Shiatsudo Blog

Les Secrets Des Immortels

The small amount of Taoism I’ve been exposed to is through Serge Augier, and it’s always practical in nature. He gives exercises to take away and train, be they movement or meditation, the explanations are always simple and precise. There isn’t a lot of hand waving or mystery, only exercises and your practice.

Serge has been training for a very long time in Traditional Chinese Martial Arts, Taoism and Chinese Medicine. He has released a few books recently, covering various aspects of the tradition that he has been trained in – Yi Jing, a book about herbs and a book on Taoism. Le Secret Des Immortels is his book on the system of Taoism that he has inherited – the Natural School.

Serge’s book is, like his teaching, filled with the practical. Unfortunately, my French is atrocious, but with a dictionary and some time, I’ve coaxed a little of this book out for myself.

There are 8 sections in the book, covering the 8 principles which make up the “secrets” of the legendary Taoist immortals. The practical advice covers everything from how much time to practice through to physical practice, posture and grounding, through to emotional work like facing your fears. The book is peppered with anecdotes from Serge’s own practice which spans over 30 years now.

At the end of the day, this is a book dedicated to encourage a daily practice in your life. It offers up exercises to actually train, rather than simply talk about. It’s a good book, and Serge’s advice is simple – if you do the exercises, they will work. If only it were in English

You can read a bit more about Serge’s various books on his website Secret Des Immortels.

How To Give a Shiatsu Massage for Beginners

Everyone has it within their hands to give a simple shiatsu massage. There are a number of good books that introduce shiatsu and will take you through some simple shiatsu sequences that you can learn and use. I find a lot of the books on shiatsu are aimed at the practitioner though, rather than the layman. Often, the books go into too much detail about meridians and tsubos and other bits of Chinese Medical theory and people miss out on the important fact that massage is about doing! Of course the books need to contain additional information - nobody would be happy to buy a book that only had a few pages and contained some very simple instructions - lucky you came across this blog post then eh? :) Shiatsu can be absolutely sublime in the hands of an experienced practitioner. Shiatsu can involve a great many techniques and various stretches, and it can take someone years to become familiar with the best way to support the receiver and the best way to move around the body. And that can elevate a shiatsu from good to great to fantastic. But, I think it is in everyone’s grasp to give a good simple shiatsu to their family or friends. You won’t be doing any hara diagnosis or looking at someone from a five element theory point of veiw or even learning a good old TCM diagnosis. Instead, you can learn a few simple techniques that can help soothe aching backs or necks and leave your friends and family calm and relaxed. The trick is, I think, not to be afraid of the body! Shiatsu is a wonderful way of getting back in touch with our bodies - especially when we live reasonably sedentary lives. Some simple ideas to keep in mind while you try this:

  • Keep aware of your hara or centre.
  • Keep in mind that shiatsu is about connection - try to feel both your hands all the time and feel how they connect to each other through the receiver’s body.
  • Remember to keep one hand active and one hand passive. Don’t move both hands at the same time.

Now, with that in mind, get down on the ground on your hands and knees. It helps to have a soft surface - a few yoga mats piled on top of each other or a futon or something similar. Scan through your body, making sure nothing is overly tense. You want a state of tonus but not tension. Keep your back straight, extend from the tip of your head through your spine and coccyx. Get your weight evenly distributed between your hands and knees. You can flex your toes so the top of your foot comes towards your shin (dorsiflexion) so that the balls of your feet are lightly touching the ground to help move your weight around. Got that? Great! Now simply move your weight about a bit. Move it forward and back - more onto your hands, then more onto your knees. Keep your back straight. Don’t concentrate too hard. Relax. It’s easy. Move your weight left and right. Get a feel for when you are off balance and when you are not. Relax into gravity. Now the real fun bit, come back to the centre and then push with one hand so your weight shifts diagonally onto the opposite knee. Push back from the knee to the hand and come back to the centre. Now do the other side. Cool? Great now do the same thing, say we push with the left hand and our weight shifts to the right knee, move your intent into your right knee and push forward so you move your weight onto your right hand, no use your right hand to shift your weight to your left knee and then the left knee to move you to your left hand. Keep going, tracing nice figure of eights of like this for a while, then reverse the direction - start by pushing with the right knee into the left hand left hand to left knee, left knee to right hand and right hand to right knee. Now mix it up go any direction from anywhere. Take a break. How was that? Fun? Great. You’ve just learned the basics of shiatsu. Let’s extend it a bit - follow the same patterns as above but now when you transfer weight off one limb, pick it up a bit and move it, put it down again and then transfer your weight again. Don’t be shy - after all, you don’t have anyone underneath your hands yet so play with this - move your hands a lot or a little, find when you are overextended and when you are all still connected. Great :) you’ve just given shiatsu to your floor! Well done! Not sure if it will help with that wonky floorboard, but if it does :) Ok, that’s enough for today, practice a bit and look out for part 2 when we transfer this onto an actual person.

Xing Yi Seminar with Serge Augier

A very good friend of mine is organising a Xing Yi seminar with Serge Augier from France. If anyone in the UK wants to attend, drop me an comment or email and I’ll pass the details on to you - It is taking place on the weekend of the 10th and 11th October 2009 in Bury St Edmunds near Cambridge. Serge has been training in the internal martial for over 30 years and is an excellent teacher. The seminar is going to cover Xing Yi’s five fists with the specific waigong and neigong exercises to develop fluidity and power from Serge’s branch of Chinese martial arts. Serge is also going to show specific Xing Yi organ and fascia strengthening exercises for health and how these relate to the five elements. Xing Yi, for those that don’t know, is one of the big three internal Chinese martial arts that has at it’s heart what are called the five fists - these are simplistically speaking, five principles of movement. Of course, because it is a Chinese martial art, the five fist relate to the five elements of Chinese medicine. If you can read French, Serge has a blog Urban Daoist. Don’t worry though, the seminar is in English :). Serge has given seminars in the UK for the last two years and they are always worth attending for the good training and good humour. If you have any interest in learning more about Xing Yi, come to the seminar drop me an email: info at shiatsudo dot co dot uk, or just leave me a comment here.