Can Shiatsu Ease Menopausal Symptoms?
In Chinese tradition, menopause is called “The Last Gateway of Change,” and change during this phase of life we certainly do. Other Gateways of Change include puberty, pregnancy, and childbirth, which can all be times of joy and discovery, but also turbulence and quick readjustments. Menopause, as the last period in women’s lives marked by big and rapid changes, is often something we’re mostly told to approach with care and apprehension.
However, menopause can also be a time for prioritising healthy lifestyle changes and profound understanding of the natural phases women go through. The average age for the beginning of menopause (or the cessation of periods) in the UK is 51, but this is a gradual process happening over many years, during which progesterone in women’s bodies declines more and more.
Holistic practices like Shiatsu, reflexology, and acupuncture can help approach menopause from a healthier and lighter standpoint, thus making the transition easier.
I spoke to Shiatsu operator, Feng Shui expert, decluttering consultant and holistic healer Mariella Di Fano to find out more about how Shiatsu can help with a wide range of conditions, including menopause.
How does Shiatsu work?
Shiatsu is an ancient massage therapy originating in Japan and inspired by traditional Chinese medicine: by applying pressure along the meridian channels believed to run through the body, the same used in Acupuncture, this technique helps restore the balance of the body’s energy, bringing the body back to its natural flow state.
Does Shiatsu work?
“Traditional Chinese Medicine, with origins dating back to at least 3000 years ago, has its roots in Taoism, a philosophy dedicated to the observation of the Cosmos,” says Mariella. “This philosophy led to the conclusion that the rules on which the functioning of the universe (macrocosm) is based also apply to our organism (microcosm) and that there is an external order and hierarchy that are equally reflected in humans.”
You might be wondering, how can this be observed and studied? Mariella explains that an enormous body of knowledge is applied to these principles, deriving from concrete experimentation as well as empirical observation through long periods of time. “Ancient Chinese doctors collected data and established overall frameworks on which to base their studies,” she continues. “This is a holistic framework that considers the human being as a whole, in which psyche and body are not separate entities but instead mutually and constantly influence each other.”
Ultimately, these alternative practices confirm their success on a daily basis, with people all over the world relying on them and feeling their benefits.
How can Shiatsu help with menopausal symptoms?
By returning the body to its natural energetic state, Shiatsu helps to target and heal physical and emotional disturbances, including those common in menopause: headaches, hot flashes, sleeplessness, anxiety and mood swings.
“We can look at every organism as a balance between Yin and Yang. They are the two fundamental polarities of our energy,” explains Mariella, “where Yin is the most feminine component, associated with nourishment and procreation, while Yang is the most masculine component. From this point of view, menopause corresponds to what we call a “Yin deficit,” as during this time we see a general increase in Yang and a decrease in Yin.”
The work of a Shiatsu practitioner or holistic operator is to “support this polarity, restoring a good balance between Yin and Yang as well as an overall emotional balance. Stimulating different meridians can be very useful, like that of the liver or the heart.”
Sometimes referred to as acupressure, Shiatsu uses the thumbs, elbows and fingers to apply pressure along the channels of energy in the body, or meridians. It helps relieve muscle aches at a very superficial level and acts as a balancing act on a much deeper level. Once Yin and Yang are balanced and restored, harmony is readily available both physically and emotionally, so that symptoms like hot flushes, palpitations, mood swings and general body aches can all be addressed.
How to put Shiatsu’s teachings into practice?
According to traditional Chinese medicine, menopause is the perfect time for women to collect all the lessons they have learned in life and turn them into the kind of personal growth that can only come with age and wisdom: this view of menopause sees the blood that was spent on menstrual cycles each month begin to turn inwards, and be transformed into inner strength and energy.
“When no longer oriented towards reproduction and finally able to healthily live out their sexuality without fear of pregnancy,” Mariella continues, “women can start nourishing and truly understanding themselves, transmuting physical fertility into a more “spiritual” fertility.”
While menopause is a natural phase of life, and an unavoidable one by all accounts, holistic treatments can gently and compassionately help make the transition smoother, as well as bring relief to an array of physical symptoms. Techniques like acupuncture and Shiatsu have made the lives of countless women easier by relieving their symptoms and helping them see menopause in a different light. If you’re still in doubt, book a session and judge for yourself!