Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thai Yoga Massage

I began my yoga teacher training in November 2013 with a weekend immersion in Restorative Yoga.  After my first weekend, I returned home and began mapping out a plan for completion.  I had every class scheduled but one. 

I struggle with decision-making.  Always looking for a connection or a sign, I cannot even buy potholders if they don’t speak to me.    And then an email appeared in my inbox.  The subject line read:  THAI YOGA MASSAGE EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION EXTENDED.  Just a few days earlier when asked what I intended to do after completing yoga teacher training, I declared my intention was to retire to Thailand and teach yoga.  This email was my sign, my message from the Universe.

As the weekend for Thai Yoga approached, my enthusiasm started to fade and I wondered if I had misread the cue from the Universe.  After all, chances of me actually retiring to Thailand are slim; the logistics messy…especially given my new found fear of flying.   I also had no real concept of what Thai Yoga massage was or how I could eventually apply it to my practice.  I hoped I was not wasting my time and money.

She had me at, “Hello, I’m Melissa.”  Melissa Smith, 500 E-RYT (500 hour Experienced-Registered Yoga Teacher) and founder of Grace Yoga, greeted everyone with a warm hug and confident demeanor.  Captivated by her energy, I listened intently trying to harness as much knowledge, enthusiasm, and Metta (loving kindness) as I could.  Quickly, I could see the therapeutic benefits of Thai Yoga massage and began to formulate imaginary classes in my head.  Wouldn't it be great to follow a fast-paced vinyasa with a short massage sequence using partners or self massage techniques? I thought.

After our first full day of class, I returned home and announced to my husband that I wanted to practice my newly acquired massage skills on him.  He was excited.  And then I told him he would remain clothed and there would be no oil involved.  His excitement waned.

I created a comfortable space on the floor, about the width of two yoga mats and instructed him to lie on his back.  I began at his feet.  He grimaced.  I continued.  He grimaced again.  And then I performed the Russian Dance, a move which twists the torso, one leg over the other.  And again, he grimaced, this time announcing, “This is not anything I’d ever pay for.”  I stopped.  Certain he would enjoy the stretching, traction and twisting, this was not the reaction I expected.  I must be doing it wrong, I thought.  After a few brief moments and some deep inhales, I composed myself and continued, making mental notes of what he appeared to like and not like.  After I finished the entire sequence, he asked me to do it again.  

Shocked, “You want me to do it again?” I asked. 

“Yeah…well…it got better as you went along,” he replied. 

When I finished going through the entire sequence again, he asked, “Did you learn anything else you want to practice?”  As a matter of fact I had.   Happy to perform a seated massage and facial sequence, he pronounced both of those worthy of payment!

Thai Yoga massage is vastly different than the more commonly experienced Swedish massage.  With Swedish massage, the receiver lies on a table unclothed while his/her muscles are kneaded or stroked using oil to release tension.  Thai Yoga Massage requires the receiver lie on a mat on the floor.  The giver utilizes his or her body weight to apply pressure in a series of stretches and twists in a rhythmic meditation that resembles a graceful dance.  It incorporates elements of yoga, acupressure, reflexology and meditation, as well as, physiotherapy, energy healing, and Ayurveda

According to this article posted at
The benefits of Thai Yoga Massage are countless. By freeing the flow of vital energy in the body, Thai Massage can improve posture, breathing, flexibility, digestion and circulation. Muscles are stretched, inner organs toned and emotional and nervous tension is reduced.

During the training, I could see the tremendous value in Thai Yoga massage, especially for people with less flexibility and mobility, such as those with paralysis or rheumatoid arthritisAs I continue my yoga journey, I believe the path I am to travel will reveal itself to me.  My first goal is to achieve my 200 hour teacher training certification.  After that, I may consider a certification in Thai Yoga Massage, but like my decision to attend the Thai Yoga Massage weekend immersion, I will wait for a sign from the Universe!

1 comment:

  1. I only need a yoga and massage when I am in stress and depress.
    Thai Yoga Massage