Thai Yoga Massage

An intimate connection

The traditional Thai massage is a sacred dance. An intimate connection between two people with the aim of releasing blockages and releasing healing energies. Thai Yoga kindles our spiritual fire and lets the flame of love and compassion burn.

Thai yoga massage, as we teach it through the Sunshine Network around Asokananda and his team of partly trained Eastern theopaths here in the west, has little to do with the sometimes rough type of Thai massage in Thailand. But let’s start from the beginning:

What is the traditional Thai yoga massage?

A few facts:
The traditional Thai massage (ttM) is often known in the West as Thai Yoga Massage or by its short name “Nuat”. This is derived from the Thai name Nuat Phaen Boran, which translates as “massaging according to an ancient pattern”.

The traditional Thai massage shows some of the characteristics of yoga – which is probably why it has become so popular in yoga circles. It’s a lot about letting go, surrender, and relaxing. To achieve this, Nuat uses stretching and stretching positions, as well as joint mobilization, which were taken from yoga. In addition, the Thai massage works with pressure point massages. So it can be described as a mixture of passive yoga and acupressure.

The aim of Thai massage is to stimulate the flow of energy in the body and dissolve blockages in order to promote health and wellbeing. The background of the Thai massage is as well as the network of energy channels, the nadis, which run through our body. This shows how closely the traditional Thai massage is connected to the Indian teachings of Ayurveda. 

Essentially ten energy pathways that are assigned to our organs are massaged. The massage techniques used are diverse. It is massaged both with gentle stretches and with the rhythmic pressure of the thumbs, ball of the hand, but also knees, elbows and feet. The yoga massage takes place clothed and is performed on the floor. A traditional Thai massage lasts up to 1.5 hours. If massages are tailored to specific complaints of individual patients, a Thai yoga session can also last up to 3 hours.

A long story in a few words

It is said that the north Indian doctor Jivakar Kumar Bhaccha laid the foundation stone for Thai massage. Even today he is revered in Thailand as the “father of medicine” and mentioned in a prayer at the beginning of the Thai massage. Here it says “Om Namo Jivago …”, which Jivakar Kumar Bhaccha has also earned the nickname “Doctor Jivago”. As a contemporary of the Buddha, he lived in India around 2500 years ago, where he was in contact with the Buddha and provided medical care for him and his monastic community.

Buddhism began to spread at that time and probably some monks, when they left the Indian subcontinent, took not only their teachings of Buddhism but also the art of Thai massage with them to Southeast Asia. Here it was first passed on orally in Buddhist temples over many centuries. That the philosophy of India and that of Buddhism have remained in contact can be seen in the yoga positions in the Thai Yoga Massage and in the strong similarity of the language, Sanskrit and Pali, the language of Buddhism, which are rooted in India.

Principles of Thai Massage

The traditional Thai massage is still deeply connected to Buddhism and its principles. This is how it is used with metta (a term used in Buddhism for loving kindness). The masters are usually deeply religious people who perform the massage in the state of mindfulness, equanimity (upeksha), compassion (karuna) and mudita, sympathetic joy.

Effects of traditional Thai massage

Many of the effects of Thai massage that have been known in traditional Asian teaching for thousands of years are now also recognized from the point of view of Western science. In addition to the general well-being after a Nuat treatment, the following positive effects of Thai massage can be mentioned in particular:

  1. physical relaxation by stretching the muscles
  2. mental relaxation through mindful touch
  3. improved flexibility of the musculoskeletal system by treating the fascia
  4. Calms the breath and, indirectly, the mind
  5. Stimulation of digestion and the associated strengthening of the immune system
  6. Blood circulation and the flow of lymph are stimulated
  7. Targeted action on certain organs through energy points (acupressure points or marma points)
  8. Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system in deep relaxation so that the internal organs are supplied with more blood and the metabolism is stimulated
  9. Feeling of security through lifting techniques

Thai massage in the west

Since the 1990s, traditional Thai massage or Thai yoga massage has also been taught and spread in the West. Asokananda (Harald Brust, 1955–2005) was one of the first Europeans to make Thai massage known beyond the borders of Thailand and to train international teachers. The direction that Asokananda and his team, which is partly made up of trained ostheopaths, the ‘Sunshine Network’, have given the Thai Yoga Massage something special and established the way we practice it today: It is a sacred dance. 

An intimate connection between two people with the aim of loosening stuck energy and getting it moving. It kindles our spiritual fire and awakens the inner therapist to bring love and compassion into our lives. She works with gravity and takes her time, avoiding hectic rush and the use of force. Beneficial and healing for both, masseur and recipient. And she doesn’t plan any sequences, lets the mind come to rest in order to feel needs instead.

This wonderful art of learning Thai Yoga Massage, with elements of osteopathy and craniosacral therapy, means much more than memorizing a series of positions and pressure points. Rather, it is an attitude, an approach to being human itself.

Differences in Thai massage in the west and east

Anyone who has ever experienced a traditional Thai massage in a Thai studio or on the beach in Thailand will remember that it is sometimes quite rough. Joints and vertebrae crack and elbows or knees tend to land rudely on sensitive (because tense) muscles. After the second inner flinch at the latest, relaxation is no longer possible. You inevitably wait for the next time. After such a treatment you often feel better physically than before, but the memory of a painful experience remains. It doesn’t have to be like that!

More effective and lasting are friendly and compassionate touches and harmoniously swaying movements in the carefully stretched tissue – in the comfort area. In this way, the masseur has enough time to feel the limits of mobility before he has exceeded them and perhaps caused pain. In this way, deep relaxation becomes possible, completely letting go of everything we hold on to, often without even realizing it. And only then enables the recipient’s body to activate its self-healing powers.

Article Reference: Yogamehome

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