Swedish massage tackles your knots and muscles. But Shiatsu goes after that harder-to-reach stuff: your sluggish-alternately-frenetic energy. And that vaguely stressed-out and drained do-I-have-to-go-work feeling.
Shiatsu’s prowess over Swedish is even more pronounced in spring, when “there’s a sense that there’s an imbalance, stored toxins, and stagnation in the body” and restoring an energetic balance to your body is called for, says Shandoah Goldman, who, at 31, is a veritable Brooklyn sensei of the Japanese bodywork. Goldman started studying Shiatsu at just 17. As a Bennington College student, she would travel to NYC twice a month, while her peers were partying, to study at the legendary Ohashi Institute.
“A Shiatsu session with a spring detox focus can inspire renewed energy, clarity, direction, much like the blossoming of spring flowers,” she says.
The treatment takes place at Goldman’s adorable Park Slope apartment, which is so tidy and spare, you feel like you’ve closed your eyes and woken up in a Kyoto’s artist’s studio. It’s given fully clothed—she suggests you wear loose fitting yoga clothes—on a large futon.
After relaxing your muscles with stretches, Goldman uses her fingers, hands, and elbows to apply pressure to points where she senses a blockage. That’s the detoxing in action. Shiatsu is often viewed as the tough love (read: painful) sibling of Swedish massage. But in Goldman’s hands, the unblocking of chi (energy) didn’t hurt like a karate chop. It was more like a delicious yoga adjustment.
There were definitely moments when she hit a tender spot. But the I-know-this-is-good-for-me pain that often accompanies Chinese Tuina massage never came. And the flow of the massage and the energetic balancing lulled me into a savasana sleep state. I left feeling lighter and more limber—as if I’d done a yoga class followed by a two-hour massage.
Another bonus: When I started a three-day juice cleanse the next day, it wasn’t a struggle like previous fasts. I credit the shiatsu session for going three days without even a thought of iced coffee.
Rates: $100 for one hour at her studio; $125 for a housecall.
Well + Good discount: For the month of May, Well + Good readers get $20 off a 60-minute treatment at Goldman’s studio.
Shandoah Goldman, Park Slope, 646-671-7572, www.shiatsu.shandoahgoldman.com