Towards the end of my yoga teacher training, we had some sessions around ethics and professional development. My teachers described the first 200hr TT as getting your L-plates: you’re qualified, you can teach and you know how to instruct the poses but what about reading the energy of the room? Or making an effective adjustment? How do you know when to take someone deeper and when to hold back? And what does it mean to truly hold space? Things that I knew tuppence about, with my shiny new L-plates hanging around my freshly trained hinee.
Professional development as a yoga teacher comes in myriad and mysterious forms. There’s massage, meditation, reiki, vortex healing, cranial sacral therapy, ayurveda, acupuncture, reflexology. All offering different ways to read the body, work with energy, hold space and understand anatomy. So, with this in mind, I started to ponder upon the benefits of Thai Yoga Massage. I mean, it sounded fun. Yoga and massage all at the same time. Winner.
The first thing I did was track down a wonderful woman in Leeds called Susanne Thomas. I’d heard great things about her Thai massagery I so gave her a call, discovered that she trained with one of my teachers and booked myself in. When I arrived for my session, Susanne looked at my skinny jeans and offered me some leggings. I had no idea that Thai Massage was a fully clothed experience so I gratefully accepted her offer and, before long, I was reclining on the comfy double massage mat on her lounge floor. Two hours and a little snooze later, I was completely blissed out. I’d been lovingly pressed and padded like a cat, gently eased into all manner of yoga poses and had my Sen lines unblocked so the prana was flowing freely. Now that might sound like I just spoke in two other languages but my body changed significantly after that massage.
The thing about all this energy stuff is you have to experience it for yourself. You have to feel your own life force and witness your own shifts and blockages and uprisings. Yogic wisdom is something we gain as a result of having seen or perceived the world differently, to paraphrase Stephen Cope. “It is understanding gained through careful examination of direct experience” (Wisdom of Yoga, xxix). The more you meditate and massage and connect to the ‘energy body’ the stronger your awareness and experience will be. When we move through asana we are strengthening the prana body and clearing the pathways so we can be more present, aware and, well, energized.
In Thai Yoga Massage, prana, or life force, pathways make up an energy line system called ‘ten sen’ – ten major lines made up of 72,000 subsidiaries called pranamaya kosha, or the ‘energy body’. If there is a blockage in any line, preventing the free flow of prana, it can lead to aches, pains and disease on a physical, emotional or spiritual level. A thorough Thai massage should cover the ten sen lines, restoring health, harmony and balance. Traditionally practiced in Buddhist temples, there is a deep meditative aspect where the practitioner is present through every moment and where each movement is offered with loving-kindness. Said to be ‘the physical application of loving-kindness’, this is a truly beautiful form of massage where every touch has meaning and intention.
After my experience with Susanne, I decided to train with her teacher and now I’ve decided to share some of that training in a 90 minute workshop at Yoga Hero on Friday February 12th. It is, after all, Valentine’s weekend, so it makes sense to share something that is based on loving-kindness meditation. I’ll be teaching you how to massage the feet and hands, how to release blocks in the hips and, finally, a bit of lower back love. You don’t need any experience of massage or yoga. Just come in comfy clothes and get ready to learn some healing magic.
Email email@example.com to book your slot or get your ticket:
With love and kindness,
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