HEALING & YOGA
THE HEALING OF TOUCH AND YOGA
While you have probably been keeping an eye open for different super foods, detox theories, or other healing magic bullet that might be out there, hopefully you haven’t over looked one of the most powerful, and available methods of healing: Touch.
Touch is an intimate phenomenon. When enough pressure to the skin stimulates the sense organs underneath, they send a signal to the central nervous system which is experienced as “touching” with something. The sensation can be read as having different qualities; soft, hard, smooth, hard, delicate, clumsy, and so on. Of course it’s not just tactile information that is experienced. The qualities of touch cue emotional and physiological response as well. Human touch takes it to a whole new level. All objects carry a “current” or charge to them but there is none so beneficially powerful in affect as the welcome touch of another human being.
There is the bonding aspect which creates a release of being-health supporting hormones but there is actually much much more to the healing powers of touch. The charge of another bio-electr0magnetic human body that is welcome to come close, or touch, offers valuable feedback through relativity to the state of one’s own energetic systems. Even more amazingly is that through intention and the willful stepping in to of “giving” and “receiving” roles this flow of energy becomes more direct and notably therapeutic. This is the general premise of Reiki healing, except that in Reiki the practitioner is functioning as a conduit for larger energy systems, ie. universal.
If Reiki seems to far out there for you, Thai massage, offered at Vikasa Yoga, is a more grounded alternative. Thai massage works much like Yoga Asana practice, applying pressure to the body in different positions, emphasizing blood circulation in certain areas, and assisting the movement of lymph fluid. While you might normally think of the cliche image of drifting off dreamily while receiving massage, just like yoga practice, the benefits are increased notably when you breath in sync to the movements of the masseuse and stay alert, yet relaxed, like meditation. Practice being subtly responsive to the massage.
Have a hyper awareness of not only the point of contact but the resulting chain of tissue movement leading to the point of contact and how and where it plays out in your body. Depending on the technique used, say for example in a seated position being massaged from the back, it may be even good to engage stabilizing core muscle. There is also a relationship aspect that is built between you and your masseuse, whether it’s one session or years of patronage.
While receiving Thai massage you can focus on taking your longest slowest deepest breaths. If there is a place the masseuse is working that is especially tight or tense for you, utilize your exhale during the deep tissue pressure. This is also very good during the back massage portion. It can really help to invigorate and cleanse deeper lunge tissues if you breath out steadily while pressure is applied onto the back of the ribcage. Sometimes you can also try breathing out longer and longer and longer….and longer! Having some yoga experience does help, check up Ujjayi breathing and try it during your next massage. Your masseuse will be amazed at how long you breath and the metamorphosis of your thoracic volume!
Practicing Yoga in Thailand than has a great advantage! Massage is prevalent, affordable, and arguably one of the best styles of massage in the world for it’s holistic comprehensiveness and obvious affects.
The practice I’ve had of opening up to touch from the many Thai massage I’ve had has made me more comfortable and confident to put metta(loving kindness) into my own use of touch, in mindful adjustments for my Yoga students and also in my interactions with friends and intimate relationships. Use your touch to show affection, reassure, heal, create bonds, give energy, and merge into one another’s embrace.
I love to practice in the big sala at Vikasa Yoga where the ebb and flow of the Gulf of Thailand beside me reminds me to wash a flow of my own “inner” touch throughout my mind-body, creating awareness, sympathy, and healing. All the positive ways you normally use touch can also be generated inwardly just as much as outwardly.
Thanks for reading and Happy Teacher’s Day from Thailand!
About our Author
George Anthony is a yoga teacher and modern mystic that travels the world training teachers, likes diving into self expanding experiences, and loves to share good energy with all people. He’s the director of Sajeeva Yoga School, musician, artist, novice acrobat, acroyogi, cook, handstand master, and philosopher. Join the vibes!