Thai Yoga Massage: The Yoga of Dreams

A few years ago while visiting Chiang Mai, I decided to partake in a 3 day hike to experience the rural beauty of Thailand.  I was fairly healthy, loved walking and was looking forward to the meditative escape.   At the end of the third day, every inch of my body ached. Caught up in the excitement of the hike, I had neglected my body.  Muscles that I didn’t even know existed ached and I yearned for a warm bath with Epson salts.  However, the hostel  I was staying at did not include a bathtub.    The next morning over breakfast, it was suggested to me by a fellow hiker to try a thai yoga massage.  In the past I have not found massages very soothing, however I was desperate and I knew that I loved yoga.   Somewhat tentatively, I went to the closest studio and received my first of what would soon be many thai yoga massage treatments.

What is Thai Yoga Massage?

Thai yoga massage has been referred to as both dream and lazy yoga.  The dream yoga reference comes from the meditative state you and your therapist enters as your body is slowly worked through the positions.  Unlike your typical massage treatment, a thai yoga massage takes place fully clothed on a yoga mat.  The therapist slowly manipulates your body into a variety of yogic poses depending on the areas where tension, stress or negative energy is stored.   Your main role is to relax and allow your body to be slowly carried through the various postures.  It is often referred to as lazy yoga, since you are not forcing any positions but allowing the therapist to move your body.  It is pure relaxation, with the therapist working with your body to reach its optimum state.

Origin of the Therapy:

2500 years ago Ayurvedic  healers traveled with Buddhist monks performing  the healing art known as Nuad Boran  (thai yoga massage). This therapy was based on a combination of ayurveda  and yogic principles.  The belief of this therapy is that energy travels in pathways through your body in channels called Sen lines.  Light pressure is placed on the sen lines while your body is moved through a variety of asanas (yogic poses or positions).   By moving the body through yogic poses and placing gentle pressure on sen lines, the negative health would be channelled out and you would return to a healthy, meditative state.

Benefits of Thai Yoga Massage

* Stress relief
* Increases flexibility
* Enhances your yogic practice
* Working on the sen lines clears the pathway for emotion and energy
* Relieves muscular tension
* Improves circulation

Although thai yoga massage has been around for 2500 years,  it has only been in North America for about 15 years.  Jeanette Barrie of Boulder, Colorado began studying holistic health after she suffered from a severe car accident and was told that she would never walk again. Through her study she was able to mend her own body and is now sharing her knowledge with others by practicing thai yoga massage.    In 1995, Kam Thye Chow opened Lotus Palm, a school to educate thai yoga therapists in North America.  Born in Malaysia, he was astounded by the lack of this eastern treatment in North America and Europe.  Chow is dedicated to the art of thai yoga massage and strives to combine the eastern healing philosophy with the Western understanding of the body.  It is individuals like Chow and Barrie, who have helped foster the expansion of thai yoga massage throughout North America.   

Thai Yoga Demonstration

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