What Is Watsu®?

Watsu is a gentle form of body therapy performed in warm water, (around 35°C.) It combines elements of massage, joint mobilisation, shiatsu, muscle stretching and dance. The receiver is continuously supported while being floated, cradled, rocked and stretched. The deeply relaxing effects of warm water and nurturing support, combine with Watsu’s movements, stretches, massage and point work, to create a bodywork with a range of therapeutic benefits and potential healing on many levels.

Moments of stillness alternate with rhythmical flowing movements, which free the body in ways impossible on land. The warm water relaxes the muscles and supports the spine. With this support and without the weight of the body, the spine, joints and muscles can be manipulated and freed in a way unique to water work. The effects include a very gentle, yet deep stretching and a release of muscular and joint restrictions, along with a state of deep relaxation, which encourages the release of stress and tensions.

Worldwide Watsu is currently provided in many international health and wellness spas as well as in aquatic physiotherapy programmes. It is finding countless applications in therapy, aiding recovery from injury, relieving muscular and joint pain and encouraging movement and flexibility. In addition many are enjoying sharing Watsu’s simpler moves with family and friends. At practitioner level it can stand alone as a therapy or be used as a wonderful complement to therapeutic work on land.

What Does Watsu® Do?

Many clients will come with a specific focus (e.g. pain syndromes, post injury or post surgery, specific movement restrictions)…while others seek Watsu for the experience of relaxation, blissful letting go, time-out, and quiet meditative stillness it can induce.

Imagine, the warmth and sense of weightlessness induced by water,… your eyes closed, so there is just the play of light across your eyelids, your ears are under the water so the sound of the world is muffled. The world starts to disappear, leaving just yourself and your experience of body and being in the water, nothing to do, nowhere to go, just receiving and letting go, into the graceful movement, rocking cradling and gentle rhythm. It is no wonder people speak of states of bliss and levels of relaxation never before imagined.

Specific therapeutic effects noted by receivers, include increased mobility and flexibility, muscle relaxation, fuller deeper breathing, reduction in anxiety and stress levels, decreased pain, improved sleep and digestion and a general sense of well-being.

Each person’s experience is unique and varied, for many the focus will be on the physical effects of letting go, relaxing, the gentle full body stretches, freeing the spine and joints. Others might experience emotions, new personal insights and/or resurfacing of old memories. Many receivers will remark on the deep sense of beauty, or lightness, ease and grace experienced during their Watsu; or a sense of nurturing, safety, relaxation, maybe at a level never felt before or remembered from ‘long ago’. The way Watsu is experienced is as varied as individuals themselves and so there is no right or wrong way to receive, practitioners do not ‘push’ any particular aspect, but simply listen and allow and support whatever the receivers experience is in any particular session.