I first heard about Thai Yoga Massage several years ago from a yogi friend.
As a person who loves yoga and massages, a combination of the two sounded like a genius idea.
Though I had no idea what was in store for me, I signed up for a Thai Yoga Massage class here in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city and my current home.
The class was divided into pairs, and we performed some gentle, relaxing postures easy enough to achieve by using our own body weight and the help of gravity. Something about the movements caused a feeling of openness to wash over me, similar to what I have experienced during a good yoga class—but with even greater relaxation.
At the end of the class, I felt pleasantly stretched out and completely calm. That’s when I knew I had fallen in love with Thai Yoga Massage.
Those of us who practice yoga are aware of the calming effect it has on our bodies, so imagine that, only deepened. Another bonus: I had never practiced couples yoga, so this class allowed me to use my intuition and become more connected to whomever I was partnered with. Energetic connection is something many of us strive for, and I found that and more in this practice.
I work with older people and those entering retirement, so it was natural for me to start thinking about how Thai Yoga Massage could be beneficial to my clients. After all, when we become older, the aging process takes a toll on our bodies. While many people age gradually and comfortably, others have a harder time. Yes, there are various treatments that can help with this process, and Thai Yoga Massage is one more avenue for making aging easier.
As our bodies age, our heart and muscles become weaker. Our heart pumps and blood flows at a slower rate. We become less flexible and lose bone density, which makes bones easier to fracture. Also, our digestive systems are more vulnerable and easier to upset. Even though these changes are a natural part of the aging process, they can be quite difficult to deal with.
I’ve always been interested in Eastern and alternative medicine, and I believe there must be ways we can help our bodies without ingesting medication that only treats symptoms.
I started to focus on Thai Yoga Massage as a possible treatmeant and to research more about the subject. It is thought to have originated more than a millennium ago in the Buddhist temples of Southeast Asia. The good news is, its principles of natural healing and vitality can be shared by those of any faith.
The goal behind Thai Yoga Massage is to help those involved reach what is known as the four boundless, sublime states of mind: Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity. Reaching these states is believed to increase awareness, emotional and mental health.
I know first-hand that yoga and massage can help with a variety of ailments. And my research showed that yoga has also been found to improve and relieve physical symptoms of aging.
Thai Yoga Massage increases blood flow, relieves pain, improves circulation, helps with flexibility, improves breathing and more. The unique part of this form of treatment is that it aims to heal our bodies as a whole by working on an interconnected web of different body systems. This makes much more sense than only treating a specific symptom, while neglecting how the entire body is affected.
Thai Yoga Massage reaches its healing goal by working with the ten meridian lines that flow through our bodies. These lines are said to supply our bodies with energy and balance. Many of us have heard about this concept before, as it’s often associated with acupressure or acupuncture. There is scientific evidence showing positive effects occur when certain parts of the body are manipulated.
According to Thai Yoga Massage theory, these natural lines are prone to blockages or “traps.” Therefore, the goal is to work through these blockages and improve our overall health, balance, well-being and positive feelings. It has been found to treat and prevent a number of common ailments and problems, and even to ease the undesirable effects of aging.
People often ask me how Thai Yoga Massage is performed. As the name suggests, it is a combination of yoga stretches and gentle touches. It’s commonly practiced one-on-one in a relaxing setting, similar to where we would want to practice yoga. We wear comfortable, light clothing and perform the movements on a yoga mat. Sessions tend to go for 30 to 90 minutes, though they can be longer or shorter depending on our needs.
The instructor works on our bodies based on our levels of flexibility, and you don’t have to have any level of experience in yoga to begin. They help us assume and hold a number of different yoga positions in a comfortable way and may use thumbs, elbows, palms, fingers and feet to do so. By using body weight, instead of strength, and a steady and meditative rhythm, the instructor makes the most of different poses to work with different areas of the body.
After my first Thai Yoga Massage session, I was hooked. Whenever I tell someone about it and they give it a go, they get back to me with positive results. To experience continued improvement, one should continue with multiple sessions. Sessions can continue for as long as you feel they are beneficial.
I’ve incorporated Thai Yoga Massage into my regular healthcare routine because I’m interested in its preventative qualities as well.
Chiang Mai is considered to be one of the best places to experience Thai Yoga Massage. But you don’t have to hop on a plane to enjoy its benefits. The practice is gaining exposure and more yoga studios across the world are starting to offer it.
Look for Thai Yoga Massage in your area; I promise you’ll be grateful you did.
Author: Wassana Lampech
Apprentice Editor: Kristen Bagwill; Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Tara Angkor Hotel/ Flickr