Massage: Lazy Man’s Yoga
Yoga as it has come to mean in today’s world is a set of deliberate, exotic movements that stretch the body. Yoga gives greater flexibility and improved health to its practitioners when it is done right. Thai massage has been called “lazy man’s yoga” because it offers many of the same benefits as yoga stretches do – but without the individual having to do anything on their own. Instead in Thai massage, you are the passive receiver of actions done by a masseur. The masseur stretches, pulls, pinches and manipulates key areas in the body to revitalize and heal it. Hence “lazy man’s yoga.”
Massage vs. Yoga
But Thai massage is not a yoga. Unlike yoga, massage requires the participation of two persons, the masseur and the client or patient. Yoga is mainly a solo exercise made with slow, specific movements. You do the work yourself. The word yoga means “union” and its aim is to unite the human with the spiritual or divine. Thai massage or any massage for that matter, has no such spiritual goal, unless this is meant in a broad sense (i.e. service to mankind). The purpose of massage is to heal and prevent illness.
Thai medicine does have a healing method that resembles yoga. This is known as ruesri dat ton or Thai yoga. These solo exercises work on the whole body, causing it to be healthier, stronger and more flexible just like yoga can. It is simple but very effective when performed according to directions. You may find it safer and easier to do than other types of yoga, such as the yoga made popular in the west. Thai yoga is taught in Thailand to both locals and foreign students at basic and advanced levels. Only about a dozen Thai yoga poses are taught at the beginner level, but these are well-rounded ones that give the whole body an even workout.
Choose What’s Right for You
If you ever visit Thailand and decide to study massage or yoga, make sure you understand the differences between the two. If you prefer to have a massage expert do the work for you while you relax, you can simply go to a Thai massage parlor. If you want to help other people through massage, learn Thai massage. If you want to practice a yoga-like regimen on a daily basis, or perhaps train for meditation, then ruesri dat ton may be for you.