An authentic guide to Thai yoga massage, a unique therapy that combines stretching, breath work, assisted yoga postures, and pressure point therapy.
• Includes more than 80 illustrations, 30 charts, and a complete series of postures for a two-hour full-body massage.
• Author Kam Thye Chow has taught massage in Thailand and throughout Europe and North America.
Until recently Thai yoga massage was virtually unknown in the West. It has its roots in both the ancient healing traditions of Ayurveda and Thai Buddhism. In this unique practice, the therapist gives a full-body massage that combines palming and thumbing along the Thai energy lines and pressure points with gentle stretching, movement, and breath work reminiscent of tai chi. Using his or her own hands, feet, arms, and legs, the practitioner gently guides the recipient through a series of yoga postures, creating a harmonious and therapeutic “dance” that leads to greater physical awareness, grace, and spiritual energy.
In this comprehensive guide for practitioners, Kam Thye Chow leads readers through every aspect of this dance--from its history and philosophy to a detailed presentation of a complete Thai yoga massage session. This important reference includes more than 80 illustrated postures, 30 charts and drawings, and a complete series of postures for a two-hour full-body massage that focuses attention on both the upper and lower body, which receive equal stress in the Western lifestyle. Information on contraindications, anatomy, and physiology integrates Western medical knowledge and theory with this ancient tradition. Massage therapists, physical therapists, nurses, and other medical professionals will find Thai Yoga Massage an important and innovative complement to their practice.
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.
One of the first Thai yoga massage practitioners in North America, Kam Thye Chow has taught Thai massage in Thailand and throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. The author of Thai Yoga Massage and Thai Yoga Therapy for Your Body Type, he is the founder and director of the Lotus Palm School in Montreal. Kam Thye Chow lives in Montreal.
"Only a true master of Thai massage could present this profound healing art with such clarity and precision, and make it so accessible. The spirit of loving-kindness that pervades Kam Thye's method is essential for healing our world."
– Swami Ramananda, President of the Integral Yoga Institute of New York
"With Thai Yoga Massage Kam Thye Chow establishes himself as one of the leading voices in the development and transmission of this ancient practice. A supremely accessible teacher, Kam Thye is masterful with detail and nuance. This book will open up the healing world of Thai massage to thousands of eager students."
– Stephen Cope, author of Yoga and the Quest for the True Self
"A complete manual of instruction, Thai Yoga Massage is necessary reading for anyone interested in this indigenous healing art and its contemporary practice. Kam Thye Chow is a sensei of the art and spirit of his work."
– Robert Noah Calvert, Founder of Massage Magazine and author of The History of Massage
"Kam Thye Chow is an integrator, one who brings the depth of an ancient tradition into practical application, adapting Thai massage to the needs of our modern lifestyle without losing its integrity. His book is like his work-masterful and full of love. I recommend you read it slowly."
– Rama Berch, President, Yoga Alliance and founder, Master Yoga Foundation
"Thai Yoga Massage offers an intriguing discourse on a little-covered technique."
– The Midwest Book Review, June 2002
"I highly recommend this text for practicioners who are flexible and love floor work."
– Massage Today, November 2003, Vol.3 No.11
"This is a must-have for anyone interested in a dynamic therapy for physical well being."
– Nexus, March/April 2004
"A dynamic guide, therapists should add Thai Yoga Massage to their home instructional reference libraries."
– The Bookwatch, September 2004, Vol.26 No.9
"A well-done book, one I would recommend you add to your collection if you are interested in the art of Thai massage."