Thursday, September 30, 2010

Experience Watsu

There is nothing more earthbound than a heavily pregnant woman. Waking or sleeping, she feels more and more weighed down as she slowly plods through the last weeks of pregnancy; her belly swollen with baby and amniotic fluid.

Now imagine the same woman stepping into a pool of warm water and floating, weightless. Her eyes are closed as light and shadows play across her eyelids. Her ears are submerged, so only muffled sounds can be heard. She is cradled in the supportive arms of another, who gently rocks her to and fro to the rhythm of her own breathing. The baby floats submerged within her womb in the warm, dark amniotic water, gently cradled within the mother’s pelvic bones. They are one, together, weightless and free. Their energy flows freely and all tension about the impending birth drifts away. The mother-to-be achieves a deep level of peaceful relaxation, entering an altered state; bliss. This is a state through which the journey of natural birth is much more possible. Floating somewhere between dreaming and wakefulness the mother-to-be feels her body gently letting go, stretching, lengthening, opening and releasing.

This is water massage, a unique form of bodywork also known as water shiatsu or Watsu. Invented in 1980 by Harold Dull, it combines elements of massage, joint mobilization, shiatsu, muscle stretching and dance. Its therapeutic benefits are for everyone and can bring new life into long neglected muscles, joints and ligaments.

As a birth professional I have witnessed the amazing benefits specifically for pregnant women. They go beyond relieving the typical aches and pains of carrying a baby to term. Watsu combines the deep breathing of the Bradley method, the trance state of Hybnobirthing and the gentle stretching of prenatal yoga within the weightlessness of water. Requiring no intellectual effort on the mother’s part water massage frees both her body and mind to prepare to birth confidently. As a doula, I have held many women in my arms during labor, so I find Harold Dull’s goal particularly poignant; “a world where everybody holds and floats each other in their arms.”

To experience this amazing technique connect with kinesiotherapist Kay Heaton:

To see prenatal Watsu for yourself visit:


  1. Jen H. wrote:
    "I love Watsu. My chiropractor used to do it at Club Kay in SLO. I loved her pool: no harsh pool chemicals, 98.6 degrees. Ahhhhh. "

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  3. Megan posted on facebook:
    "watsu is the best thing EVER!!! it's massage with the water, in the water- nothing more therapeutic!!"