Freeing the Body in Water

Come join Sol to
 Explore Integral Aquatic Therapy and Watsu at Waimana at Mana


invite Sol Petersen to teach in your area

+ see the events on the home page t

What is Integral Aquatic Therapy and Watsu?
 Integral Aquatic Therapy is a gentle and effective form of body therapy and rehabilitation performed in warm water (35 degrees C.). It combines elements of soft tissue manipulation and massage, joint mobilization, trigger point therapy, stretching and positional release all woven seamlessly into a beautiful sequence of fluid movements. In an aquatic session the client can totally relax.  The face and nose remain out of the water as they are supported by the water, the healing hands of the practitioner and aquatic floats if necessary.

Integral Aquatic Therapy (Terapia Integral Acuatica or TIA in Spain) was developed by Structural Integration trainer, psychotherapist and longtime Watsu practitioner, Sol Petersen.  Bibian Badenes, a Rolfer and physiotherapist with hydrotherapy experience teaches TIA classes in Spain. They have evolved their holistic method of aquatic therapy integrating diverse therapeutic influences.

Watsu Aquatic Bodywork was developed in the U.S by Harold Dull, director of the Harbin School of Shiatsu and Massage. Watsu was born out of Harold’s explorations of applying massage and warm water and has continued to evolve through the expanding of the method by many of its practitioners and teachers.  Watsu is now popular at many international spas and in aquatic physiotherapy programmes.

Who would benefit from learning Integral Aquatic therapy?

     Massage therapists and bodyworkers, aquatic specialists, occupational and physiotherapists, and anyone who delights in the flowing beauty of the body in water. It will be of particular interest to those involved in the healing arts and anyone who wants to be part of an exciting new modality of aquatic bodywork

 The Body Moves Freely in Water

The curative effects of the warm water produce spontaneous responses in the connective tissues and the autonomic nervous system as well as on the emotional and energetic levels. This leads to a state of deep relaxation and stress release. In this state, the freeing of myofascial restrictions and joint adhesions facilitates greater range of motion and the opening of new neuromuscular pathways.

Unlike bodywork in the field of gravity where the client’s body is stabilized by the treatment table, in the water, the body is free to move and be moved and stretched both locally and globally in unusual ways and directions. The entire spinal column can be mobilized in snake-like undulations and spirals, impossible to achieve outside the water. The hip and shoulder joints can be more easily decompressed and guided into new movement pathways in a pain-less environment. The hydrostatic pressure of the water is like hundreds of gentle hands holding and massaging the whole body from every direction simultaneously.

Returning to the Source – Our Very Nature is Water


The first aquatic session is often a surprising and profound experience touching deep sensory and even emotional levels. The sense of total support, trust and body fluidity and freedom is unique and astonishing. We may feel like a piece of seaweed being danced by the sea goddess, lose all sense of our habitual body identification as if we had become part of everything, feel like we have returned to the womb or simply that we have fallen into the deepest relaxation of our life.

For a patient suffering rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA) or chronic pain (CP) or any movement disability, this gentle therapy may be an introduction to a feeling of joy or freedom in movement. 
For most of us, the last time we spent an hour floating in warm water was pre-birth - swimming in our mother’s tummy, listening to the echoic rhythms of her heartbeat. As we are essentially mostly water (over 80%), it is like a primal return to onerself.  The unconditional support and safety may also assist in the resolution of traumatic and psychosomatic conditions on both the physical and emotional levels.

The programmes:

Paticipants will experience a unique approach to aquatic bodywork and learn how to hold and move a partner through basic positions. You will learn what you need to know about working in the water, starting and completing a session and basic flows and techniques from  Integral Aquatic Therapy. You will learn about touch in and out of the water. You will also learn about your own body mechanics - how to support and move a person as effortlessly as possible in the water and how to stay centred in your own body. You will give the work, receive it from a partner and from the teachers so you experience it in your own body.

Sol Petersen,, tel 006478668971 or mob 00642189305

The Instructors:

Sol Petersen is an Integral Aquatic Therapy trainer, certified Watsu practitioner, Adaptive Physical Education teacher, a Structural Integration trainer, Aston Movement Coach, Cranio-Sacral therapist, Tai Ji teacher and is also trained in Hakomi Experiential Psychotherapy. He has been practicing Aquatic Bodywork for 18 years and loves to share this powerful and effective form of therapy.  Sol lives in New Zealand and teaches internationally.

What Physiotherapists say about Aquatic Bodywork and Watsu

 Peggy Schoedinger, Physical Therapist, U.S.A.
 "Any healthcare professional who utilizes bodywork as part of his/her practice will benefit from learning Watsu. Those who will especially benefit include physical, occupational, and massage therapists. Some professionals will utilize Watsu as the primary intervention in their treatment programs. Others will find their patients benefit the most when it is used as part of the treatment program or as part of each treatment session. Therapists find Watsu to be especially beneficial for patients who are having difficulty working on functional skills secondary to pain, muscle spasm or spacticity.
Watsu is being incorporated into aquatic therapy treatment programs in hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centers around the world. Therapists are impressed by the benefits for so many of their patients. Some of the patient populations who have benefited so far include traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, CVA, Parkinson's Disease, arthritis, cerebral palsy, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, ankylosing spondylitis, post mastectomy, rotator cuff, post open heart surgery and post traumatic stress disorder. Many patients report that nothing is as effective in decreasing their pain and improving their ability to move."
Lisa Dougherty, Physical Therapist , U.S.A.

"Watsu moves performed in warm water are very similar to basic Physical Therapy techniques used with neurologically involved clients. The stretching and rotation movements of the trunk and limbs, along with the effects of the water rushing in and out of the ears, lights playing on the eyelids as the head rolls from side to side, and temperature changes on the skin from warm water to the cooler air circulating above effect the primary sensory systems used in NDT, Rood and PNF. With these similar connections I am able to incorporate watsu into the hydrotherapy treatment of the neurologically involved.
The sensory input of touch in a session can be used to facilitate or inhibit responses. Slow, rhythmic rocking/rolling movements and abrupt repetitive ones affect muscle tone. The first inhibits increased muscle tone and the second facilitates or enhances it. The rhythmic rotation of head Incorect tag used in this page, please contact administrator to correct this page, thank you., trunk and limbs with promotes integration of tonic reflexes and stimulates the righting reactions Incorect tag used in this page, please contact administrator to correct this page, thank you. needed to maintain posture with sitting, and eventually standing. Passive stimulation to the joints sets up the groundwork for the muscles surrounding the joint to perform actively."