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Adrian Cox
14 Sept 2021
The Role of Bodywork Therapy

Over the last couple of years we have had to adapt our routines, skills and social interactions. The lack of social interaction is one of the toughest, as humans we need to have physical contact this could be shaking hands, an arm on our shoulder or a hug. It is also necessary for us to be able to see facial expressions this has the ability to make us feel safe and connected with friends and strangers.

There is a highly regarded book by Stephen Porges, called 'The Polyvagal Theory', it is primarily about our nervous system and how it can affect our physical and mental state, (there are a lot of parallels with Shiatsu and TCM).


In the theory they use the term 'Biological Imperative', this is the innate part of all living organisms to protect and preserve its existence.

The Polyvagal theory uses this term in relation to the benefit of connectedness with other people, and if the interaction is co-regulated this will promote a healthy physical and psychological state.

The term biological imperative explains a small, but very important part of Shiatsu and other complementary therapies with their role in the healing process.

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When you feel as though you are in a place of safety, held by a loved one or a friend this can assist the downregulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) calming the involuntary physical part of you like you're heart rate, respiration and digestion so you're no longer in a state of high alert, fight/flight. This is one of the reasons why I feel that the biological imperative chimes well with Shiatsu in the healing process. It is the contact in the treatments that brings a level of reassurance, and engages the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), this creates the space for healing to begin and allow thoughts and ideas to arise in you, which could initiate a positive action. This could be along the lines of making a firm decision, finding a new direction that benefits your wellbeing, and appreciating self.

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