​10 Question Interview with Andrea Marsh of Shiatsu Bodyworks Cheltenham

1. What is Shiatsu and how is it relevant to the modern day man or woman? You mentioned benefits such as better sleep, easing of headaches - can you fill us in on some more things that are helped by Shiatsu treatment?

I think Shiatsu is a must in today's world as we're so emotionally bombarded everyday, this treatment would help us keep on top of things, and I want to spread the word about how beneficial it is to your mind and body health.

Anyone who's had a massage knows they feel great afterwards, but when you can finetune therapeutic/finger touch by using the Chinese Acu-points you can start to balance the whole bodymind, and create a calmer, clearer thinking, more fluid (and less achy) self. So when people ask what it's good for it​'​s not a cliche to say so many things, because so many of our everyday bodily aches and ailments, the anxieties we feel, and that life can overwhelm or stress us, all have the same route cause; it's just what avenues it takes through your body and how it manifests as symptoms.

I'm a person that catches it in my joints but I've learnt to ease this, relax more and calm down (I used to be very fiery, but that's a whole load of other stories!). For others it comes as IBS, or nervous anxiety, neck/shoulder tension and for heady people, they get.... headaches! Our bodies run on energy​; it should flow smoothly in an idea​l​ world, but as I say ​'the twists and torsions of life take their toll'​ and they do, so a regular Shiatsu treatment is about getting you back into shape mentally and physically, and then maintaining that, whatever life chucks at you... and when you have a wobble I'm here to support and strengthen those energies. Shiatsu just means 'finger pressure' in Japanese​ - it's what you do with it that counts!

2. What happens if a male client gets visibly aroused by the touch of massage? You mentioned you had a funny story to tell me but we never got round to it - can you tell me now in public?!

They should do... That's what we were taught, energy is flow, and we're dealing with blood, so put 2 and 2 together :)

We've learnt how to handle such a situation, but I flipped a chap over rather forcefully in training, so I'll have to be careful if it did happen in a treatment! Whilst training, I practiced on friends and in a very posh voice my friend went" ahem, I hope you don't mind that I got an erection during that treatment...​" and being in clinical mode I said " it's ok, I didn't notice" ... he was so upset! So again, I've learnt to be more diplomatic :)

3. I hear you also do Shiatsu on dogs. How do you get them to stay still?

That's an interesting one, I don't get them to stay still, it's whether they choose to, and that tells me a lot about their energy and potential ailments.

This is the difference between animals (and children) and adults - an adult will lie down on the futon and remain unmoving until otherwise told so.... I do prompt wriggling and jiggling to make sure you're comfortable though.

With a dog, they'll tell you where to touch, hide what they don't want fiddled with, and walk away when they've had enough. It's about gaining trust, and for many dogs this is a slow process​; trust and friendliness are doggie worlds apart. I'm seeing one little chap at the moment for a mystery gut issue and he's never been bothered about the treatments. Well, absence must make a heart grow fonder as after an extended period between treatments he couldn't get enough and just kept coming to me and sitting with his back to me (this is doggie speak for please do my back!)

I work with a dog's energy, nothing is ever forced and it's the quickest way to understanding how their energy is moving and how to help them.

4. Do you have a dog, and if so what does it get jealous when you're treating others?

Misty, my little Jack Russell, came to us as a 3rd home late in my training. She loved 'Ampuka', a heavy pressure on the belly region; she'd just had a hysterectomy so this made sense.

She enjoyed pressure and warmth, very indicative of feeling depleted and lacking in nourishment. If you like pressure on your achy shoulders or back then its very similar.

The problem with Misty now though is she's a Shiatsu junk​ie and assumes her position is curled up on the belly of whichever body happens to be receiving​,​ which means I can't have her around on client days. She can't handle closed doors due to her former home, but an open door policy in my house means she would stealthily crawl across the floor, completely ignoring my furious head shaking at her and launch onto an unsuspecting body!​

5. What age group does Shiatsu attract?

It tends to attract an older age group, 50s and 60s but really I would love to treat all age groups as the energy flows so differently throughout life. In our 30s/40s as aches/exhaustion/stress are hitting, people don't tend to respect their bodies and allow themselves the time for resting/receiving, as they say: 'if you're busy, meditate for 20 minutes everyday, and if you don't have the time, meditate for an hour!​ It's true, people push themselves until their bodies say 'no more​!​​'​ and I'd rather they took heed along the way; I drop subtle hints​.​ I may be unusual but thanks to my mum being open to therapies, it meant when I started at the age of 20 receiving a regular treatment it didn't seem weird and I haven't stopped. I receive Shiatsu once a month and wouldn't be without it, and I fully acknowledge I receive it as much for my mental health as physical creaks :)

6. Why did you give me a glass of water when I arrived?

It's the least I can do fluids wise; sometimes it'​s a nice fruity tea on a cold day​. The Shiatsu lifestyle philosophy is completely non-judgemental​- most of us drink alcohol, eat naughty things and I'm never going to say otherwise. But I do talk about food/drink in the terms of nourishment and the energetics of them. Very few of us take in enough fluids over the day, and this can result in headaches, getting too hot and hunger symptoms. The absolute basics of the energetics of food and drink is that I recommend never eating/drinking anything at a temperature cooler than room temp. It's amazing how people can halve IBS symptoms by this simple switch.

7. Where did you last go on holiday?

I'm a lazy traveller​!

To haul myself on a plane is too much like hard work when you only have one week off now and then. Also I love my dog and want to take her with me, so for me it​'​s the beautiful beaches around Britain; my personal favourites are Harlyn Bay in Cornwall and Oxwich Bay in The Gower. We've been to both so many times they're both 2nd homes and when the time is right in life, I will move or spend more time there... I'm still deciding which one!

8. Where is your favourite place to eat out in Cheltenham and what's your favourite dish to cook at home?

This may sound corny but my favourite place to eat is where ever I'm having a good natter with friends. Most of them aren't in the Cheltenham area​.

I met a friend from NYC in a little tea room in Marylebone on Monday, so have friends - will travel! But if there is anyone serving tapas with a good red I'm happy. The Shiatsu lifestyle very much revolves around food - as the 3 energetic nourishments (sources of Ki) in life are your constitution that you're born with, the air you breathe and the food you eat. When training in London we were a European group and our social life revolved around food - very much bring and share,​ bringing together Spanish, French and Portuguese meant for a very tasty meal. I'm known for knocking together a risotto, it's my chill out dish, I can chat at the same time, relax, and serve up something without stressing.

9. I know it's not polite to ask a woman her age, but how old are you, and at what age did you begin your Shiatsu journey?​​​​​​​​​​​​

​I never mind saying - 46, and my journey started 26 years ago, I just wish I'd got to it younger. I ​Shiatsu'd a 'Millennial' this week and just wished I'd had someone buy me a gift voucher when I was that age!

The start of my journey was a physical one​.​ I'd always put up with 'growing pains' from the age of about 5/6, but it was numbness that led me to therapies, as I knew this was more dangerous than pain. I'd had an accident ice skating and got to a point when I felt like I needed the loo every 5 minutes. I went for cranial osteopathy and met a therapist who was on a journey himself. Over 10 years it led into energetic treatments not for the physical but on some emotional level, neither of us understood it but I was in a very stressful career in media in London I knew it was helping. The Shiatsu part came about 15 years ago​.​

I was having something akin to ​migraines, my father had died, I was then a project manager in computer systems and stressed to the hilt and realised I needed something... I popped 'therapeutic massage' into the Scooch search engine (this was pre-Google!) and it came up with Shiatsu. I phoned the lady, I didn't know what to expect, but knew about Acupuncture (I don't do needles!) and went along. A complete change from the first treatment as my mind was ready for a change, and within 3 months I was on a 3 year practitioner course, I just 'found' what I wanted to do in life. In Eastern therapies there is no distinction between Mind and Body, they don't have psychotherapy, the 2 are not mutually exclusive, you can't separate them - and this is what I identified with. I always thought I would go and do a degree in Psychology in my 30s, but I found Shiatsu and Traditional Chinese Medicine and it surpassed the need for a degree in western terms.

10. I loved everything about my Shiatsu treatment and want others to experience it - do you do vouchers? If so is there a link to buy one? I have someone in mind already.

Yes, I do a great one called 'Relaxation and Revitalisation' Shiatsu - this is a chill out session, where you can switch off and enjoy, slightly different to the 'Shiatsu for Health' where we discuss more about what you want to achieve with regular Shiatsu. I have a glossy A5 gift voucher in an envelope so you have something nice to give on the day and when they attend as well as receiving a fantastic treatment, they'll get a little goodie to take away. Shiatsu is a unique and thoughtful gift idea; it allows you to really relax and have your body listened to, which is a powerful step on the road to optimum health and wellbeing.


I'm set up for card payments too!

It was great fun answering these questions, and I'm always really happy to chat to people about how this wonderful therapy could help them, so if you're tempted to give me a call, please do, there's no obligation to book, but you will leave the call with at least one suggestion to help you with whatever you've called for. Thanks for taking the time out to read!