The Practice of Thai Yoga
Thai yoga is the hermit's healing art. it is believed to have evolved from practices used by monks and hermits to keep themselves healthy and fit for meditation. Today the art of Thai yoga or Ruesri Dat Ton is available to anyone who wants to use a safe and effective form of exercise to promote health.
In Thailand, the practice of Thai Yoga - Ruesri Dat Ton - are typically preformed early in the morning, around the time of sunrise. This is the best time to practice Thai yoga because during this time the air is fresh and fully charged with potent vital energy. By breathing in the morning air as you practice Thai yoga, you are helping your body remove the blockages in the sen lines and restoring your health and vitality.
At Wat Po, students practice together by the garden where the foot massage school is at, every morning.
Note to meditation practitioners: Observe caution in your practice. Give your body and mind plenty of rest before you do any mental exercise. How you incorporate Thai yoga in your routine will depend on the system you use. But make sure you follow directions and take all necessary precautions. For instance, make sure your stomach is not full and that you have voided before practice. Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
Basic Thai yoga consists of 18 postures performed in a fixed order. Each pose must be executed in a specific manner to gain its full benefits. A single pose is repeated 3-5 times in each Thai yoga session. You can practice your routine as a warm up before a heavy workout, or as a way to wind down afterwards.
In all there are over one hundred (and up to two hundred, depending on how and where you receive instruction) postures in Ruesri Dat Ton. More advanced poses are taught in schools to students who have mastered the basic ones.
The book Traditional Thai Yoga: The Postures and Healing Practices of Ruesri Dat Ton describes 60 important poses of Thai yoga and their health benefits.
Thai yoga should be learned first-hand from a qualified teacher of Ruesri Dat Ton. Trying the exercises on your own without supervision or advice from your doctor could be dangerous.
Both the practice of Thai yoga and the reception of traditional Thai medicine should always be undertaken after careful consideration. Also, it should be noted that the first few sessions of Thai massage treatment may be painful. The pain is caused by the blockages in the sen lines that restrict or even negate the proper flow of energy. But after a few sessions, the pain will cease and then a feeling of deep relaxation and rejuvenation will follow.
Here is a helpful set of precautions and some advice that is taught in Wat Po to students who learn the practices of Thai yoga:
- Movements should be slow and steady so the body and joints are not unduly stressed
- Be well-rested, mentally and emotionally calm, and clean prior to the practice of Thai yoga/receiving a Thai massage. Thai people are very strict on personal hygiene and being calm and collected is not only conducive to obtaining the best benefit from the session, it is also shows respect for Thai culture.
- When attempting Thai yoga on your own, never perform a stretch that you cannot do on your own - seek help to prevent harm to your body.
- Once you are finished never suddenly stop, especially when you are tired. Instead, wait for your pulse and breathing to return to normal as you slowly walk around. This is very important, especially in extremely hot and humid climates such as that of Thailand. Ignoring this directive may lead to DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), which is a potentially dangerous blood clot in a vein.
- Never perform Thai yoga (or any other stretching movement) quickly or overextend the muscles and joints to get a 'good stretch'. Doing so may damage the muscle and its connective tissue, and the joints around it.
- To obtain the maximum therapeutic benefit of Thai yoga, perform each stretch 3 to 5 times.
- If you can not perform Thai yoga once each day, then perform Thai yoga 3 times per week for not more than 20 minutes at a time.
- If you have had a hip or knee replacement surgery, do not receive a Thai massage or practice Thai yoga without first consulting a physician.
- If you have had surgery on a joint, do not bend the joint more than 90 degrees. This is especially important for people with knee or hip replacements.
- If you do not exercise often, make sure you perform some 'warm-up' stretches prior to practicing Thai yoga or getting a traditional Thai massage. The practice of Thai yoga can be demanding for such simple movements, and a Thai massage requires that one is put into certain positions that are not normally used.
- Never stretch beyond what is comfortable to you. Severe joint inflammation can result otherwise.
- Never perform Thai yoga or get a traditional Thai massage when there is joint pain and swelling. Instead, have a traditional Thai medicine practitioner examine you first, and follow his or her advice.
You can visit the online Thai massage bookstore to find books and DVDs on traditional Thai medicine, Thai culture and language and travel to Thailand.
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