Shiatsu Therapy and The Abdomen  (The Hara)

What is the Hara?    

Why in Shiatsu therapy does the therapist often start your treatment by feeling your abdominal region or focusing in that region? Ancient Asian cultures believe the shape of one’s Hara tells about the character and condition of a person.

Yellow markings are reflex zones for the organs.


In Japan, the concept of Hara is much larger than the simple idea of the abdomen or the belly.

The abdomen is more than just the physical center in which the organs reside. It is the energetic center from which life springs. Understanding this is central to promoting the well being of the person. Thus, diagnosing and treating the Hara is central to the practice of Shiatsu Therapy.

In Shiatsu theory imbalances in the body are caused on an organ level by external or internal reasons. External could be weather, viruses, and accidents. Internal can be food, emotions and thoughts. The imbalances block the flow of energy in the meridians or channels that are associated with the organs. The result is physical symptoms in different areas of the body.

With practice and experience the Shiatsu therapist develops the sensitivity to detect which organs are out of balance and what channels need to be stimulated to create more balance.

Shiatsu and Hara

For diagnosis, abdominal palpation is the primary technique used. The diagnosis is primarily aimed at determining which organs and their related meridians (channels) are out of balance. After the shiatsu session at the end of the treatment, the abdominal diagnosis is performed again to ascertain improvements that have occurred.

Working on the Hara can affect other parts of the body, as the roots of many symptoms are emotional and psychological

Energetic zones corresponding to the organs


Here are some of the problems that can be helped with regular Hara work:

  • Indigestion,
  • Diarrhea
  • Gallbladder pain
  • Acid Reflux
  • Cramps
  • Constipation
  • Lower back pain
  • Lack of circulation
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Bloating and gas
  • Emotional repression
  • Trauma

And much more.

People have always said the eyes are the windows to the soul, from my 11years of practice experience I have to say it’s the Hara that tells everything. Sometimes therapists can sense/see memories, current issues, and feel the emotional state that the person is in. I love working on the Hara it’s a direct connection to the essence of the person and a therapeutic connection between the practitioner and the patient.

In Shiatsu the connection is the most important aspect and the relationship that develops is sacred!

To conclude everyone needs their tummy rubbed.

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