Thai Yoga Massage Jackson MS
$25 and up
Balancing Act - The Gumby Massage
By Dorothy Foltz-Gray
Kneeling at my feet, her palms on my ankles and her thumbs pressing into the flesh, Thai yoga massage practitioner Ellen Joseph begins working her way up my calves. I am trying to relax as I lie faceup on a futon on the floor of Joseph’s living room. But it’s rough going, at least at first. I’m fully clothed, and I can’t hide my head facedown in a circular headrest as I do in traditional massage. I’m also feeling a little ticklish.
I met Joseph only five minutes ago, on the recommendation of a friend who swears by Thai yoga massage, and I have little idea what to expect. I’ve had plenty of traditional on-the-table, under-the-sheet massages, and this is nothing like those.
But after a few minutes the Indian-inspired music and the aromatic oils Joseph uses begin to relax me—as does her poise and the deftness of her strong hands. Her ease with our sudden intimacy sets an example, and I begin to relax under her touch.
Clearly, this is no standard massage, nor does it resemble any yoga class I’ve ever taken. Little known in the United States only a decade ago, this form of body work—called variously Thai yoga, Thai massage, or Thai yoga massage—is soaring in popularity, appearing on the menus of high-end spas and resorts. “It’s now one of our top offerings,” says Bonnie Campbell, a certified massage therapist and yoga instructor at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts, where the treatment has been offered for three years.
It’s a beneficiary of the recent boom in yoga and other forms of body work. What distinguishes it is the element of passive stretching, which seems to enhance the effects of both yoga and massage. You stretch deeper (yoga) and as a result, your muscles get more of a working over (massage).
How does it work? When you stretch a muscle unassisted, the opposing muscles are forced to contract. Loosen the hamstring muscles at the back of your thighs, for instance, and the quadriceps in front will begin to tighten up. But if someone else is doing the stretching for you, both sets stay relaxed, so you can stretch further.
“It’s like having yoga done to you,” says the friend who had urged me to try it. “It has the benefits of stretching and moving without all the effort.” She promises that afterward I will feel both energized and relaxed.
It sounds a little too good to be true, but I’m drawn to the idea of combining stretches with massage, particularly to soothe my chronically aching back and overtight running muscles.
The practice has ancient roots—it was first developed in India as part of the ayurvedic system of healing. One of its early practitioners traveled to Thailand and introduced it to Buddhist monks there, who found it deepened their meditation practice.
The present-day version combines acupressure and shiatsu (a Japanese massage technique similar to acupressure) with stretches and yoga positions. The therapist focuses on meridians, the body’s energy pathways that...
Author: Dorothy Fotlz-Gray
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