From Chapter 1
Thai massage is performed on the floor in loose and comfortable clothing. In receiving Thai Yoga Massage one is also receiving the benefits of the practice of yoga. This technique has been described as assisted Hatha yoga. A Thai Yoga Massage also incorporates martial arts moves, rhythmic motion, palming and thumbing along energy lines, gentle stretching, and breathwork, creating a slow, flowing "dance" around and with the recipient's body.
In addition to stretching and tonifying the muscles, Thai Yoga Massage improves circulation, relieves muscular tension and spasm, helps expedite metabolism, boosts the immune system, and balances the body energetically, inducing a calm mental state. This practice provides the recipient with both a physical and an energetic massage.
On the walls of the Wat Pho temple in Bangkok are numerous depictions illustrating the sen lines on the body and specific points along each sen. King Rama III commanded this work of art in 1832, and it still stands today as a foundational source of historic Thai massage knowledge. In 1977 the Association of the Traditional Medical School in Thailand published a book in Thai presenting the medical texts of King Rama III, much of it based on the Wat Pho drawings. In the text, and in the temple, many of the diagrams demonstrating the sen lines are incomplete and the direction of the sen lines unclear. My teacher, Asokananda, and I have spent the last years researching the energy lines as knowledge passed through an unbroken lineage of ancient Thai massage masters. With this research we have been able to identify the key healing properties of the sen lines and continue to map out their pathways on the body.
While the sen are not specifically worked in every Thai Yoga Massage movement, they are engaged every time the practitioner palms or thumbs the feet, legs, abdomen, chest, arms and hands, back, and face. The yoga-assisted postures in Thai Massage often engage several sen simultaneously. These stretching movements complement the palming and thumbing work, providing a comprehensive bodywork strategy.
The therapeutic basis of Thai Yoga Massage is strongly rooted in the Indian healing tradition of Ayurveda. The word ayurveda derives from two Sanskrit words: ayur, meaning "life," and veda, meaning "knowledge." Together these words describe a concept of harmonious living; as a body of knowledge, Ayurveda functions as a guide to the proper maintenance of life. The Ayurvedic approach to healing is still practiced in India and Sri Lanka, and is now receiving more recognition in the West for its ability to treat the body as a whole. Thai massage developed as an assisted-yoga practice, the rhythm and intensity by which a pose was executed being guided by Ayurvedic principles of constitution: slow and gentle for vata, nonvigorous and relaxing for pitta, energetic and fiery for kapha. Within Thailand the Ayurvedic link to Thai massage has been all but lost; one of the aims of the Lotus Palm method is to bridge the practice of Thai Yoga Massage to its ancient Ayurvedic roots. This does not mean that we intend to operate as Ayurvedic doctors, but rather we integrate some general Ayurvedic principles into our work. This is comparable to shiatsu massage, where practitioners employ the principles of traditional Chinese medicine but are not traditional Chinese medical doctors.