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Learn the Art of Massage this Valentine's Day

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Looking for a gift idea for that special someone this Valentine’s Day?  Learn the art of Shiatsu and Thai massage to ease discomfort, enhance flexibility and induce relaxation with your partner.

St. Mary’s Hospital offers a Shiatsu and Thai Massage for Partners class on Feb. 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. for $50 per couple.  Christine Schmitthenner, a licensed massage therapist, instructs the class.  Here is what she has to say about the ancient practices of Shiatsu and Thai massage.

Q: What is Shiatsu and Thai massage?

A: Shiatsu is a form of Japanese acupressure and is based on the same theory as acupuncture. Energy flows through our bodies along channels, called meridians. Shiatsu helps to open up the flow of energy and release blockages in the flow of energy along the channels.
Thai massage is a form of bodywork similar to Shiatsu and involves putting the client into various positions, many of which are yoga positions. The benefit is similar to Shiatsu.
Both practices are done on a floor mat with the recipient fully clothed.
The practitioner uses his or her hands and feet to apply the acupressure or Thai massage.  Advanced Shiatsu and Thai massage can be used to treat specific problems.

Q: What are these “blockages” and how will the person feel as a result of breaking up the blockages?

A: In a healthy person, the energy flows freely along the meridians (energy channels).  Pain and other problems can result from a blockage of the energy flow — this can occur from tension, stress or other causes.  A person receiving Shiatsu or Thai massage may have a sense of feeling lighter after receiving the therapy.

Q: How long have you been a certified massage therapist and how and why did you get involved with Shiatsu and Thai massage?

A: I have been a certified massage therapist since 1993. I currently hold a massage therapy license in Maryland. (Maryland just began to license massage therapists in October 2008). I learned basic Shiatsu training because I feel great anytime I receive a Shiatsu treatment and wanted to learn to help others feel the same way. 
I was fascinated when I first saw a demonstration of Thai massage.  Because of my interest in yoga, I felt drawn to learn Thai massage, which integrates yoga positions.  I am not an advanced practitioner of either Shiatsu or Thai massage, so if someone is in need of advanced practice of either of these therapies, I would refer them to a practitioner with advanced training.

Q: What does the Shiatsu and Thai Massage for Partners program consist of?

A: The workshop will teach basic Shiatsu and Thai massage techniques, which will release tension, help with relaxation, relieve minor discomforts and enhance a general sense of wellbeing.

Q: How do people attend the class and what do they bring?

A: If you are interested in participating, contact St. Mary’s Hospital’s Health Connections at (301) 475-6019 to register.  Those attending should dress in flexible clothing and bring floor padding and a hand towel.  The class is held in the hospital’s Health Connections building.

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