Thai Yoga Bodywork or “Thai Massage” as it is often called, is in an experience like no other. Many who are accustomed to oil-based relaxation massages, and even those who are used to energy work, find this type of bodywork, traditionally named nuad boran, to be quite different.
In its physical expression, the goal of Thai Yoga Bodywork is to assist our vital energy, prana, to move more freely with a combination of static compression, dynamic movement and passive stretching, which removes stagnation in the body. We then feel happier, more at peace and accepting of ourselves. But beyond the physical, Thai Yoga Bodywork is an exchange of metta, meaning loving-kindness in Pali. With metta, the bodywork becomes a meditation in movement, where there is awareness and compassion with what is there in the moment.
In this way, we work with the physical body to become present with the pain behind our suffering. The body reflects what is happening in the other 5 layers of the Self (the koshas). These are our mental, emotional and other energetic states that are more subtle and are not seen. Often, it is our physical pain acting on the material level to ask us to listen and notice what is happening in us in a deeper aspect. Thai Yoga Bodywork very effectively brings us into a deep state of relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. When we’re here, we can with greater ease feel what is going on in those subtle layers. And being in this state also allows for the body to feel safe and secure to activate its own healing process. The body can and will naturally heal itself if we provide the space for it to do so.
10 years ago, I crossed paths with this special healing tradition, knowing full well that it would be one of my great teachers. I knew it would be a part of my life forever, because it had changed my life in just a few hours. Through the gift of a stranger’s touch, care and metta, I felt so incredibly connected to all parts of myself. I learned to be held, to receive, to fully relax and let go (and that it was even possible), to deeply listen to another and to myself, and to feel the rhythmic exchange, the honestly beautiful back-and-forth of giving and receiving between two beings. Too, it reminded me so much of what I experience when I practice yoga—through breath and movement, non-judgmental presence and listening, there is an internal space we can occupy where we re-center and remember who we really are.
For more info on Thai Yoga Bodywork, click here.
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Do you have an experience of metta, or loving-kindness, in any form of bodywork treatment before? Did it make the experience different for you from other treatments you have had? I would love to hear your stories and experiences!