Watsu is
  • Therapy
    Watsu alleviates a multitude of conditions, particularly those related to stress and/or isolation;
  • Bodywork
    Having our body treated as a whole activates our self healing;
  • Personal Growth (for both the holder and the held)
    All three appear to some degree in every Watsu. The Watsu Round adds a fourth:
  • Community
    Sharing and helping each other learn in threes deepens our connection.
The Watsu Round
Float each other in the knowledge that we are all connected. Peace and Joy. Take turns as the holder, the held and the helper whose oversight frees the holder to explore, eyes closed, the depth of that connection. There are four training rounds, each ninety-minutes in the pool. In the first the Waterbreath Dance that connects us through the breath in every Watsu session is followed by the powerful Tandem Watsu closure in which two of us stretch and hold someone between us. The subsequent training rounds add additional Basic Watsu moves between that opening and closure. Each is complete in itself. The first is offered by itself to guests in spas. The four are offered one at a time to members of a gym where they are welcomed compliments to their exercise regime. The first two are combined in our four hour Watsu Round class that is for everybody, the second two in our four hour Expanded Watsu Round.
Take turns in Watsu Round's three roles:
  1. The Held. Eyes closed, surrender to the water. Enjoy being taken through Watsu's powerful moves timed to your breath. Access every level of your being as your body is unconditionally held and moved as a whole. After being held from each side with the moves that open every Watsu, enjoy being held between the two in the moves that conclude every Tandem Watsu. Be gently leaned back at the wall, a hand on each of your heart gates**, their other hands holding your hands to their heart centers. Three become one.
  2. The Holder. Once you have connected to the breath, close your eyes. Let the water do everything. Drop into the emptiness at the bottom of the breath. Be drawn up out of it each time the one in your arms gets lighter, establishing the rhythm of the moves and stretches to come. When those moves take you beyond the breath, stop. Hold their body gates** pressed between your shoulder and hand until releasing it frees the movement of water as a continuum that engages your whole being.
  3. The Helper. Hold the Hara of the one held to help the holder use all his senses to connect to the breath. When the Holder closes his eyes, slip your hands away. Oversee the holder's moves, mirroring them, and the breathing, and the continuum, and the freedom, and the peace, in your own body. Three become one.
*Hara. This area around the body center in Japan, has a major role in the Zen Shiatsu that Harold Dull brought into the water as he was developing Watsu. This, and the engagement with the gates, takes Watsu into a realm beyond that of a relaxation technique.
** Gates. In India, Harold was told that parts of the body he was repeatedly drawn to were considered gates where the spirit enters. In some traditions these are considered the four corners, the places in the foetus where the arms and legs develop out of (the legs that connect us to the earth and the arms that reach out to others). Harold named those in the corners of the chest, where the lung meridians originate, the Heart Gates, and those at the hips, the Body Gates. He found that while keeping a tight hold of the body gates between his shoulder and hand, he became aware of how close the one he floated in stillness was to his heart. If we hold long enough, the letting go is a dam bursting, out of which a river draws us into a continuum of movement as water that engages our whole body.
Individuals, couples and groups of three are all welcomed to our rounds. Most Basic Watsu classes begin with the Watsu Round. The complete Watsu round and Tantsuyoga (Watsu on Land) are combined in Watsuyoga, a perfect weekend for families and teams. Whatever is learned can be shared again and again. Instructions for introducing the Watsu Round to friends while joining them are included in the seventh edition of Watsu Basic and Explorer Path.

Benefits of Learning in Rounds

Learning in Rounds has proven to establish a supportive environment that enhances learning in various ways: by Paul Rich
  • Setting a Good Tone: From the onset, Rounds' participants experience learning Watsu as a joyful and supportive experience, with kindness and compassion.
  • Developing Rapport, Having Fun, and Providing Mutual Support: Group dynamics of Rounds enhance the ability to develop good rapport, promote a sense of fun and playfulness, promote curiosity and opportunity to get to know each other, and provide mutual support through feeling of inclusion and wellbeing.
  • Healthy Social Dynamics: Rounds, by their nature, with groups of three, help ensure that everybody feels included and able to participate; prevents undesirable social dynamics such as formation of cliches, awkward pairings, and being left out; prevents concerns about paired intimacy; and generally promotes feelings of safety, relaxation, and being supportive as the initial Watsu experience.
  • Enhancing Learning: By their nature, Rounds provide a natural way of learning, through a cooperative rather than competitive environment, opportunity to learn by receiving, giving, and observing, as well as by being guided verbally and practicing in silence, plenty of repetition without tedium, experiencing with eyes closed and open, and plenty of time for integration.
  • Accommodating Individual Needs: Individual learning style is supported, with opportunities to learn by hearing, seeing, doing, experiencing, being guided, figuring out on one's one, being part of both a larger group and more intimate smaller group.
  • Preparing for Working in Pairs: By learning initially in groups of threes, in every combination of receiving, giving, and helping, participants build a solid foundation concerning Watsu's basic moves, develop a supportive social context; and generally prepare for later possibilities of working in pairs, in a way that feels safe and natural.

Watsu should always be first learned from a qualified instructor who will train you in the body mechanics needed for your well being as well as that of the one in your arms. Find all the authorized upcoming classes here.
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