Cat Westwood April Practitioner in Focus
This month we caught up with Cat Westwood, a trainee teacher who brings her background in dance and movement to her Shiatsu practice.
Why did you choose to learn Shiatsu?
A seed was planted around 10 years ago when I was visiting Norwich for dance work. I saw Celia Little practising Qi Gong in her garden and asked my colleague (Celia's daughter) "What is your mum doing?!" At that moment I saw the powerful correlation between energy work and dance and my Shiatsu journey began.
Tell us more about the relationship between dance and your Shiatsu practice?
I originally trained as a contemporary dancer at Trinity Laban Music and Dance Conservatoire in London. I like to call my dance/movement practice “Body Work”, as it’s not simply the techniques of movement or the aesthetics of dance, but a far deeper awareness of body, thought, form and feeling. My dance comes from the inside out, I’ve even studied phenomenology and semiotics to understand the complexity of a single gesture and what that means to the audience.
I continue to dance in performances, give workshops and choreograph. I also support my Shiatsu through yogic practice. Last year I graduated from the Meridian Yoga Teacher Training Course with Annie Cryar in Hastings. For me Dance, Yoga and Shiatsu are not separate entities but rather complementary practices, each feeding the others in terms of knowledge and richness; Like a tapestry, I'm weaving many threads together to create a fuller picture.
How has Shiatsu changed your life?
Greatly! And in many ways. I love seeing a difference in others after treatments, it’s truly humbling. There has also been a change in myself too...like that old proverb says: "you can't pour from an empty cup", Shiatsu has helped me to grow, accept and love.
Tell us about your work with Martlet’s Hospice in Hove
I studied at Shiatsu College Brighton with Debbie Collins & Matt Woods. During my training I did a joint project with my peer Angie Hell at Martlets Hospice. This started a relationship between the hospice and college, offering Shiatsu treatments to patients in palliative care, as well as their carers, family members and the staff working at the hospice.
How I visualise my practice
Are there any other client groups you have particularly focused on working with?
Shiatsu College Brighton is housed at the MS Centre so I naturally became a therapist there for just over a year. I was lucky to treat many people, again not just people with MS or ME but also their relatives. I now live in Norwich and work at the Shiatsu College here. The different places I’ve worked have really enriched my practice and I can see that in a few years time I’ll have different experiences to draw upon again.
Do you have any tips for new practitioners setting up their practice?
Visualisations are useful; Think about your current practise then draw/write this down, then consider where you would like to be in the near future, drawing or writing your thoughts down. Then finally, repeat the exercise again for your dream scenario. It helps you to get your thoughts in order. Also, don't be shy - feel the worth of what you can do!
How do you promote your practice?
I promote my practice through websites, business cards and by letting people know "this is where I work". The other day my bank manger looked stressed so I passed her my business card and she said "oh what's Shiatsu?" I replied: "it's great for stress!".
Moreover, I’m mindful to be true to what I do in my work as well as the rest of my life and support others too. This way I promote my practice from my (Hara) centre, through the support of the community around me and the Shiatsu College.
Where would you like your Shiatsu to develop in the future?
I’m not sure at moment...I think I need to do my suggested visualisations! However, I have begun Shiatsu Teacher Training and have recently run a workshop linking dance/movement with Shiatsu and would like to run more of these.
New member of New Energy Work
Cat Westwood MrSS
Online course creator, camera operator, lighting technician and video editor
Cat is the newest member of the team - she has just moved from Brighton to Norwich - and we are super happy she has joined us. Not only is Cat a great Shiatsu practitioner - she is also a professional international dancer with her own dance company. When Cat is not building her new practice at the Centre we keep her really busy helping us create the online courses, working the camera and lights in the video sessions, and she is now our favourite video-editor-in-chief!
email Cat at firstname.lastname@example.org