The spiritual practice of yoga is one of the oldest disciplines in the world, and from that discipline stems the sacred practice of Thai yoga massage. We all know the health benefits of doing yoga; this massage, in essence, is the equivalent of having yoga done to you.
Shelagh Binks of Yoga with Shelagh, describes it as a truly unique and beautiful experience, one that is unlike any massage treatment out there. Thai yoga massage is a ‘partner practice’, performed on large, comfortable mats on the floor, wearing loose and comfortable clothing. The practitioner uses their hands, feet, arms and legs to gently guide the recipient through a series of yoga postures, while palming and thumbing along the body’s energy lines and pressure points.
Shelagh defines the palming and thumbing as a way to open the energy lines (also known as sen) that run throughout the body, move the energy through these lines and then close the lines by palming again. Together, the postures and the movement of the energy makes for a comprehensive full body treatment.
The origins of traditional Thai massage date back 2500 years ago with roots in India and in Thailand. It is well known in the Eastern world as a sacred healing practice, essential for overall well being. This dynamic bodywork therapy manipulates the sen lines, which follow the muscular contours providing stability and structure to the whole body.
Eastern practices are performed on the basis that the whole body and mind are connected. Releasing tension in one area of the body can correct postural imbalances and relieve pain symptoms elsewhere in the body. Thai yoga massage also
· Improves movement
· Stretches and tones your muscles
· Improves circulation
· Boosts your immune system
· Balances your body’s energy
The Western world is used to working on the physical, it is used to working on one area where the injury is and the symptoms are, and it is used to working on sound evidence. The concepts of Thai massage focus on the body as a whole. When one part is injured, others areas of the body are working to compensate for the injury, and areas are working to heal the injury. That is why the body must be treated from head to toe, as a whole.
This practice involves intuition and it is a deep feeling art. Shelagh adds that it is important for the recipient to relax and have trust in the practitioner. This will help the movements become smooth and harmonious, allowing the recipient to get the most healing out of the session.The practitioner remains focused and centred throughout the massage, really listening to and connecting with the needs of the recipient. There is great emphasis on giving Metta (Indian sanskrit for loving kindness) during Thai massage. When there is mindfulness in massage, and spiritual awareness, real healing can take place. Therefore, this entire connection can at times feel quite emotional as you realize you are really being cared for.
There are times in our lives when we must care for others, and we know that we must also make time to care for ourselves; Thai yoga massage is allowing someone to take care of you. For some, this may sound selfish, but others know it is a transformative experience. Allowing someone to take care of you has profound affects on your overall health. It makes you want to tae better care of yourself. That, in turn, helps you take care of everything and everyone in your life better! And that will indeed give you long term health benefits.
As they say in the yogi world, Namaste.
Photo credits Phil Binks