Instructors & Styles
Edward Spencer, Ashiatsu
What is Ashiatsu?
Ashiatsu is a bodywork form that applies therapeutic pressure (through clothing) to promote health and well being. Although “Ashiatsu” literally means foot (ashi) pressure (atsu) in Japanese, ashiatsu techniques also make use of knees, elbows, palms, and fingers where necessary and appropriate.
By working with the body, Ashiatsu can heighten total (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) awareness. Treatments typically include stretching, stimulation or sedation of acupressure points/meridians, and structural alignment techniques. The work is effective therapeutically and clients will often feel the work deeply in their muscles, internal organs, and bones.
What are the roots of Ashiatsu?
Ashiatsu is in the lineage and tradition of Shizuko Yamamoto’s Barefoot/Macrobiotic Shiatsu, but with more emphasis on the individual as an energy system than on dietary guidelines. Traditional Chinese organ/meridian theory and psychic energy body teachings from the ancient Egyptian mystery school tradition are the two major approaches used in perceiving, understanding, and treating disease and wellness in this work.
Edward Spencer has been practicing bodywork since 1974, studying with Shizuko Yamamoto, Loren Berry and many others. Over the last 29 years, he has integrated his studies of barefoot shiatsu, structural mechanics, and energy work in order to teach the art known as Ashiatsu.
What are the benefits of Ashiatsu?
* Reduced stress and greater sense of well being
* Relaxed muscles and improved circulation
* Improved immune system
* Heightened awareness of emotional and psychological processes
Ashiatsu presumes that the natural tendency of all organisms is towards health and optimal functioning for the purpose of evolution. Therefore, the mind/body/spirit need only be reminded of its original essence and intention in order to be re-connected to the intrinsic foundation of wellness out of which one manifests their being’s purpose. Where there is discord between the mind, body, and spirit, Ashiatsu seeks to bring integration and harmony. In Ashiatsu, the practitioner employs the whole body (including the feet) to promote “wholism” in another person. As Shizuko Yamamoto is fond of saying about the work, “Wholism creates wholism.”
Edward majored in psychology and has graduate credits in clinical psychology. He has been a practitioner of Ashiatsu for 29 years and an instructor in the Bay Area for 25 years. Past major influences on his work include Master Y.C. Chiang for Tai Chi, Loren Berry for structural work, and the Lomi School for body-oriented psychology. Recent influences include 10 years in personal therapy, 15 years of psychic work with Phyllis Pay, and 10 years facilitating men’s groups through the Center for Intuitive Energy Processing.
Edward offers classes in basic through advanced Ashiatsu several times a year at the Barefoot Movement Headquarters and through the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, California. For serious students interested in delving more deeply into the art, he also offers a ten-month apprenticeship program. Upon completion, apprentices receive certification to teach Ashiatsu. For more information, please contact Edward Spencer. (510)525-6723
A Word about Edward from Michelle Nemer
Edward combines excellence in technique with the most impressive, uncanny intuition in diagnosis and life guidance. This combination has served me in my healing and self-development as much as anything I have done for myself over two decades of natural health study and practice. He is an extraordinary healer.
-Michelle Nemer – Macrobiotic Teacher, Health Counselor, Author
El Cerrito, CA
Leah Gillman, Barefoot Bodywork
Barefoot Bodywork, evolved from Ashiatsu and Barefoot Shiatsu, is both efficient to practice and gratifying to receive. The technique is primarily two basic footwork techniques: rocking and leaning and endless combinations and variations of these techniques. Barefoot Bodywork begins with learning the basic form while gaining the balance and coordination required. As the physical skill level of the practitioner develops, the ability to feel and ‘listen’ through the feet comes to life. Barefoot Bodywork sessions are for those interested in exploring and considering limitations in order to come into greater consciousness with their physical, spiritual and emotional selves.
Why schedule a Barefoot Bodywork Session?
Barefoot Bodywork sessions are scheduled for the same reasons as other forms of massage. However, it is distinct in that it informs the recipient about the ways they have defined themselves while creating an opportunity for them to consider something different. It is for all people who want to come into a greater consciousness of their physical, spiritual and emotional selves. It is appropriate for any age or body type–large and petite, young and old and everyone in between…
Leah studies with Edward Spencer
who studied with the creator of Barefoot Shiatsu, Shizuko Yamamoto. Leah began studying with Edward in 2000 at the Acupressure Institute. She has completed a nine month apprenticeship program with him and is certified to teach Ashiatsu at the beginning level. She continues to meet with Edward on a regular basis. Currently, Leah continues her education in the traditional Chinese health arts at the Acupressure Institute, where she also assists Edward with his classes.
A word about Leah from Edward Spencer…
I originally met Leah Gillman briefly in 2000 through a relative. She struck me even then as a formidable human being committed to learning and truth. She became both a client and student of mine through the Acupressure Institute of Berkeley, California later in 2000 and graduated from an apprenticeship with me in late June of 2005 at which time she was certified to teach my work, Ashiatsu, at its beginning level. She has been an assistant instructor with me at the Acupressure Institute since that time and has more recently substitute taught level one courses for me there.
Of all my students over the past 30 years, Leah has been the most ambitious and the most persistent in the learning, practice, and transmission of the work in its purest form. Her background as a dancer & choreographer, her athleticism and yoga practice, as well as her artist’s soul have allowed her to grasp the essence of the work and to execute it as art with compassion. She represents the direct line back to the founder of Ashiatsu (aka., Barefoot Shiatsu, aka. Macrobiotic Shiatsu), Shizuko Yamamoto.
I am honored and proud to speak on her behalf and of her achievement in this revered healing practice. May beings benefit from the touch of her feet and hands.
With Great Love & Respect,
Edward A. Spencer
Senior Ashiatsu Practitioner & Teacher
As a dancer, athlete and healer Rachel knows the value of having a balanced and healthy body. At the core of being able to enjoy one’s life is the need to have a strong, resilient and healthy body. Without our health, what are we?
Since 2005 Rachel has been exploring the world of alternative therapies. She is a Certified Shiatsu Massage Practitioner from the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley where she also studied Acupressure and Thai massage. She received more extensive Traditional Thai Massage training and certification in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In addition to her massage training, she completed a week-long intensive in Macrobiotics at the Strengthening Health Institute in Philadelphia where she gained a deeper understanding of how food impacts our health.
With the intention to heal, and to bring balance and renewed energy to her clients, she hopes to inspire you to live fully, make healthy choices and to take care of your body… after all, it’s where you live. www.artfullhands.com
Amnat Khunchamnan, Thai Massage
Amnat is a fourth generation Thai massage practitioner and teacher. His family has been doing Thai massage for more than 100 years. At age seven he began apprenticing with his grandmother, Nom Khunchamnan, the only massage therapist and midwife in their village.
At age 15, Amnat was ordained as a Theravadan Buddhist monk, remaining in the temple for 16 years. During that time, Amnat learned Thai Yoga therapy and Traditional Thai medicine from Buddhist monks. He traveled extensively to teach, study, and visit significant temples in Southeast Asia. He earned a Bachelors Degree in English and completed the course work for a Masters Degree in Buddhism at Chiang Mai University.
After leaving the temple, Amnat continued his studies in Thai massage, Thai foot reflexology, Nerve Massage, Yoga therapy, and Western bodywork. He is certified by the Thai Ministry of Public Health as a teacher of Traditional Thai Massage. He established Khunchamnan Family Massage Classes in Chiang Mai in 2005. He currently divides his time between his two homes, Chiang Mai and New York.
Amnat’s genuine love of Traditional Thai medicine, his daily practice of Thai yoga, and his extensive experience in meditation and Buddhist philosophy along with his lovely sense of humor make him a truly unique teacher of traditional Thai massage. Amnat’s classes are light-hearted and fun.