigno, who has studied all over the world, to join the faculty. Ferrigno has 40 years of teaching experience and trained with renowned shiatsu master Shizuto Masunaga, among others.
Ferrigno discovered shiatsu when she was at a crossroads in her own life. “My mother had just died, I was processing a lot of other stuff, and I was looking to try something completely different,” she says. “It was the mid-1970s and shiatsu was relatively new to the United States.” The healing aspect of shiatsu attracted Ferrigno, as well as the idea of treating the whole person. “In Western medicine, things are so compartmentalized,” she says. “You see one doctor to look at your heart, another to look at your foot and a third to diagnose your headache.” A shiatsu practitioner can get an overview of what’s happening in the entire body with a few quick assessments, and see how the various symptoms relate to one another. Many of Ferrigno’s clients also see an acupuncturist or a chiropractor, and she will consult with them to discuss courses of treatment. “The principles of shiatsu are very complementary to acupuncture and chiropractic treatments because of their focus on energy and meridians and the idea of healing the underlying causes, not just eliminating the symptoms,” she says.
Ferrigno’s extensive training has led her to become an expert in pain management, joint improvement, organ manipulation, restoring immune function, reproductive health and recovery from surgeries, accidents and injuries. Because shiatsu is so personalized and the practitioner works directly with the client’s meridians, it can be used to treat a variety of concerns such as insomnia, anxiety and depression, muscular tension, headaches, digestive disturbances, menstrual problems, backaches, joint pain, poor circulation, sinus congestion, synovitis, neck and shoulder stiffness, fluid retention and more.
Clients come in for many reasons, but Ferrigno says that most people seeking shiatsu treatments are looking for some emotional or spiritual connection and support, as well as physical relief. “Generally, people who come in for a shiatsu treatment want something that Western medicine can’t provide,” she says. “The healing power of touch, plus the roots in ancient medicine, makes it a great way to improve the body’s functioning on all levels.”
Ferrigno is dedicated to other spiritual work, as well. She has lived in a Buddhist monastery, traveled to Japan on a Shinto pilgrimage and studied with healers of Celtic, Japanese, Russian and Cherokee cultures. She teaches classes on shamanism and chakra development, and believes that people need support in order to thrive. “In times of difficult transition, like changing jobs or homes, facing an empty nest or a death in the family, calling on your personal totems and allies brings you strength and wisdom to handle what comes your way,” she says.
Ferrigno’s background has provided a huge opportunity for students that train at Zen Shiatsu Chicago. The school offers a two-year program that prepares them to step into the role of a healer. “Students move through a progressive series of practical courses and clinical practice, supplemented by the same Chinese medicine seminars taught to acupuncturists and the same anatomy and physiology classes taught to massage therapists,” says Rogne. “Graduates have the educational portfolio necessary to be certified as a shiatsu therapist and licensed as a massage therapist. They will step into the same world of healing possibilities that Lindy has been living in for 40 years.”
Zen Shiatsu is located at 825 Chicago Ave., in Evanston. For more information, call 847-864-1130 or visit ZenShiatsuChicago.org.
Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine, and the chair of recruitment for Chicago Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Connect at CarrieJacksonWrites.com.