Jan Yourist

Class of 2018

What are your reflections looking back on your time at Zen Shiatsu Chicago?

"Though I started Zen Shiatsu study because of my fascination with Chinese medicine and culture and to deepen my Qigong and Tai Chi practice, once involved in the program, unexpected, transformative things began to happen. I began to change. Because of the emphasis on meditation and standing practice, I found myself becoming more fully present and expansive, better able to listen to others and to their bodies— critical qualities for a Zen Shiatsu therapist.

I became viscerally aware of the awesome power of touch and its capacity to nourish and heal. I also found myself feeling more whole and integrated, not only with the many disparate parts of myself, but also with the world around me— the spiritual and the physical more fully connected. I became filled with an abiding sense that we are all interdependent and interconnected, that the microcosm and macrocosm are simply reflections of each other.

I found a remarkably supportive, nurturing, focused, passionate, and inspired community of colleagues and teachers, committed to this meaningful practice of Zen Shiatsu and healing. The Zen Shiatsu journey is replete with creativity and an infinite depth of possibility and capacity, an empowerment for the practitioner but especially for the receiver. This is both humbling and inspiring."

What would you say to someone considering enrolling in the program?

"There are a wide variety of healing modalities in body work, but what makes Zen Shiatsu different is that it exists within the larger context of Chinese medicine. Zen Shiatsu draws on this 5000 year old tradition which results in a more nuanced, comprehensive, and holistic approach to helping people to heal themselves. The application of Chinese medicine wisdom through Zen Shiatsu results in a deeper practice with broader potential results, empowering all participants.

Study at Zen Shiatsu is definitely a journey and it doesn’t end with graduation from the program. This is a life’s journey where we are given tools to transform ourselves as well as learning to transfer those tools to those we are honored to treat." 

Jan first applied to study shiatsu because of her experiences with Qigong and Tai Chi.  Here was her entrance essay when she first began:

For the past five years I have been doing both Qigong and Tai Chi. When I first started practicing, I was totally attracted to the poetry of the names of the movements: “The Jade Plate Receives the Morning Dew,” “Existence Before Heaven and Earth,” “Empty yet Productive,” “The Greatly Skilled Seems Clumsy,” “To be Curled is to be Straight,” “Move the Stars - Turn the Big Dipper,” “Moving the Mountain and Pouring out the Sea.” This verbal poetry, of course, reflects Qigong’s and Tai Chi’s poetic movements which make the physical spiritual and the spiritual physical, which connect outside and in, inside and out. Never having felt very graceful, these movements are a kind of ballet for me and I am totally given to their beauty, poise, and sense of the sacred. My confidence, awareness, and focus are growing as I work toward mastering these specific sequences of movements.

Qigong and Tai Chi have helped me to take more responsibility for understanding the workings and the health of my body. I start each morning doing these exercises, practicing my observation of qi and its flow through my own body. These exercises, which give a quiet, but powerful and centering frame to my day, provide me with tools to begin to become more mindful of the connection between the internal and the universal energies all being one— a united and shared qi. Comprehending this is humbling and awesome. Practicing Qigong and Tai Chi, with its infinitely refinable movements, is a deep, deep pool into which I have barely dipped my toe, but it is the start of an important journey. To be the most fluid, the most poetic if you will, one’s intention, one’s awareness, one’s spirit must be focused, but gentle, which encourages the grace of one’s physical agility. The spiritual and the physical are not separate, but essentially interconnected, intertwined, nested in each other. Shiatsu is the perfect extension of this adventure.

Shiatsu, as I understand it at this point, is also grounded in an awareness of qi and harnesses that energy toward healing. There is something that feels profoundly right about Shiatsu, deeply organic, deeply connecting and nurturing. There is something enormously satisfying about both the giving and receiving of this kind of massage. Connecting the spiritual and the physical as well, a Shiatsu treatment is most effective when the giver is fully centered, open, and softly focused. I want to deepen my understanding of this practice and be able to help others to become more aware of their own bodies to apply this knowledge to heal themselves. I realize I have much to learn, but already my friends who have so kindly offered me their bodies and spirits on which to practice, continue to ask for more.

I feel that by learning Shiatsu I will deepen my practice of Qigong and Tai Chi and that by continuing to do my Qigong and Tai Chi, I will deepen my practice of Shiatsu. Both practices are essentially about balance and healing. Both practices help to stimulate the free flow of qi, helping us to connect to each other and the vaster energies of the universe. And yes, both practices are profoundly poetic and help us all to not only “Move the Stars— Turn the Big Dipper,” but also to effortlessly employ the “Pillar of Heaven” and the “Gushing Spring.”


Take the First Step: 


Call us now at 847-864-1130 to speak to one of our school directors.  Come understand the workings of your body, help others, and become a shiatsu therapist!