Dr. Nicola Finley (Internist)
A Transformative Water Experience
Throughout history, many cultures have utilized water for its healing properties. Water can be therapeutic due to the temperature of the water, the flow of the water, and the mineral composition of a specific body of water. In particular, some people may decide to have a particular wellness experience by changing the temperature of the water. For example, people can explore cold showering or cold water plunges to enhance the immune system, muscles recovery, circulation and overall well-being. On the other end of the spectrum, others may take advantage of heated thermal water, such as natural hot springs, to promote good health, decrease pain and lower stress. In this case, the mineral composition of the thermal waters of natural hot springs may have therapeutic skin effects, such as decreasing inflammation of the skin. Indeed, soaking in natural hot springs may be soothing, and cold water plunges can be invigorating. What about a transformative water experience?
Water can be combined with other healing modalities to create a transformative experience, specifically combining water and massage. A noteworthy example of this is WATSU, a floating massage in warm water. The word WATSU is a combination of Water and Shiatsu. It involves massage, pressure on acupuncture points, movement in water and stretches while being buoyant in water. This experience is commonly offered in body temperature water at 95 degrees Fahrenheit and in shallow, chest deep water. In this warm water, the therapist holds the client and gently stretches his/her muscles as the water supports the client. This creates not only an immensely relaxing experience, but also it has the potential of alleviating pain and increasing mobility.
In addition, pregnant women have also enjoyed WATSU to augment well-being. In this particular group, the massage therapist often incorporates the imagery of the parallel experience of her baby floating in the womb with her experience of floating in the water during WATSU. As a result, this can create a unique joint experience that reinforces the connection of the mother with her baby. It’s not surprising that many pregnant who experience WATSU describe it as a special and meaningful experience.
In short, water experiences can be restorative, nurturing and relaxing. WATSU is one of many ways that water can be transformative. For many people around the world, water experiences continue to be a pathway for wellness.