We caught up with Dan Smith, Shiatsu practitioner and owner of the innovative Shiatsu Bus, Derbyshire. Dan brings Shiatsu therapy directly to people's doorsteps in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, providing a mobile Shiatsu service. We couldn't wait to find out more!
I began my Shiatsu studies at the Northern School in Sheffield in 2014 principally under the very qualified guidance of Carol Dean. I had the good fortune to also be taught by Lisa Esmond, Annette Lucas, and Elaine Liechti to all of whom I owe an immense debt of gratitude for introducing me to the wonderful benefits of Shiatsu. Each teacher bought their own style and approach to the classes and I left the school with a firm foundation in Zen Shiatsu and the principles of TCM. Since graduating in 2017 I have deepened my practice with further study of Shin Tai via online courses with Saul Goodman and have gained particular benefit from his course Shiatsu of the Masters which focuses on what he learned under the tutelage of Shizuto Masunaga, who of course most notably established the practice of Zen Shiatsu in the West in the 1970’s. What I have found most fascinating in studying this course in particular is learning how Masunaga researched the ancient roots of Shiatsu and brought together techniques from many forms of bodywork practices and disciplines that bring such practical benefit to both the giver and receiver in a session.
I established my own practice in 2015 while in my second year of training, from my spare room at home in Matlockin the heart of the Peak District. In 2018 I came up with the idea of The Shiatsu Bus and set about converting a van into a mobile Shiatsu clinic. Since then I have been steadily growing a client base that covers Derbyshire and North Nottinghamshire and have enjoyed every minute of the journey although it has been challenging at times.
Some of the obstacles I have faced include demystifying what Shiatsu actually is and in particular the way in which I deliver my service, an issue familiar to most if not all practitioners who have chosen to make a career out of Shiatsu. I have found that promoting the concept of a mobile service that takes place inside a vehicle is best done visually so I work hard with marketing my practice through the mediums of photography and video. Overcoming these challenges is a long-term project, perhaps a lifetime work, but I have had some success and my practice continues to grow steadily as I make improvements to my visual marketing which I feel has been the key to conveying this unique concept of a mobile therapy van to the general public.
I think one of the main benefits to my clients is the convenience factor that the Bus provides because rather than taking the time to visit a clinic I turn up at their house and within an hour they are free to return to their day feeling relaxed, refreshed and more pain free. The service has worked particularly well for those who work from home, have very busy schedules, or who have mobility issues that make visiting a therapist more difficult.
Where food meets Shiatsu
Having a background as a chef I continue to enjoy writing a food blog that discusses the food energetics of the recipes I prepare onboard the Bus. During the build, I installed a full-sized wood-burning stove which I use to heat the van in the winter months and prepare food at locations around the Peak District. This has allowed me to combine my passion for cookery and interest in food energetics to promote The Shiatsu Bus in another way.
Having the Bus also allows me to attend events such as festivals and corporate wellbeing days. My plans for the future include promoting my service in the corporate setting because the Bus provides a convenient solution to businesses that value employee well-being but don’t necessarily have the space within the office to have a therapist come in to do treatments. As well as continuing to grow my private practice and promote Shiatsu in general, I am also planning on becoming involved with a local charity called the Chatsworth Wellbeing Centre which runs a community-focused project that aims to make complementary therapies more widely available to people in more deprived areas.
In general, I am excited to see what the future holds and am looking forward to doing my part in promoting Shiatsu and helping it to gain the recognition it deserves as a powerful and effective therapy for people suffering from all sorts of conditions who don’t necessarily find that Western Medicine offers them the solutions they desire. I continue to feel deeply privileged to be part of such a movement and be able to practice this wonderful healing art.