Today I was fortunate to experience the delights of a Thai yoga massage for the first time. Friend and fellow yoga teacher Regina is training to be a qualified Thai yoga massage therapist, and even though I’ve never had one before, I can say that it felt to me that she is very good already!
Before today I only had vague notions of what a Thai yoga massage was, based on what a couple of other people had told me. I knew it was fully clothed, and that you were put into positions by the therapist. However, there’s actually a considerable lot more to it than that.
Regina explained that it uses a similar energy system to both yoga, with the nadis, and Chinese medicine with the meridians, and has its ‘sen’ lines (energy lines). If these are blocked then physical imbalances in the body can occur, showing up as pain, disease or physical and emotional problems. She explained that each person receives a different massage, based on what they need. I had work on my feet, legs, hips, hamstrings and shoulders. It was all fabulous! She used physical pressure on certain areas or muscles, like shiatsu or acupressure, as well as assisted stretching and moving of my limbs. A Thai yoga masseur uses their hands, feet, elbows, knees etc to work on your body.
It’s definitely not a passive treatment*, unlike a conventional aromatherapy massage, and can work well for people who are stiff, as well as for those who are already flexible, as it works on many different levels, such as the muscles, joints, deep tissue, and subtle layers of the body we’re less aware off. Regina said that working with one person for several months does show improvements if they are stiff, as well as helping with deeper layers of ‘stuff’.
As two yoga teachers it was also very interesting for me to learn a bit more about my body, differences between the left and right sides, how my flexibility compares to others, and to see the effects of my recent broken foot bone injury (tighter calf, hip and hamstring on that side). Some of the pressure work was quite deep, but working with the breath and exhaling I was able to release some of the tension in the muscles, and Regina could also feel the difference when I did this as it allowed her to work deeper as well. Afterwards I felt relaxed, as well as pleasantly stretched. And all I’d done was lie there and be moved about a bit!
Various websites list the benefits that can result from this treatment, ranging from relaxation, improved posture, de-stressing, improved flexibility, muscle & joint pain relief, prevention of health problems, soothing the nervous system, and balancing the subtle energy in the body. The effects of a Thai massage can therefore be relaxing as well as healing.
I think I’ll be making another booking soon!
*Although some websites refer to it as passive yoga.