Ashiatsu: What it is (and isn’t)

Maybe you have seen or heard the term “ashiatsu”.

Your massage therapist or spa started offering it, or a friend / family member recently raved about it.

You might be a massage therapist and have been hearing colleagues talk about the benefits of this technique for both you and your clients.

Whoever you are – you’re curious now, and you want to learn more about ashiatsu.

There are a few other modalities (massage techniques) people commonly confuse ashiatsu with. If it is not a Swedish, relaxation, or deep tissue massage, then what is it? Today, let’s clear this up and talk about somethings that ashiatsu is not.

Ashiatsu is not Reflexology

“Oh, ashiatsu. That is where they massage your feet, right? Yeah, I’ve had that before. My feet felt great afterwards.”

Tony Barrientez - ReflexologyReflexology is based on a theory that areas of the feet correspond to certain areas of the body. During a reflexology (or zone therapy) session, the practitioner applies pressure to specific points on the feet, hands, or ears. Reflexologists believe applying pressure to these specific points on the foot will bring physical change to the corresponding part of the body.

Ashiatsu is quite different. During an ashiatsu massage, the therapist uses their feet to massage the client. The feet are massaged too, but with the practitioners feet. With the exception of the face and stomach, the massage practitioner can use their feet anywhere they use their hands.
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Chavutti Thirumal – One Rope, Two Feet & Healing Oils

As you most likely know by now, Chavutti Thirumal is not widely practiced in the United States. Courses for massage practitioners to take in the United States are even more scarce. If you have ever thought about taking a course, plan on a trip to the UK (where it is practiced more so than in the US). Or, plan a trip to where Chavutti Thirumal (or Thirummal) all began (in India) for a few weeks. If you want to learn more about this modality before you fly half way around the world, there is one book you should have. [Read more…]

Ever Heard of Yumeiho?

Ever heard of Yumeiho?

Through my ashiatsu research over the years, I have frequently seen yumeiho listed as a relative to ashiatsu.   So, I set out to learn a little more about this practice.


“The main aim of the YUMEIHO® therapy is to correct the pelvic bones position and to set the vertebral column properly, and thus to mobilize the autotherapeutic forces of the organism and to reach the cause of pathological state.”   Source Link

There is a not a great deal of information available, but here are a few other things I learned:

I have seen that practice is most popular in Europe/Russia, although it originated in Japan.

I have not seen much for barefoot work in the videos, but the practitioner does use their whole body during the massage.  The recipient is clothed, on a floor mat, and put through a series of positions – much like a Thai massage session.

I see it listed sometimes as “yumeiho massage”, but I think something got lost in translation here. From videos I have seen and other information I have read, it involves a great deal of osseus (bone) manipulations, which I would think knocks it far out of the massage therapy scope of practice for any massage therapists in the US. It looks like a combination of a Thai massage and chiropractic adjustment on a floor mat.

Here is one video of a Yumeiho therapy:

So, while it appears the practice of yumeiho and ashiatsu are like that of third cousins twice removed, it is always nice to learn more about healing arts around the world.

Do you know of any Yumeiho practitioners in the US?

The Rossiter System

When I made the list of other barefoot massage resources, I failed to include one resource: Richard Rossiter’s – The Rossiter System. This is a two person connective tissue stretching system that uses some barefoot techniques to get people out of pain quickly!

Their website contains A LOT of information; too much to share in one blog post.  When you visit the website, it may take you a while to become familiar with all of the terms like Rossiter Workout, PIC (Person in Charge), or Rossiter Coach.

Here are a few highlights from his website that can help you learn more about The Rossiter System: (Rossiter for Massage Therapits) (Ohio AMTA)  (Massage & Bodywork Magazine)

Any Massage Therapist/ Rossiter Coaches out there willing to talk about how this system and how it has affected their practice? Anyone thinking about this training?

Barefoot Massage Modalities and Resources

Chavutti Thirumal

Chavutti Thirumal

Barefoot massage is more common than one might think. As you research barefoot massage more, you will find there are many different barefoot modalities, with long histories that are still being practiced today. Here are just a few great resources if you want to learn more about barefoot massage.

Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage
This is a course I designed for massage professionals who would like to learn ashiatsu safely at home. This is a thorough approach for beginners, but also a great study for experienced barefoot practitioners. It includes 160 page manual with photos, bar installation instructions, and embedded instructional videos.

Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy ™ AOBT
Ruthie Hardee is credited with the widespread recognition of ashiatsu. Only seminar courses are available.

Barefoot Masters Ahh Shiatsu™
Michelle Mace conducts ashiatsu seminars along with seminars in Fijian, bamboo, and stone massage.

Fijian Barefoot Massage (Second Website BarefootMassage)
Fijian massage uses no parallel bars. A chair or stool is used for sitting and balance. Clients may be clothed or unclothed.
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