Glossary

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) originated from Taoist and Buddhist philosophy nearly 5000 years ago. A fundamental belief is that people are an intimate part of their environment who depend on it as much as they influence it. TCM is based on thousands of years of observations of people and their response to the environment. Long before knowledge of anatomy, TCM theory established its own framework to explain how the body functions; hence the meridian system, Qi, Yin Yang theory, the Five Elements, etc. The focus is on how to maintain harmony within the body and with the outside world.

Yin and Yang are two principle concepts that form the basis of TCM. Ideally all living things possess Yin and Yang in equal balance. This balance is not a static state, but a continual shifting and adjustment of one in relationship to the other. It is from this interaction that Qi arises and moves. The opposing qualities of Yin and Yang are complementary and interdependent. Things can only be Yin or Yang relative to each other. Nothing can be completely Yin or completely Yang. Relative to the sun, the moon is Yin, but the pale moonlight is Yang relative to the dark night.

The Five Elements refer the different vibrational qualities or transformations of Qi: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. It is the harmonious relationships between the Elements themselves that constitute our health and well being.

Qi is the vital life force or energy that animates all life and sustains all living things. Harmony of Qi within the body is essential to health. Qi arises from the interaction between Yin and Yang.

Meridians or energy channels are clearly defined paths of flowing Qi. When there is an even and smooth flow, the body is functioning well. If a channel becomes blocked or stagnant, flooded or with very little flow, the body will not function with ease. With hand and finger pressure along the meridians and directly on the acupoints Shiatsu treatments work to restore the smooth flow of Qi.

Acupoints are acupressure points along the meridians. They are openings into the channels – a direct access to the Qi. Physical and emotional tension can block Qi and distort or close the acupoints making them painful. During a Shiatsu session as the client becomes relaxed, these points open. The client feels comforted and supported when the appropriate points are pressed.

AOBTA - American Organization of Bodywork Therapies of Asia. This association grants professional certification to Shiatsu and Asian Bodywork Practitioners. www.aobta.org

NCCAOM - National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. This national organization certifies practitioners of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture, Asian Bodywork Therapy and Chinese Herbology. www.nccaom.org