Interlude: Ahimsa for Green LivingJune 24, 2013
The Rebirth of CommunityFebruary 17, 2014
by Sean O’Leary, RYT 200-Hour RYT
Sean practices Thai Yoga Massage at Kushala Yoga on Fridays between 4pm – 9pm. Read more about his services, and book an appointment.
I am often asked what makes Thai Yoga Massage different from other styles of massage. Or even, “What is Thai Yoga Massage?” This ancient form of healing is rooted in the practice of Ayurveda and the energetic body. In yoga classes at some point you have surely heard the word Prana (our body’s vital life force). Prana is what sustains us. We breathe it in with every breath; it flows through our body to deliver nutrients, our consciousness or awareness, and also helps to remove toxins. Prana needs to flow through the body unobstructed for vitality (or life) to flourish. When Prana is obstructed this is where toxins build up and eventually, if left, develop into disease, stress or injury.
Two Sanskrit terms help illuminate the benefits of Thai Yoga Massage: “Sukha” which means space, ease, bliss, and happiness; and its opposite, “Dukha” which means suffering, bad space, or stress. Our society has accepted as normal (even, bizarrly enough, admirable!) most forms of Dukha including stress, anxiety, depression, stiffness/soreness, and physical limitations. The body is an amazing vehicle so there is always room to better the environment in which we live our lives. Giving the constant challenges of dukha in our lives, it is of critical mental, physical, emotional and spiritual importance to maintaining sukha (spaciousness and ease) so that Prana can move freely thus reducing the blockages in our physical and subtle body created by dukkha (suffering/bad space).
The subtle body is considered the body in which our Prana moves (also know as Lom, Chi in other philosophies). The Zen lines are the pathways through which this vital life giving energy flows. A parallel of the meridians of traditional Chinese medicine, the Zen lines could be seen as rivers with thousands of tributaries flowing from the main streams. There are 10 main Zen lines (main stream) to which 72, 000 total tributaries (or nadis) flow. If you were to dissect the human body you would not find the Zen lines but rather the nerves of the circulatory and lymphatic systems. You could also say that the Zen lines and nadis not only allow Prana to move through us but also our consciousness and awareness.
Herein lies the beauty and amazing benefits of Thai Massage. Rather than a manipulation of the muscles or anatomy of our body, Thai Massage targets the deeper, more subtle essence, bringing a deep energetic experience. Massage with registered massage therapists, cranial sacral methods, shiatsu, rolfing, or active release are all amazing therapies but mainly focus on fixing a problem in our physical body and sometimes overlook the mental state. Thai Massage has a unique body-mind-soul approach. While also working the physical body, it also uses hands, thumbs, elbows and feet to stimulate the zen lines of the whole body to remove blockages and encourage the free flow of prana in our body. Including assisted yoga postures, gentle stretching and traction techniques. Thai massage helps to create more Sukha in the body. From the tips of the toes, fingertips, to the head the zen lines of the body are stimulated leaving no part feeling neglected. This is a holistic massage that treats the entire being, balancing body, mind and soul. The meditative state of the practitioner and the rhythmic rocking techniques lull the recipient into a deep relaxation to allow deep healing to take place. Stiffness, sore muscles, and tightness can also be released when the body reaches these deep states of relaxation.
Ayurveda is a practice or preventative medicine. Rather than treating the symptom, it looks at the environment in which that disease began and discerns what qualities and factors could be used to bring the body back into a state of balance. Thai Massage which is rooted in the teachings of Ayurveda also considers what would be best for each individual developing a massage that is suited to bring the recipient back into a more spacious and relaxed body for healing to take place. So each massage is custom to suit the current needs and situation of the recipient on both a mental and physical level.
Why you should try Thai Yoga Massage:
1. It releases stiffness and tension of the muscles increasing flexibility using assisted yoga stretches and different massage techniques.
2. Thai Yoga Massage relieves stress and tension. A session will bring the recipient into a deeply relaxing and meditative state where all your cares and worries will melt away.
3. A chance for a more subtle and energetic experience. With the relaxation the mind and body become quiet enough to observe how the energy flows through us. This positive feeling can last for days after a treatment.
4. It’s lazy man’s yoga!! This is a no brainer somebody moves you through a series of yoga postures massage the zen lines all the way while you sit back and enjoy.
5. You are worth it!!!!!!! We have such neglect for our body. Treating ourselves to bodywork, and energy work can help to prevent long term blockages and stiffness (even illness and disease) from manifesting in our body.