More than just relaxation…

Both Zen Shiatsu Bodywork and traditional massage therapy support the body as a system. Ever heard of the phrase, “The Body Keeps the Score”? While used clinically to explain how traumatic events become encoded in our bodies, it’s also true of how our bodies integrate everyday life. Our bodies spend an enormous amount of time and energy processing and supporting both emotional and physical tension and stress. Shiatsu and massage work on the fascial system (as well as muscles and joints) to release chronic patterns of tension, allowing the body to explore new tension-free patterns of movement and stillness.


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Zen Shiatsu Bodywork

trauma-informed bodywork  · neurodivergent friendly  · LGBTQIA/trans-affirming

Zen Shiatsu Bodywork (Shiatsu) is a Japanese form of bodywork that is based in Chinese Medicine and informed by Western Physiology and Psychology.  “Shiatsu” means “finger pressure;” pressure is applied by fingers, palms, and sometimes elbows and knees. 

Shiatsu Bodywork uses the meridian system used by Traditional and Classical Chinese Medicine–think acupuncture and acupressure! Shiatsu works directly into and between the fascia of the body–the tissues connecting our muscles, bones, sinews, and internal organs. By applying pressure on those points and channels and stretching the body, tension stored in the body is released.  While Shiatsu shares much in common with acupuncture, it can feel more accessible to some clients because it is practiced over clothing (no undressing!) and it doesn’t require the client feel comfortable around needles. Instead of needles, we use thumbs, palms, fingers, elbows, and knees. Sessions are performed on a futon on the floor. Shiatsu can be as firm or as gentle as the client needs. The main principle of Shiatsu Bodywork is to create space in the body for qi (blood, oxygen, “energy”) to flow and allow the body to return to it’s natural balanced state. Shiatsu bodywork additionally has the same benefits of traditional massage, including: pain reduction, stress reduction, nervous system regulation, sleep and digestive support, increased circulation and immune system function, and more.

Shiatsu Bodywork can additionally be good for folks looking for a “massage alternative.”

  • People who—due to  trauma, gender dysphoria, or body shame—don’t feel safe being unclothed.  Shiatsu is performed over clothing, which makes it more accessible for many folks who struggle with dysphoria or body shame, as well as sexual assault survivors and others healing from trauma. Kyren, as a nonbinary transperson and trauma survivor, understands that it can be difficult for some folks to feel safe in a therapeutic context. Their shiatsu practice centers consent and client autonomy.
  • People who are touch-sensitive, ticklish, highly sensitive, or easily overwhelmed by sensation, including many neurodivergent folks. Shiatsu can be as gentle or as firm as needed, which allows greater capacity for either deep pressure, or more gentle, but still highly effective therapeutic touch. If you have ever been told you’re “too sensitive” (either emotionally or physically), if you’ve ever received a form of massage or bodywork, or acupuncture and felt it too stimulating, or even painful, then Shiatsu might be the right modality for you.

Not sure if Shiatsu is right for you? Schedule a free 15 minute consultation with Kyren to learn more.


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Benefits of Shiatsu and Shiatsu-informed Massage

Physical level

Chronic Stress and tension impact all the systems of the body. Most clients begin to seek out massage and bodywork due to chronic pain, such as muscle and joint pain. However, few are unaware that chronic stress and tension impacts all the major systems of the body: digestion, cardiovascular, immunity, and the nervous system. What we experience as “stress” can manifest in symptoms as diverse as: chronic pain, insomnia, emotional dysregulation, constipation or diarrhea, frequent colds and flus, fatigue or low-energy, dysmenorrhea, anxiety or depression-like symptoms and more. Because all the major systems of the body are connected through and influenced by patterns of tension in the interconnective tissues (the fascial system or interstitium), regular bodywork sessions can benefit all the systems of the body.


The many physiological benefits of massage therapy are well-known. Additionally, Shiatsu Bodywork and Shiatsu-informed massage therapy specialize in nervous system regulation and support. Shiatsu encourages the parasympathetic nervous system (rest, digest, connection) to predominate, and allows the the sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, freeze, or fawn) to ease. This function is especially beneficial for trauma survivors, but also for anyone who routinely experiences overwhelm.


Emotional & Mental level

For the people who have tried everything else to support their physical wellbeing and have had little to no results, we check to see if—on a body level—whether physical symptoms may be arising from emotional and/or mental stagnation. This work is informed by our training in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

For this work it can be helpful to also see a psychotherapist and we are happy to to refer you to someone.

Our intake form helps us get a bigger picture of your health on a holistic level. The intake form includes questions about your physiological, emotional, and mental/cognitive symptoms that you may be experiencing in day to day life, in addition to your primary “complaint” or reason for seeking massage and bodywork.


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Which modality is right for me?

Shiatsu Bodywork is practiced fully-clothed and does not use oils or lotions (unless cupping or guasha is indicated). Shiatsu-informed massage is practiced unclothed and does use lotions and oils. Both modalities as we practice them at Culture of Safety move towards the same results. You may find a better fit with one or other practitioner based on personality, style (or schedule availability!). Whether you book with Kyren (Shiatsu) or Kristina (Massage), we work to support your overall wellness on the physical, emotional, and mental levels.

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