One of my Spanish students, Inaki Calvo. has published an interview with me on his Spanish blog. Si quiere leer un entrevista con mi en espanol acqui esta el vincolo
Here is the text in English
How did you get into shiatsu for pregnancy?
My main motivation was my first pregnancy in 1989. At that time I was just establishing myself as a shiatsu practitioner having completed my shiatsu training in 1988. I was assisting my teacher Sonia Moriceau. She supported me with shiatsu sessions but I felt that I wanted to understand a lot more about it. There were no shiatsu teachers specialising in pregnancy at the time and so I decided to go to Boston, US to study with an obstetric physiotherapist, Elizabeth Noble to understand more. She was specialising in Exercise in pregnancy and was pioneering this field. This helped me be in tune with what exercise I needed to do for myself. I had a wonderful pregnancy and birth and felt that shiatsu had been a powerful part of that. I set up Well Mother classes using exercise as a starting point but also teaching baby shiatsu using my daughter as my model and running birth preparation classes with my partner to share what we had found useful during my birth. These classes were extremely popular and I started working more with midwives. I ran many weekly classes for 12 years in Bristol and deepened the work during my second pregnancy as well as learning from all the women I worked with.
During your career you’ve become the main reference for shiatsu for pregnancy. Which phases would you underline in your career. I mean, which have been your main discoveries and areas of work during your career?
Firstly I learnt a lot by working with women during their pregnancies over the weeks and understanding the importance of exercises. This has always been a fundamental aspect of my work. I attended quite a few births during that period and worked with many birth partners : this gave me a different understanding of how to use shiatsu: it is completely different giving shiatsu during labour, when a woman is moving around and having contractions. And finally I began to discover a new energy which I had not been taught in my intial shiatsu training and through researching it more I realised this was the Jing or Essence. This led me to work much more with the Extraordinary vessels and directly with the energies of the uterus itself. Working with babies and children also influenced my approach.
What can a pregnant woman get from shiatsu? Which are the possible benefits for her?
There are so many. On a very simple level I find it is one of the most effective ways of dealing with most of the common complaints of pregnancy, such as sickness, backache swelling. It also aids postnatal recovery and supports breastfeeding. However it is also very important for supporting the mother to be more aware and confident with the changes in her body and also to be more connected to her baby on both an emotional and physical level. It also helps support the mother in her journey and to understand the emotional changes which she is going through. Even in more difficult pregnancies, which may be more medicalised, shiatsu can still support the mother and baby to process all that is happening and to help them in their journey. Essentially for me it is about supporting her to be present with all the changes!
Are there any risks? I find that many therapists are very concerned with the so called “forbidden points”. What would you tell them?
I am really convinced that there are no risks and I say this from the heart, after many years of working with pregnant women. All we can ever do in shiatsu is to support the body to function in the most optimal way. How can this ever be harmful? That is not to say that things like miscarriage happen but shiatsu can not cause that: it is due to complex issues to do with the mother and baby health. I think that a lot of the fear comes from not really understanding what is going on in a pregnant woman’s body.
The extraordinary vessels, specially Chong Mai and Dai Mai, have a protagonist role in your teaching. Why? Do the 12 meridians somehow fall short ?
Because the 12 meridians do not have such a direct connection with the uterus or the brain which are pretty fundamental organs. The 12 meridians are of course important and can be worked alongside the Ex Vessels but they regulate more specific aspects of energy. The underlying changes are regulated by the Ex Vessels: which are the overall regulators. On one level we could say that part of what they regulate is the hormonal changes in pregnancy. Furthermore due to their connection with ancestral energy the Ex Vessels are much more powerful in supporting the changing relationships within the family which happen when a new life begins. The energy of the Ex vessels is essentially the most fundamental of all the energies: it exists at the moment of conception.
During the three trimesters of their pregnancy women undergo deep and quick changes. They have different needs during each of the trimesters. Could you give us some basic advice to treat women in each trimester?
First trimester is most delicate in that the baby is forming physically, and emotionally. It is the most unstable and we need to support gathering of energy. Of course some women feel wonderful in the first trimester but often women need a bit more support to assimilate the changes. Work with Ex Vessels is particularly relevant at this stage as they work directly with these changes.
Second trimester is usually a more settled trimester and women generally feel well. Here they can be supported to be fit and well emotionally and physically to prepare for the greater demands of the last trimester. Often they will want more physical work and stretches.
Third trimester: if a woman has looked after herself well in the second trimester she can still feel well even right up till the end. However it is about recognising that the body is working very hard and the mother will need to slow down a little.
Pregnant women are very controlled by their doctors during their pregnancy but many feel abandoned by them after giving birth. Should the postpartum be given more importance? What do you recommend to your clients for this part of the cycle?
Yes I am glad that you mention this. It is often neglected. It is possibly even more important because women often tend to put themselves second to their baby and can end up neglecting themselves.. I always offer to my clients that I will do home visits in the first month as I want to support them to stay at home and get to know their baby ….this is one of the best ways for supporting breastfeeding.
What are you working at right now? Any new interests or discoveries?
I’m deepening my work with the Ex Vessels. I am working on a book about this. How do meridians develop? What are they all about. However not just in a theoretical way but in a poetic way. Life as a journey. What is this journey all about. I am also exploring a lot more with the preconception time.. even before. Why we are here/ what life is about. These were always questions I asked even before doing shiatsu and with all my work with babies I am drawn to asking what is this all about? So really taking my understandings which I have developed by working so much with the beginning of our lives to help us understand more about our lives..