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Thai Yoga Massage Is Unique!
By Julie D’Costa
Thai Yoga Massage is an ancient healing tradition. Performed for centuries by monks in Buddhist temples, it still retains its spiritual and meditative aspects.
More than a purely physical practice, a crucial aspect of Thai massage is the intention with which it is given. Breathing, chanting and meditation help to prepare the practitioner to center and calm the mind so he can enter a state of awareness and mindfulness and develop a clear intention. Practiced with the intention of loving kindness, Thai massage becomes “the physical application of loving kindness.”
By being totally present in the moment the practitioner is able to develop a connection and an intuitive awareness of the needs of the receiver. This connection enables both practitioner and receiver to experience a feeling of relaxation, well-being and calm energy during and following the massage.
The practitioner also prepares himself physically. Practices such as yoga, chi gung or t’ai chi further help the practitioner to relax, get “out of his head,” increase flexibility and initiate the flow of positive energy.
Before beginning the massage the practitioner takes a moment to silently express gratitude to those who have contributed to his training and a humble request for guidance. The massage ends with a “Namaste” and a prayer of gratitude for the privilege of helping another. There are many other aspects that make Thai Yoga Massage unique:
Both practitioner and receiver are fully clothed, ideally in light cotton clothing.
The massage typically takes two to two-and-a-half hours to complete .
The massage is carried out on a mat on the floor rather than on a massage table or chair. This setup is very relaxing for the receiver and allows the masseur the space required to implement the many moves incorporated into the massage including passive yoga stretches, acupressure, trigger points and “kneading” movements.
Thai Yoga Massage starts with the feet, working on the major energy lines to balance the flow of energy in the body and ends with the head and face.
A distinctive feature is the choreography of the massage. The basic massage incorporates a set sequence of approximately 100 different moves. Incorporating passive yoga poses and stretches, the masseur manipulates the receiver’s body into position while conscious of the client’s limits in each stretch and allowing for individualized attention as required.
An example of applied yoga can be seen in the kidney stretch. The soles of the client’s feet rest on the knees of the masseur, stimulating the acupressure points on the soles of the feet. The masseur then grasps around the person’s bent legs to lift the client up and back for a gentle stretch of the kidney area with virtually no effort on the part of the receiver. The result is a stretch that the receiver could not accomplish on his own. The masseur does the work and the client benefits from the gentle stretch which also helps to massage the internal organs.
Synchronized breathing is intrinsic to the rhythm and effectiveness of the massage and contributes to the receiver’s feeling of being cared for.
Another distinctive quality of the Thai Yoga Massage is the benefit to both the client and the masseur. Rather than feeling stressed or tired after a “workout”, the masseur ends the massage feeling relaxed, energized, and connected with the client. The client is left with a profound sense of relaxation, energy, balance and well-being.