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Practice Thai Yoga Massage with your partner to get a deeper stretch.
Imagine your spine lengthening, your hips opening, your shoulders releasing, all without your doing a thing. Ah, this is the bliss of a Thai yoga massage, an ancient healing art that is said to date back to the time of the Buddha. Thai massage can feel like a nurturing, effortless yoga practice in which your partner moves your body in and out of postures, enticing your muscles into gentle stretches and your mind into deep relaxation.
Legend has it that the practice began in India more than 2,500 years ago, then migrated to Thailand, where it was performed in temples and regarded as a spiritual practice. In offering a massage, the giver cultivates the four divine states, or brahma viharas, of Buddhist practice: metta (lovingkindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy), and uppekha (equanimity). In this way, a Thai massage becomes both a meditation and an offering of sublime kindness. Bringing this spirit to a massage makes it truly healing for both giver and receiver.
The theory of Thai massage is based on the belief that prana (life energy) flows through the body along a network of channels (similar to the nadis in Ayurveda or meridians in Chinese medicine) and that stimulating and balancing prana creates a deep feeling of relaxation, vitality, and renewal.
The following sequence is an introduction to the art of Thai massage—and an appropriate offering to a friend, lover, or family member. To practice this sequence, both partners should be in good physical health and free of injuries or any serious medical condition.
Ask the receiving partner to be generous with feedback. Adjust the pressure as needed, and stop immediately if anything doesn’t feel comfortable and healing. Be open to enjoying the role of giver as much as receiver and to receiving the healing energy of the practice, regardless of your role.
Close the Practice
Ask your partner to remain in Savasana. Reconnect with the intention you set for the massage. Then, making a triangle with your thumbs and index fingers touching, let your hands hover over your partner’s forehead as you send healing energy to her.
Meditate in silence as you allow your partner to be completely still for 10 minutes or longer. At the end of Savasana, you can gently hold her ankles and use a soft voice or a bell to guide her back into her body.
Saul David Raye, who modeled this sequence with Kathryn Kovarik, teaches yoga and Thai massage.