For many centuries, Thai people have practiced a set of physical exercises known collectively as Ruesri Dat Ton. Because its slow movements resemble Hatha yoga as popularized in the West, some practitioners have dubbed the art “Thai yoga.”
As those who are fortunate enough to have discovered it know, Ruesri Dat Ton is a wonderful exercise that just about anyone can practice for oneself, whether for health, meditation or enjoyment. The postures of Ruesri Dat Ton are designed to restore and harmonize the flow of vital force or prana through energy pathways called sen. In Traditional Thai Medicine, which it is a part of, it is believed that the unimpeded and balanced flow of energy through these channels is beneficial to human health.
In Thai, ruesri dat ton means “ascetic self-stretching” or “hermit’s self-stretching,” “hermit’s twist,” etc. As the name indicates, Thai yoga is believed to have originated among ancient hermits and ascetics who used special exercises to keep healthy and help with meditation. Its traditional founder is Shivago Komarpaj, the Buddha’s physician, who is also the patron of Traditional Thai Medicine.
Ruesri Dat Ton isn’t the same as Hatha yoga, and the two should not be confused. However they do seem to impart many of the same benefits to the mind and body. Some people also use the term “yoga” when referring to Thai massage because Thai massage is like having another person do yoga on oneself.
Thai yoga is one of the great treasures of Traditional Thai Medicine, and perhaps its best-kept secret. While many people have heard of and experienced Thai massage and its health benefits, the art of Thai yoga is still largely unknown outside of Thailand.
Benefits of Thai Yoga
The positive effects of Thai yoga resemble those of traditional Thai massage. But unlike Thai massage, which requires the help of a Thai massage practitioner, the healing postures of Ruesri Dat Ton are performed alone.
Practitioners and teachers of Thai yoga have observed that its regular, correct practice:
- Warms up the body prior to doing meditation or a sporting activity
- Gives the body a well-rounded workout
- Increases flexibility
- Improves blood circulation
- Improves breathing capacity
- Improves mood and keeps the mind clear
- Helps treat muscle pain
- Relaxes and cools down the body after exercise
In conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle, Thai yoga practice can help keep you physically, emotionally and mentally balanced.
Thai Yoga and Meditation
As far as meditation goes, a system like Thai yoga is extremely helpful in gaining mastery over one’s body, vital energy and mind. Regular yoga practice for meditation:
- Develops poise, calmness and balance
- Increases self-awareness
- Develops breath control
- Harmonizes flow of vital energy (“prana”)
- Develops ability to relax the body
- Stills the mind
- Purifies and energizes the body
Ruesri Dat Ton is ideal for occult practitioners, mystics and yogis. Mastery of posture, breathing, vital power, self-awareness and relaxation are critical to success in occult and mystical practices. Thai yoga helps in all cases.