SomaVeda™ Thai Yoga and Thai Massage on the portable massage chair
You have to explore this! Thai Yoga on a portable massage chair is the perfect adjunct to your existing practice for so many reasons. Having a portable massage chair opens up the possibility for mobility and the expansion of your practice. First of all, virtually any kind of portable massage chair is suitable. I know there are a good variety of makes and models in different price ranges. I’ve seen them on Craig’s list for as little as $50.00, EBay for $100.00 (new) and up to $500 or $600 retail in some massage magazines. To start with, I recommend a basic, sturdy chair in your lower price range. If you like the work (as I think you will!) then bump it up with some bells and whistles to enhance your sessions like a fully adjustable face cradle, etc. I simply set up the chair and adjust in such a way that I do not have to mess with any settings once I get moving. After all, the whole point of any tool (and a portable massage chair is a tool) is to assist me. I don’t work around the chair, I use the chair!
The chair techniques we use in the Thai Yoga Massage Chair Vinyasa or flows are basically adaptations of the standard seated position flows we already practice. For example, there is a traditional seated flow in every style of Thai Yoga and Thai Massage. Some are very simple like the Seated Position flow in our SomaVeda Fundamentals of Thai Yoga: Level One. Some seated position flows are more exhaustive such as in our Ayurveda Thai Yoga: Level Two, our Nuad Boran, Northern Style Flow in SomaVeda™ Level Three and the more advanced courseswhich we teach in our Certified Thai Yoga Practitioner Program (CTP). The traditional style flows in the seated position on the mat are optimal for perfect body mechanics and have been refined for centuries in various schools. The techniques themselves are not new. The chair application is new and has been in practice for only about 25 years. When I first started teaching chair applications around 1989, we were actually using kitchen chairs and draping clients over the dining room table! The new chair designs are small, lightweight and practical.
We simply and thoughtfully adapt our existing flows and techniques to the client on the chair. It’s very exciting. I’ve always said in class that every time you vary the angle of “attack” or presentation of pressure to the client’s body, body part, line or even variance of your own body position in relation to the client, you are in a new line, a new structure, and you have a new effect.
This is one of the reasons we have five different body attitudes such as the seated position. This is also why we have over one thousand different flows and Asana to bring energy, attention, consciousness, breath and pressure to the client. The upright position and attitude of the chair allows us to explore a different opportunity of bringing these qualities to the client and their lines, points, chakras and meridians in creative new ways.
It is important to refer again to the idea that the chair is not in charge, you are. The chair is only important as a tool. At first glance the design of the chair seems to suggest that there is only one angle for the client to “sit” on the chair, facing into the cradle. Not true! You can have the client sit in any orientation, facing front, side, or with their back to the chair. The arms can be down in front (there is an arm rest), or one arm may be up, tucked behind the back, out forward, to the or side, or both arms can be up with fingers interlaced behind the neck.
Additionally, your own position in regard to the client’s position is also fluid. Your positioning is malleable and changeable according to how you are seeking to bring energy to bear with the client or what lines you want to emphasize. For example, you can stand on either side, in the front, in the back or you can kneel or lunge at any angle. Working the outside leg lines while in a lunge with the inside elbow is very powerful. Speaking of the legs, please don’t forget the legs! As you know if you’ve been practicing your SomaVeda Thai Yoga, the legs, leg lines and Lom (wind Gates), hips and pelvis are very important. Try every variation from all sides, high and low, to find the angles that work best for you. Of course, if you come to class I’d be happy to show you!
Additional ideas for the chair? It is portable and for some off-site demonstrations it might work even better than a mat or table. The park, a trade show, a corporate office, your church, meet-up group, etc. We have taken chairs to all of the above including Yoga conferences, Renaissance fairs and music festivals. Be creative! Once you are comfortable, grab that chair and off you go!
You can integrate a chair session into your existing practice. For example, I have a mat, table and chair in the same room. This gives me the opportunity to change surface and tactics appropriately for the needs of my client as well as my own body mechanics. Just a note here: NEVER sacrifice your core body mechanics or create a mechanical disadvantage in order to bring pressure to bear with a client. Never. Thai Yoga is not about the pressure any way, right? If the angle or technique is awkward or difficult… change it to one that gives you more leverage, control and finesse.
What if you are working on a client who is too uncomfortable to lie down on the mat or you are concerned that they might not be able to safely get up? Put them on the chair! The seated position makes it easy for injured, weak, elderly, or sick clients to come and to go. By way of integration, the chair is marvelous for facials, head, neck and shoulder emphasis as well as reflexology of the head, hands and feet. When we do advanced protocols such as SomaVeda Pancha Karma cleansing and detoxification regimen, we also do aromatherapy, herbal infusions and applications with Sweedana and therapeutic steam. In another article I’ll be happy to explain and demonstrate some of these more advanced concepts.
But for now, enjoy the Thai Chair video, be inspired to explore and expand your practice!
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