21 and 22 March 2020, Zen Center, Athens

In my work I aim to settle into myself and be quiet with my client, whether it’s an adult or a child. I ask questions and work with Clean Language if I can, but children communicate in other ways. Inside I am as still as possible and this simplicity is the essence of the connection.

The French philosopher Comte-Sponville said: `Intelligence is the art of making complex things simpler, not the other way around’. From Guide to Buddhism A-Z

My first daughter was born (1992) during my Shiatsu training and so children and Shiatsu have always been closely linked in my work. After the birth of my second daughter in 1996, I started to teach Baby Shiatsu to groups of parents and work with young ones in my private practice. No-one was teaching the subject to Shiatsu practitioners at that time, so I got hold of the books which were recommended to me by Suzanne Yates and developed my own style as I went along. It was based on sound Shiatsu practice gleaned from my clients over the previous seven years and being with my own children.

‘The most prevalent kind of sensory stimulation throughout prenatal life is tactile. The amniotic fluid and sac encasing the fetus provide an unborn baby with what amounts to an almost continuous soothing massage.’

Touch for Love by Wataru Ohashi with Mary Hoover

gabi baby shiatsu 3

As the years went by I learned traditional baby massage from colleagues, and was part of a local group organising classes, bringing Suzanne to Scotland and also working with baby massage luminaries such as Peter Walker. A lot of what I learned dervied from running the classes and the adults and parents who attended them.

The Child Knows!

Underpinning all my work is the belief that the child knows.The child innately inhabits her whole self, and if she is allowed to move freely, she will externally express what is going on inside, giving us clues to her healing process.

‘You need to be silent to see them, and they come and go as a silent gift.’

A Book of Silence, Sara Maitland

What is my job?

When I work with Shiatsu for children, my job is to:

  • Sense what the child is telling me
  • Interpret that using Shiatsu theory
  • Develop bodywork or games for the child and her carer

Why?

Shiatsu helps parents and carers get to know their children through touch, thereby developing mutual understanding. Most children are well, but as they grow they come across people who are not and this type of touch can help strengthen their immune system and prevent serious complications. If there are difficulties, Shiatsu can boost the parent or carer’s confidence in dealing with them in a natural way, suggesting techniques and treatment if needed. Many parents are nervous, fearing they may miss something or misunderstand the child’s needs. Ongoing Shiatsu means that they get to know about the healthy state on a regular basis and are therefore more likely to know when something is out of the ordinary and perhaps needs medical attention.

‘The movement repertoire that develops in the first year of life is a language in itself and conveys desires, intentions and emotions.’

The First Year and the Rest of Your Life, Ruella Frank

Natural Development

Watching my own two grow up and giving them Shiatsu; being with groups of parents and children; working one-to-one with little ones who had talipes, reflux, constipation, teething problems and insomnia; and doing experiential Feldenkrais exercises as part of my dance training; all helped me recognise the early human developmental patterns.

‘Before motivation of mind becomes effective a neural pathway for the physical enablement of this movement has to be established.’

Peter Walker

random baby shiatsu
Baby Shiatsu uses oil and strokes directly onto the skin, whereas for older children who are moving around, clothes are worn when receiving Shiatsu

Shiatsu and Children Workshop

If you attend the workshop, you will learn:

  • The difference between Shiatsu for adults and children
  • A basic routine to teach to parents who have very young babies
  • How to promote a safe and compassionate environment for parents and children to exchange Ki
  • To understand the common childhood ailments
  • To start to develop therapeutic skills to work in the clinic with a single child and adult
  • How to work on the adult for the benefit of the child
  • To develop games and exercises for the adult to play with the child at home

There will be a live demonstration of Shiatsu with children.

Together we will create a supportive and safe environment for finding ways to tap into our own inner child using early movement patterns. We will hone our acute observation skills, and through breathing, visualisation and other exercises, will gain added confidence in this field.

Once you can see what the child is telling or showing you, then you will be able to apply your instinct, understanding and theory for their benefit.

emma doing baby shiatsu

I am looking forward to sharing some of this with you in the workshop.

Panayiota Giannino is the host of this event and for booking information, she can be reached here or you can cut and paste this email address into your own email programme: p.giannino73@gmail.com

Influences

Snippets of training with key teachers including Bill Palmer and Karin Kalbanter-Wernicke, studing Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen in my 20s, reading Ruella Frank‘s work more recently, and especially working with my colleagues Audicia Morley and Cynthia Shuken has allowed me to put some words and theories to my hands-on experiences. Laban Movement Analysis and Shiatsu taught me to look, see and interpret. Resources and a book list will be circulated.