What is WATSU® And How It Can Help Your Healing Journey

WATSU® is a passive form of aquatic bodywork which, was developed during the ’80s by Harold Dull at the Harbin Hot Springs in California.  Since then it has become a popular modality with many applications depending on what training has been completed.

During a WATSU® session, one is floated in warm water (34 degrees Celsius) and taken through a series of rhythmical, slow, gliding, floating movements, stretches, and massage.

Your body is supported by the water which allows a unique sense of freedom of movement for your body due to the minimal effect of gravity and the 3-dimensional quality of movement in the water. Your neck and head are supported by the practitioner to stay comfortable throughout the session.  This duality of freedom with support brings about a very deep sense of relaxation for one’s body and mind alike which activates the body’s natural healing cycles by bringing balance to the nervous system.

This balancing and calming effect on the autonomic nervous system and the ease of moving bodies in the water is partly responsible for the beneficial therapeutic effects of WATSU® which has led to its popularity in rehabilitation centres across the world.

During a WATSU® session, the body is moved as a whole (each movement affects the whole body) and it has a releasing, mobilising effect on all body structures (including fascia, muscles, nerves, and joints).

If your body is healthy and you have no injuries you can see any Certified WATSU® practitioner.

If, however, you have a medical condition, illness, or injury or you suffer from pain, it is best to see a physiotherapist who is also qualified as a Certified WATSU® Practitioner.

So whether you receive a WATSU® session as a relaxing modality (similar to a massage), or as part of a therapeutic intervention (decreasing tone, spasticity, stiffness & pain) the outcome is an experience second to none.

WATSU® training – Certification  as a WATSU® Practitioner

WATSU® training is available at many different levels and it depends on what you want to do with your WATSU® training. WATSU® can be learned by anyone to be used for private use only (with partners and family who are healthy and without injuries or illnesses).

If, however, you want to make a career out of WATSU® and work with the public/clients the training requirements are clearly set out in this document.

The requirements are different depending on whether or not you have a license to touch i.e. a qualification that allows you to work as a body worker. WATSU® is a modality that you can add to your toolbox if you already have another qualification in bodywork.  Please contact us if you have further questions or queries.

WATSU® training consists of 4 x 50 hour accredited courses:

  • Basic WATSU® – 16 hours – This is an introduction course to WATSU and it is a great way to explore and decide if WATSU® is a modality that you want to continue to study. It is also a great course for partners, parents, and children (above 16) or friends to do together.
  • Transition Flow®- 34 hours – During this course you will expand on what you learned during the Basic WATSU® course. The focus is on your own body mechanics and how to keep the person you are floating comfortably. You will learn the main positions used during a WATSU® session.
  • WATSU 1® 50 hours – WATSU 1® is the combination of Basic WATSU® and Transition Flow. The material covered is the same in the 2 courses above, but students sign up for the full 50-hour class which is run as 2 x 3 day courses or as a 5.5 day course.
  • WATSU 2® 50 hours – WATSU 2® is a review of what you have learned in WATSU 1® and you will learn new movements and stretches in the various positions. During this course, you lay down solid foundations and refine your skills at WATSU®.
  • WATSU 3® 50 hours – WATSU 3® takes all the movements that you have learned during the previous courses to the next level by introducing Free Flow. You will learn many ways of rolling the person you are holding and deepening and expanding the way in which you follow their movements.

Students can repeat any of the above 50-hour courses as their 4thcourse.

After successfully completing WATSU 2®, students are required to complete a minimum of 20 practice sessions and receive 10 professional sessions from a Certified Practitioner.

Please see the full requirements for Certification.

Each WATSU® class taken will be recorded on the Worldwide Aquatic Bodywork Registry (WABR) and once Practitioners are certified their names will be added to the registry. There is a nominal annual fee for membership.

Take a look at a testimonial from a client who has had a WATSU® session and their impression of the treatment.

I’ve had a number of WATSU® sessions with Adele and have found them immensely helpful. The combination of gentle touch, being stretched, and ‘danced’ is pure pleasure.  Time disappears, the mind slows down and movement is effortless. It’s a deeply satisfying and healing experience.

The water and Adele’s skillful guiding allow my body to let go and open further than I would have thought possible.  With this comes a sense of expansiveness and freedom of movement that I’ve not known for years.   I’ve touched into places of deep peace, safety, and wellness.  And these experiences go with me into daily life.

The physical benefits have included: a reduction of global bodily discomfort including the complete disappearance of mild, but persistent, facial neuralgia.   Easing of stiffness in my fingers and knees. My vitality and libido have also improved.

Emotionally, I’m calmer, less reactive to daily stress, and sleep better. There are fluctuations, but the baseline is steadier and I feel stronger in body and mind.

I highly recommend WATSU® and Adele.  She is experienced, skillful, and sensitive.  Her touch is reassuring, never invasive.  She invites, guides, and allows the body to follow its own pathways to well-being. 

  • Tracy Shaw, Hout Bay (March 2020)