When I decided to give structure to my love for body work I found myself in front of a really hard choice. With so many interesting and valid massage techniques available I found myself asking; why choose Traditional Thai Yoga Massage (TYM) – especially when I did not know much about it at the time? My gut feeling was that this was a healing art that I would love to practice and that it would have been a wonderful complement to what I had to offer to my clients – and truly it is! If you are not familiar with TYM, then I hope you’ll enjoy this brief introduction.
History & Philosophy
TYM is an ancient holistic practice rooted in the Indian systems of Yoga and Ayurveda and further on influenced by Buddhism. Developed and handed down through the generations, it was never seen as just massage but as a spiritual practice. It supports the body’s natural ability for balance and it is said to be “the physical application of loving kindness”.
TYM uses an energy line system (think Chinese Medicine meridians for a more familiar example), through which the body’s natural life force flows. Blockages in these energy pathways will cause aches, pains and disease – hence the principal aim of TYM is to release blocked energy and to free the body’s healing potential, restoring balance and harmony.
The practitioner uses her thumbs, palms, elbows, knees and feet to apply a combination of acupressure, gentle rocking and twisting, joints and spine mobilisations and assisted yoga stretches. With the therapist using body weight instead of strength and a steady meditative rhythm supported by the natural flow of breath, TYM looks and feels like a graceful dance between giver and receiver. As much as the client is receiving the benefits of the massage, the therapist also experiences the benefits of a form of moving meditation. Her work being fully supported by mindfulness, awareness and concentration.
TYM’s wonderful yoga-based stretches are secondary and do not need to be integral to the treatment – however, for those able to receive them, these great stretches really enhance the experience and benefits of the session.
Fun trivia: TYM stretches offer similar benefits to the active poses with the only difference being that you just need to relax. This is why some refer to TYM as to Lazy Yoga 🙂 In my experience this is a wonderful way of helping one change her/his own proprioception, facilitating the feeling for improved ease and better range of movement.
Although the main emphasis is usually on prevention (it is believed that all disease manifests first on the energy level and can be treated there before it becomes physical), TYM can be of great therapeutic benefit for a range of specific problems and conditions. As muscles are stretched, inner organs are toned and emotional and nervous tension are balanced.
TYM can greatly aid musculo-skeletal issues such as back pain, knee pain, shoulder and neck tension, general joint pain and post-traumatic tissue imbalance and restrictions. It can support better range of movement in joints and assists alignment and postural integrity of the body. It is especially effective for numbness or loss of feeling in certain conditions – such as Multiple Sclerosis or after a stroke. TYM also helps with menstruation problems, headaches, insomnia and other stress related conditions as well as; digestive disorders, breathing and circulation. It is a truly wonderful treatment to receive during pregnancy.
The treatment improves flexibility, relaxes, restores and energises but also facilitates the natural ability of the body to get rid of toxins. Often a deep sense of peace and relaxation can be experienced during and after a treatment. At times people might experience a deep need to rest and their energy level really drops. This is not necessarily a bad thing, rather it is the sign that the body is getting rid of toxins to generate more energy. Some will find that a single treatment can radically alter their perception of body and sense of self, while others will require a longer period of treatments to achieve the same result.
How Does A Session Look?
One of the things I like the most about TYM is that it can be performed wherever there is enough floor space for both the receiver to comfortably rest and the therapist to move. As the receiver is dressed in light loose clothing, all that is really needed is a firm futon or a mat on the floor. Typically a session lasts between 1.5-2 hours, but can also be shortened to 1 hour to work on specific areas.
2 top tips for receiving better
- To experience TYM at its best one should be aware of really letting go. Being relaxed whilst being manipulated is not easy for everyone, focusing on your natural breathing can be very helpful.
- Secondly, I always encourage clients to offer their feedback during the massage – should they feel the need for it. Pressure can be given with a certain vigour and it is important for the receiver to feel comfortable with the level of touch offered by the therapist.
Have you ever received a TYM treatment? What did you think? If not, does it sound like something you’d like to try? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below and while you’re here be sure to sign up to my mailing list to keep in touch.
Thanks for reading!