Before there were shoes…there was nothing better than running across those soft, luscious, beautifully green blades of grass with nothing but your bare, naked feet.
Did you ever slosh those feet in a puddle of water and feel the mud squish up between your toes?
Ok, mud puddles weren’t your thing? How about shuffling through soft sand on the beach and getting one of nature’s best pedicures, while warming and exfoliating those playful peds? You didn’t forget what it felt like to walk without shoes did you?
Have you ever watched a toddler waddling through the house in nothing but a diaper, knowing that just minutes earlier they were fully dressed to go out? Ever notice that little ones that age are just dying to get out of those shoes seconds after they’re put on? I think they were on to something. So in honor of the beautiful and bare foot, I’m going primitive and will teach you a little something about barefoot massage or Ashiatsu.
Ashiatsu is a barefoot massage technique that comes from an ancient form of bodywork, with roots dating back thousands of years from cultures across India, Asia, Africa and the Pacific Rim. “Ashiatsu” is a Japanese word that literally means “foot pressure”.
Originating from Southern India, Ashiatsu massage has its’ roots dating as far back as the 12<sup>th</sup> century and was called “Chavutti Thirummal”. This technique had the “patient” lying prone on a mat while the practitioner held on to an overhead rope for balance. The practitioner used their feet to glide from one end of the body to the other. Thus, the evolution of Ashiatsu began.
From China and Japan to Tonga, Fiji and Hawaii, variations of barefoot massage have been found over the centuries. Practitioners have used everything from rope and bars, to stools and chairs, as tools for balance. “Patients” have been nude and fully clothed. They have been fully walked on and worked on with one foot at a time. They have lain on mats on the floor and now on massage tables. The Aah…shiatsu Bar Therapy is what I have learned to date, and oh what a wonderful massage it is!
With bars mounted to the ceiling and a stool at the head of the massage table, my balancing act begins. Sitting on the stool at the head of the table allows me to get deep in to the neck, shoulder and pectoral muscles, relieving common aches and pains from any job or hobby that has you slumping and slouching like a high school trouble-maker in detention.
With a couple of graceful tip-toes (minus the ballet shoes of course), I step into place to continue the fluid strokes of an artistic masterpiece. Gliding across the body from one end to the other, these feet hardly feel like feet at all. Working deeper and deeper into the layers of the muscles, the back…and then the front of the body, let go of their rigidness. The body that once carried tension like a tightly wound guitar string has now become in tune with itself.
A broad, deep pressure leaves you feeling grounded with the power of two flowing feet and without the sharp discomfort of elbows, knuckles or thumbs. The advantage of Ashiatsu is that it allows gravity to do the work, allowing my body weight to provide a depth unmatched by any other massage you’ve ever had. Intrigued? You should be.