History of Watsu

Watsu® History And Background Of Aquatic Bodywork

In the early 1980s Harold Dull, (director of the Harbin School of Shiatsu and Massage in northern California), began to apply the stretches and moves of Zen Shiatsu in warm water. In the years since, with the help of countless others in classes, clinics and spas around the world, Watsu has evolved into a leading edge Aquatic Therapy. It has also served as a source of inspiration and impetus for several other forms of water therapy, which have developed either along side or directly out of the ‘Watsu experience’. Three of the most prominent forms are Waterdance, Healing Dance, and Jahara Technique.

Waterdance or Wasser Tanzen (WATA) was developed by Arjana Brunschwiler and Aman Schroter in 1987. After being stretched and relaxed above water, the client is then given a nose plug and gradually and gently taken entirely under the water. Moves are timed with the breathing and incorporate elements of massage, Aikido-like moves, dolphin and snake-like waves, rolls, somersaults, inversions and dance.

Influenced by Trager and dance, Alexander Georgeakopoulos’ Healing Dance is a creative blend of both Watsu and Waterdance. It incorporates more dynamic stretches, spacious movements and dance-like elements, with a strong focus on flow, rhythm and 3 dimensional movements both above and under water.

Jahara Technique is a particularly peaceful and gentle form of Aquatic Therapy. Developed by Mario Jahara, it emphasizes support, including the use of flotation devices. Providing continual gentle traction, it stresses the importance of spinal alignment, gentle bodywork, muscular release and the concept of expansion.

Watsu and all the above therapies are represented by WABA: The Worldwide Aquatic Bodywork Association. This is an educational non-profit organization based in California. It is dedicated to making the benefits of both giving and receiving Aquatic Bodywork available to everybody. It maintains a worldwide Registry of students, practitioners and instructors.