The following was taken from a news feature about Hydro-Health and Watsu in the May 2005 Newport Advertiser. It includes the experiences of the reporter, Jule Wilson, who undertook a Watsu for the first time.
Text By: Jule Wilson. Pictures By: Malcolm Couzens.
Newport Advertiser May 2005:
"A Little Slice of Water Heaven"
Water Shiatsu [Watsu] therapy is celebrating its 25th anniversary and reporter, Jule Wilson, went to find out more about it.
Water Shiatsu therapy, or WATSU, uses the buoyancy and warmth of a small pool of water, combined with gentle body movements to encourage you to become relaxed and revitalised.
It combines water with the ancient oriental techniques used in Shiatsu, such as assisted stretching and the gentle application of pressure to certain key places in the body.
You don't even need to be able to swim because all the movements are done for you, in this case by Dawn Watts, one of only three qualified WATSU practitioners in the country.
Dawn uses a pool in the tranquil setting of a private house near the small hamlet of Bradley [near Stafford] which overlooks the Staffordshire countryside. She has studied WATSU extensively for four years and worked in water therapy for 16 years, evolving her skills in the area.
She said: "I've always been fascinated by the water and the benefits that can be explored by using it as a tool, such as a feeling of wellbeing and relief from the stresses and strains that the body acquires.
"I was lucky enough to study with Harold Dull, the founder of WATSU and it's important that practitioners work together to develop the technique and relate to the treatment by receiving it ourselves".
"The experience is truly unique to each client and is therefore very difficult to describe. It is always best to sample a WATSU yourself to understand what it's all about."
I certainly found this to be true, and not just part of the sales pitch. My treatment began amid a thunderstorm and I barely even noticed it. Dawn had been very careful to ensure that I was comfortable and calm, by explaining indepth what was involved. She had already done her homework as she doesn't treat anyone unless they have filled in a detailed health questionnaire.
She said: "A WATSU is not recommended for people with certain conditions and doesn't claim to offer any medical diagnosis or treatment. Although it can offer some benefits to many people, it is a form of aquatic bodywork and not a cure for illness or injury."
Dawn took my hands and I closed my eyes. She lay me horizontally in the water, carefully supporting my head and lower back before beginning to move me gently, using my limbs. Initially, it was a strange but not not at all unpleasant feeling. Within minutes though, it felt like the most natural sensation in the world.
At no point did my face enter the water and although it is quite an intimate experience, Dawn took such care to make sure I was always 100 per cent comfortable that I barely knew she was still there, carrying out the treatment.
I felt so streamlined and weightless, almost like I was dreaming and certainly like my body was designed to move through water. A synchronised swimmer or a fish would have been jealous as the whole effect was reached with no effort at all on my part, other than keeping an open mind.
Afterwards, I was very reluctant to open my eyes and re-enter normality but felt more awake and had more energy and a more positive outlook for days. I was also quite thirsty and needed the loo a lot for the rest of the day, as the treatment - like many other complementary therapies - opens up the glands that help to flush out the system.
Dawn will be taking part in anniversary celebrations in California where WATSU began, later this year.
She said: "I'm looking into becoming a WATSU instructor so that more people can benefit from it. Each part of my work satisfies another part of my character as it develops and I love trying new things and travelling. Hopefully, WATSU will attract the attention of the medical world soon and wecome more widespread and more popular."
Dawn's enthusiasm for her craft is infectious and no doubt she will help to make WATSU as well known and accessible in this country as aromatherapy or massage, so that anyone can sample a 46 minute slice of heaven, any time.
To contact Dawn for more information, call 07968 499893.