Shiatsu key concepts

Yin and Yang –  陰陽

The Yin-Yang concept derived from the observation of nature and the environment – the Chinese sign for Yin translates into “the shady side of the mountain”, and Yang into “the sunny side of the mountain”.

sunny-shady-MtShasta_aerialThe concept was used to explain the inter relationship of all phenomena in the universe. Yin and Yang are two complimentary forces; they are subject to permanent change. In TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) the Yin-Yang concept is used to explain complicated interactions in body functions.

In the Shiatsu context Yin refers to the dark, cold, passive and quiet qualities, whereas Yang refers to light, heat, movement related qualities.


Ki – 「き」

Ki is a term for our life energy. According to TCM, this energy stems from two sources: The first is Ying, the inherited and innate essential force with which we are born, the second source is our natural environment. We draw on this second source through our daily uptake of nutrition and breath, thus recharging our overall vital energy. Ki can also be influenced by intentions and thoughts, as well as through physical contact, for example during a Shiatsu treatment.



Resonance is the phenomenon of interaction between two vibrational fields. A common example are two guitar strings – if you strike one, the second will also begin to vibrate. resonanceIn a Shiatsu treatment resonance is an essential component: like all human interaction, the therapeutic encounter comprises contact as well as resonance between the patient’s and the therapists’s electromagnetic fields.



The Meridians form a kind of map on the body’s surface which helps the Shiatsu therapist to orientate and focus during treatment. According to TCM teachings the Meridians are pathways which distribute life energy throughout our body. In addition, they function as connectors between the inner organs and our skin.

chinese-characters-meridiansIt is therefore possible to influence the inner body via the Meridians – which is why eleven principle Meridians are called “lung-“, “large intestine-“, “heart-“, “pericadium-“, “small intestines-“,  “spleen-“, “stomach-“, “kidney-“, “bladder-“, “liver-” and “gall bladder-” meridian. The twelfth is termed “triple burner”; it does not correspond to an organ in the sense of Western medicine. In TCM it is considered to serve as a connector among the three energetic sections of the body found in its upper, middle and lower region.




For more information on the TCM concepts underlying Shiatsu, please visit