I'm over the moon that I passed both exams for Thai Yoga Massage (TYM) and I want to share a short essay of what makes TYM so special in my mind...
"The first time I experienced Thai Yoga Massage was during a Yin Teacher training, where I met a lady who had studied TYM. She embodied loving-kindness especially when she mindfully applied TYM stretches to her fellow students’ tired limbs. It seemed like such a kind gesture and the stretches looked similar moves to our yoga postures. I then attended an ‘introduction to Thai yoga massage day’ (by Kira Balaskas), to help me get more comfortable with my adjustments as a beginning yoga teacher. Not being an overly tactile person by nature, the physical contact whilst teaching yoga classes could feel somewhat alien. During teacher training our teacher encouraged us to give a head or foot massage while people were in Savasana, but it felt awkward and it left me a little insecure, so I thought I probably wouldn’t adopt this routine after I had completed the training.
During the TYM introduction day, I had the first experience of the feeling of connection with an unfamiliar person through the power of touch. The meta-meditation aspect of TYM, applying loving-kindness, creates an energy which connects people. Inspired by this feeling I wanted to attempt some sort of head-rub at the end of my classes and I started to notice a shift in my own perception of contact; instead of dreading it, I noticed myself looking forward to the last part of the class. I would ask people to place their hands on their belly if they ‘didn’t want to be disturbed during Savasana’ if they weren’t open to this potential physical interruption of Savasana, and I started to notice more and more people wanting to receive this small token of connectedness. After class, one student asked me if anyone ever placed their hands on their belly as surely this was the best bit of the practice. In a class where people are encouraged to focus on and observe themselves, while practicing in a space with others, this small action seemed to connect our collective energy.
In a world where disconnection is increasing by modern technology, moving back to the essence of being is getting more difficult as distractions are getting more and more embedded in our daily life. Those holding office jobs, sitting behind computers for hours on end, socialising via social media, are getting locked into their stressed and less flexible bodies with increasingly busy minds. Those busy minds are where the disconnection happens as it is the ego which is being encouraged by these instant gratification social media hits. Quieting the ego, creating space in the physical body and movement in the energetic body will ultimately allow us to start noticing the busy thoughts in our minds. Then we can focus on awareness and curiosity of these thoughts and getting to know the self. TYM allows all these features ‘to be applied’ to the receiver; gentle moving and stretching of the body to create space, moving and stimulating the energy via pressure points and encouraging a deep conscious breath will start creating space in the mind. Every part of the body receives attention, love and care as the energy is moved up through the body, from the feet up towards the head, nothing is missed. Forward folding, inversions, backbends, twists and stretches being applied to the receiver’s body, has those same nourishing qualities it has in yoga. A fluent combination of movin g energy, by palming and thumbing the main 10 energy lines (Sip Sen) with the stretching and moving of the body creates suppleness in the body allowing the energy to move.
Applying loving-kindness creates more compassion and compassion will create more awareness and a feeling of connectedness. Awareness and connection to the deeper layers of yourself, but it also creates a seed for connection to others; real connection, not the virtual, social media kind.
Practicing Thai Yoga Massage has been a revelation for me, it has deepened my understanding of my own yoga practice, it has also helped me understand different bodies types for my teaching skills and it has given me the confidence of using more physical contact with the students coming to my yoga classes. However the best thing that has come out of this training is that it has opened up my heart space, it has allowed me to expand my feeling of connectedness to the world and to others, one Thai Yoga Massage at a time."