What is Thai Yoga?


Thai Yoga has the same origins as Thai Massage, or Nuad Bo Rarn but is certification through the yoga tradition as opposed to the massage tradition. The man who in Asia is known as the father of medicine, Shivago Komarpaj, brought Nuad Bo Rarn to the world, which means “to impart sacred healing” or “sacred massage”. A native of India, Shivago Komarpaj was a skilled Ayurvedic physician, said to have even been the personal physician to the Lord Buddha. His works eventually spread to Thailand where Buddhist monks were trained in the sacred art of Nuad Bo Rarn. In their holy temples they would do this practice on one another to prepare themselves for meditation. Temples, in that land, were also hospitals, which demonstrated a mature understanding of the link between the physical and the spiritual. People went to the temple-hospital for the “whole” healing experience. Nuad Bo Rarn was integral in that process.

So much of Komarpaj’s teachings have been lost, largely attributed to the late 1700’s Burmese invasion of Siam when ancient palm leaves, upon which these teachings were recorded, were burned. In the mid-1800’s, King Rama III felt it was of utmost importance to gather and preserve whatever records still remained and had them chiseled or painted into the stone of the Wat Pho temple in Bangkok.

Thai Yoga, the “Restorative Partner” way

Syl Carson is the founding director of Bodhi Yoga, located in Provo, Utah (www.gobodhiyoga.com). She developed the beautiful tradition known as Restorative Partner Yoga. Stemming from the tradition of Thai Yoga, Syl developed a synergistic approach where not only is the Receiver benefiting from the session, but the Giver, too–hence, the “partnership”. In this partnership, both are coming in and out of yoga postures, mirroring breath, and having marma points and sen lines worked simultaneously. With this foundation, every session is gentle and altogether restorative unlike its more aggressive and oft-times jarring “twin”, Thai massage. I was trained in this approach under Syl’s experienced and inspired hands. For my own purposes, I have chosen to maintain the name Thai Yoga but honor the approach of Restorative Partner Yoga in every session.

How is Thai Yoga different from Massage?

Unlike traditional massage therapy, Thai Yoga is not anatomically based (at least traditionally) and does not involve muscle manipulation. Before Western science made it legal, dissection was strictly forbidden. Thai Yoga bases its practice on generations of intuitive expertise, steeped in a deep understanding of how energy flows through the body. These channels of energy are known as sen lines. Though in theory there are reportedly over 72,000 sen lines, in practice Thai Yoga works with ten main sen lines.

Thai Yoga is a beautiful companion to traditional massage therapy. Where a massage therapist can manipulate a tight muscle, can stimulate the lymphatic system, and release trigger points, Thai Yoga can harness prana, stretch the muscles, and subtly yoke mind, body and spirit. Of course there is inevitably cross-over here. A talented massage therapist, for example, though he bases his practice in anatomy, can weave energy work into his practice. A talented Thai Yogi, though he bases his practice in sen energy lines, can integrate western anatomical understanding of the body into his work.



Thai Yoga is not practiced on a table, but on a soft pad rolled out on the floor. The Receiver wears comfortable clothes that enable lots of movement. Each session is between 90-120 minutes. Thai Yoga is a synergistic blend of marma point pressure, running sen lines, flowing into deep stretches, easing into yoga postures…and always, focusing on the breath.

How can Thai Yoga help me?

Whether you’re flexible and experienced in yoga or just starting out, Thai Yoga meets you wherever you’re at. In truth, it has far-reaching benefits for all body types. It is a restorative practice that can counteract the ill effects of living in a modern, fast-paced world. It can be an amazing boon for those suffering with chronic pain, those in rehabilitation, or even those that are grieving or are clinically depressed. Postures can be modified for an excellent addition to prenatal care or injury recovery. The possible benefits are endless.

And consider, the best way to get a feel for Thai Yoga is to experience it first-hand. How do you describe bliss? How do you describe restoration? How do you describe healing? You just know it when you feel it. Schedule an appointment today!

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