Thai Yoga Massage and Reflexology with Eric Spivack
This weekend, I’m taking a workshop on Thai Yoga Massage and Reflexology for the feet and lower legs with Eric Spivack, who’s a certified Thai Massage and Viniyoga instructor.
I don’t have any intention of becoming a massage therapist or doing Thai Yoga massage, but I do have a long-running fetish for learning as much as possible about the anatomy, physiology, and energetic quality of the feet. The feet seem to be something of a forgotten area for most people, and I guess in a way it makes sense because most of us are encouraged to live in our heads, and the feet are the furthest away from the head.
I wanted to learn about the energy meridians and Sen lines. I want to understand why the ancient people thought parts of the feet had any correspondence with the rest of the body and the internal organs.
I’m finding that I’m not as “satisfied” with getting all my questions answered in this workshop. Maybe I am too much in my head :). Maybe this is the place to slow down my need to intellectualize everything. I would ask why, why, why, and Eric would gently tell me that this is not the scope of this class (he has a certification program, where I’m sure he goes into much more technical details.)
What I *am* getting, however, is a lot of practice giving and receiving foot massages, and my feet are singing hallelujah right now. I’ve also gained an appreciation for massage therapists and how hard they work. Giving massages is pretty intense for the body (who knew? ;)).
I’m also getting a glimpse at the rich tradition and history of Thai Yoga Massage, from the times of the Buddha, starting with Dr. Jivaka Komarabhacca, or Doctor Shivago (*not* Zhivago, for you smart asses ;)). I learned the Pali prayer or invocation before a practitioner touches the body of a client, which is:
Om namo Shivago silasa ahang karuniko sapasatanang osata tipa-mantang papaso suriya-jantang. Gomalapato paka-sesi wantami bantito sumethasso arokha sumana-homi.
Piyio-tewa manussanang piyo-proma namuttamo piyo nakha supananang pininsiang name-mihang namo puttaya navon-navien nasatit-nasatien ehi-mama navien-nawe napai-tang-vien navien. Mahaku ehi-mama piyong-mama namo puttaya.
Na-a na-wa rokha payati vina-santi.
It roughly translates to:
We invite the spirit of our founder, the Father Doctor Shivago, who comes to us through his saintly life. Please bring to us the knowledge of all nature, that this prayer will show us the true medicine of the Universe. In the name of this mantra, we respect your help and pray that through our bodies you will bring wholeness and health to the body of our client.
The Goddess of Healing dwells in the heavens high, while mankind dwells in the world below. In the name of the Founder, may the heavens be reflected in the earth below so that this healing medicine may encircle the world.
We pray for the one whom we touch, that he will be happy and that any illness will be released.
Why Pali? It was the language of classical Buddhist texts, and Thai massage has a strong tie to Buddhism. In fact, Thai Medicine’s four major areas are:
- Herbal medicine
- Nutritional medicine
- Spiritual practice – Theravada Bhuddism
- Physical medicine – Thai Yoga Massage
I barely touched the tip of the iceberg this weekend, learning just a bit about Thai reflexology, but I’ll be putting it all to good use very soon. My mom is a hair dresser, and, as she stands on her feet all day, she suffers from a lot of pain in her feet. Given everything my mom has done for me, I’m hoping to show her how I appreciate all that by making her my guinea pig for practicing what I learned.