Most people I come across haven’t heard of Thai Yoga (more popularly known as Thai Massage). I therefore get A LOT of questions about what I do and how I got into it. Sadly, my answer isn’t terribly profound. I can’t really say “by accident”, since, for 2 years before actually signing up, I’d skulked around the website of the center where I was trained; I also can’t say, “Because I had it done and loved it”, since, truth be told, I’d never gone to a practitioner before my training. So, sight unseen, I walked into a 5-day training because something in me was convinced that I’d love bringing this to people. And that’s my answer: Because I just knew it would be another way for me to help people feel and live better.

Thai Yoga focuses on moving lom (energy; what yogis call prana) through the sen (energy lines) of the body. Thai medicine postulates that there are 72,000 sen on the body; Thai Yoga directly addresses the 10 main ones. These lines are not the same as Chinese meridians, though the latter has influenced an understanding of the former. Through the implementation of acupressure, joint rotation and stretching, “congestion” (what we commonly refer to as “knots”) in the sen is broken up and flushed out of the body to allow lom to move freely and make space for fresh energy to enter. Congestion in these lines is what causes illness and disease, muscle aches and pains, digestive and reproductive issues, postural misalignments, and mental imbalances.

In the sessions that I offer, clients lie fully clothed on a padded mat (think of a full-size mattress that’s a bit thicker than a futon’s), and I do the work of stretching and moving them around. I start at the feet and finish with a wonderful head and face massage; in between, I press into legs, arms and backs to loosen congestion, take bodies into twists and stretches to release muscles, and lift bodies into back bends to open chests. People come for all reasons: tight or pulled muscles due to exercise; stress; sinus issues. Mostly, though, they come for routine maintenance, like you’d get a tune-up for your car. Regular sessions have the same effects as yearly physicals, warding off the effects of postural misalignments and lifestyle habits that make us physically and emotionally uncomfortable.

When I do meet people who’ve experienced Thai Yoga, their responses to “What did you think of it?” are usually mixed. I’ll often hear that a treatment was “rough” or that it wasn’t like anything someone’s ever had before…but not in a positive way. The truth is that it does not fit the spa-like image of what many people think a massage is. Thai Yoga is purposeful. Thai Yoga is meant to heal. It can be intense and it can even be painful in places where there’s a lot of congestion, but in the end, people ALWAYS feel more relaxed, energetically cleansed and physically open.

Before coming in for a session, it is important to know that Thai Yoga is not a replacement for any medical treatments and cannot diagnose maladies of any sort. From a holistic care perspective, it is a complimentary modality and should be treated as such. This is why I am so happy to have found a home at Falls Church Wellness Center, where every service offered is a chance to boost your overall well-being,

If you have any questions about whether or not Thai Yoga would be good for you, or if you’d like more information or to schedule a session at Falls Church Wellness Center, please contact me at bethgbyoga@gmail.com.

–Beth Nichols-Howarth is a yoga instructor and Thai Yoga practitioner at Falls Church Wellness Center, and the owner of Get Bent Yoga, LLC.