Why did you choose to learn Shiatsu?
I chose to learn Shiatsu many years after first receiving Shiatsu at a music festival, the effect of subsequent sessions had such a profound impact on my health and wellbeing that it spiked my interest to discover more.
How has Shiatsu changed your life?
The self-care and development necessary to practice Shiatsu has changed and improved many aspects of my life. Navigating Fatherhood and the passing of both my parents in particular, were periods in my life where Shiatsu offered the support and knowledge to trust in the natural processes at play.
Interacting with my environment through a 5 element lens was a real ‘eureka’ moment for me during my training. I have felt a strong connection with the seasons and the natural world since early childhood, so the validation of these feelings was a life affirming moment.
The raising of my awareness towards energy fields and increased empathy towards other people, are definitely the most notable changes that continue to influence my life now.
Which Shiatsu teachers have inspired you?
All of them of course!
I have been fortunate to have trained at both the British School of Shiatsu in London and the Shiatsu College in Norwich. At the British School, Gill Hattersley introduced me to Shin Tai Shiatsu and the work of Saul Goodman, I am inspired and grateful to both of them for laying down the foundation of my Shiatsu. Adam Hellinger always inspired me with his ability to create a spacious and warm learning bubble, where understanding came at your own pace. Bill Commerford never failed to inspire me with his vast knowledge and sense of detail that was always delivered with joy and humour. Tracy Krikler cemented and honed my skills as they developed and continues to inspire and support me with my Shiatsu today.
At the Shiatsu College Dinah John offered a level of support and honesty that inspired me to develop my practical abilities beyond my comfort zone. Her generous and uplifting spirit often nurtured any crisis of confidence and her guidance has developed my ability to trust and believe in the process of Shiatsu. Cliff Andrews inspired, challenged, supported and stretched my capabilities throughout my training. I graduated from the Shiatsu College feeling well equipped to tread my own Shiatsu path.
What other practices support and are a part of your Shiatsu Practice?
I practice Zhan Zhuang Chi Kung as regularly as I can, especially when I feel out of balance or ungrounded before giving a Shiatsu session. To support clients and myself I use Meridian exercises for self-healing as illustrated by Ilchi Lee. Primarily for my own wellbeing I have been practicing Yoga/Meditation and Breathing exercises for 25 years, which I often share with my clients.
How has your practice changed in recent years?
My practice has always expanded and contracted in response to changing client numbers. I initially started my practice as a full-time practitioner working from home, in a therapy centre and by visiting clients in their homes. But as my circumstances changed, I soon realised I was going to need a flexible attitude to sustain a successful Shiatsu practice in the long term.
Post pandemic I have been determined to continue giving Shiatsu and so accepted the need to respond positively to the reality of less clients. By taking on an early morning cleaning job through the winter, the financial pressure lifted and my sense of purpose was restored. This enabled me to continue giving expansive Shiatsu and retain a philosophical outlook on the future of my practice.
Presently my wife and I are downsizing and relocating to Derbyshire. By reframing how I perceive my Shiatsu practice, I am optimistic about starting over and excited at the prospect of reaching out with Shiatsu to establish our place in a new community.
Are there any areas or client groups you have particularly focused on working with, and if so why?
I haven’t intentionally focussed on any particular groups, but I have enjoyed working with conditions such as stroke, PTSD and age related illness.
Do you have any tips for new practitioners setting up their practice?
I think it depends on the individual, but I would say be realistic about the number of clients you hope to attract, especially if you’re relying on a regular income from Shiatsu alone. Get yourself known locally by attending fairs and community initiatives, put posters up in shops and carry business cards with you. Contact your council, many are now promoting wellbeing services. Think carefully about the type of clientele you hope to attract before advertising and marketing yourself.
How do you promote your practice?
I have used all the usual social media platforms, a website and a google business page, which have all generated more clients over time. However, word of mouth, recommendations and a sign outside my house have been the most successful ways of promoting my Shiatsu practice!
Where would you like your Shiatsu to develop in the future?
I want to develop my style of Shiatsu to be sustainable, so that I can continue to give effective sessions for as long as possible. More specifically I’d like to focus on how Shiatsu can support the ageing process at different periods in people’s lives.
Find out more about Alan