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A Guide to
Spa Immersion Therapy by Julie Hatfield
Watsu, I thought at first, might be an old Japanese treatment, but turns out it’s as American as a Frisbee game, begun by a Californian who thought the idea of shiatsu massage would be even nicer if done underwater, i.e. “Wat”(er) su. He was so right; I have never felt so open, fluid and free, as if my bones had turned to rubber, after Tanner invited me into one of the spa’s three swimming/soaking pools at their Waters of the World outdoor area. Tanner put his arm securely around my back, and proceeded to move me up, down and around in circles, sometimes squeezing my knees into my chest, many times pressing my coccyx up to the top of the water so that my legs and arms followed after, when they felt like it. Everything was underwater, including my ears, so that no sound but the deep gurgling waves of water, could
be heard. Even when I was part of a water ballet troupe in college, I had to use muscles and tighten my body to make the moves, so this was a completely different, free feeling of letting go that was better than a land massage because the legs and arms could float limply and easily throughout the process. Tanner says that while shiatsu and other land treatments work on the heart, helping circulation, Watsu is more beneficial to the cerebrum; i.e. your brain gets to lose stress and concomitantly the whole body relaxes. It didn’t hurt that the massage took place in The Spa at PGA’s warm mineral pool with salt crystals from the thermal waters of Salies de Bearn, France, which have been revitalizing people for 3000 years, toning the skin and relieving stress.
PGA NATIONAL RESORT & SPA