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  • Writer's pictureThalien Colenbrander

Thai Yoga Massage: My Spiritual Gym

Updated: Jun 3, 2023

80% of the massage bookings I get at retreat centres are via word of mouth. Although I have a beautiful flyer in the wellness menu's explaining what it is I offer, when people read ‘Thai’ they are often put off. When I inquire why that is, they almost invariably tell me of an experience they had involving PAIN. I can’t blame them, because that was my impression too. I tried a Thai massage once while in Thailand back in 2010. It found it very unpleasant. It felt rough, painful and unpersonal. And so I figured it’s not my thing and that was that.

Fast-forward to 2021 when I quite literally stumbled into a Thai Yoga Massage treatment with the skilful and talented Cátia Garcia (who soon became my teacher) but not before hearing multiple, first-hand, highly positive and intriguing accounts. The rest is history...

I’m tempted to rebrand my massage name to something like 'alchemy of touch' to avoid bias and because it encapsulates the essence of this type of bodywork so much better. But I want to honour the tradition, the lineage and my teachers, so I will stick to Thai Yoga Massage and keep on rectifying misconceptions wherever I can.

So, what 𝘪𝘴 Thai Yoga Massage?

Thai Yoga Massage (𝘯𝘶𝘢𝘥 𝘣𝘰𝘳𝘢𝘯) is a unique and powerful healing art that combines acupressure, stretching and assisted yoga (and kneading, squeezing, holding, scooping, twisting, vibrating, rocking, shaking, holding, the list goes on) to stimulate the free flow of energy, facilitating the homeostasis of body, mind and soul. ​It is carried out on a padded mat on the floor, and the receiver remains fully dressed. ​​

Traditionally, Thai massage was offered on the grounds of Buddhist temples and was an extension of spiritual practise, particularly meditation. The emphasis is on deeply listening and responding, rather than doing or fixing. The act of listening invites me to continuously respond to meet the client’s specific needs in each moment. This means that there is no set format for the massage itself, so no two Thai massages are the same. The treatment may be slow and relaxing or faster and more invigorating. It all depends.

Now here comes the scoop.

This focus on deeply listening and responding, rather than doing or fixing, really pinpoints why I’m so in love with this work and why it’s so much more to me than ‘just a massage’. It’s a way of life. My highest goal is to live in alignment with my essence, my soul, my purpose. Because when I do that, I get to stand in my power and apply myself in ways that optimally supports growth, connection, transformation for myself and others. And that’s all I want.

And so I continuously have my antenna out, deeply listening to inner and outer cues to direct my meandering path through this often loud and confusing world. Listening, and seeking to respond rather than react.

Within this framework, Thai Yoga Massage is my practise. My spiritual gym. My ritual. My continued affirmation and offering of who I am and what I came here to do. This shit is sacred (fun fact: I mistyped and wrote ‘Thai shit is scared’ 😆). Because its sacred to me – my intention, intuition and attunement are literally palpable to the receiver. This results in an incredibly safe space for the receiver, often evoking significant emotional releases, realisations and the breakthrough of systematic patterns and tension.

My sessions last 90-120 min and I always analyse them (after the client has left the room) to understand why I did what I did and what happened, and this is my understanding of it. The work is no doubt holistic, energy-based and even somewhat mystical: a.k.a. an ‘alchemy of touch’.

One of the ways I try to rectify misconceptions and promote my work and the art of Thai Yoga Massage in general, is to collect testimonials and shamelessly smear them all over the internet.

Have you ever tried a Thai Yoga massage? What was it like? If you haven't, I really hope this post has brought you one step closer to one day finding yourself on a mat. Maybe with me, who knows! :-)

xx Thalien

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