I am Planning on doing a whole series of Yoga Stretches used in a Traditional Thai Yoga Massage. Its a great way to consolidate my learning and also share with you the benefits of this type of massage.
The first posture I've chosen is very simple and you can do this at home by yourself or with a partner for that extra stretch.
I have included both versions of the posture, the first with both legs up to the chest and the second with one leg up to the chest. It is worth practising both, they are beneficial for you in different ways.
Reclined Knee to Chest Pose aka Apanasana and
Supta Ardha Apanasana
(Soup-TA ARE-dah ap-AHN-ANS-anna)
Supta - Reclined
Apana- Downward-flowing life force, as opposed to Prana, our vital life force. Apana is the body's detoxifying process. It eliminates waste and toxins.
Apanasana is a very therapeutic pose for the lower back. It can be held for a long period of time in a Yin session or as a counter pose from a back bend. It is very calming and helps with numerous physical and emotional issues.
Its benefits include stretching and stabilizing the pelvis and lower back, and helping with hyperlordosis, sciatic nerve problems, muscle spasm, spinal stenois and disc herniation.
So if you have any sort of pain or aggravation in your lower back area, this is worth a go, roll your back around while you do it, feeling every vertebra, roll gently from side to side, you are massaging the whole of your lower back and it does it the world of good.
Emotionally it can reduce excessive anger, excitement and anxiety and it can help with High Blood Pressure.
Feeling like the world is running away with you? curl up into Apanasana, take some slow calming breathes, hug your knees into your chest, relax and then hug them in again. Repeat. This posture will help calm you down.
Supta Ardha Apanasana is the same posture with only one leg raised and held to the chest.
This can be done solo but it is also a very common posture used in Thai Massage, where you get an extended stretch and it also has lots of benefits.
It stretches and releases tension in the Hip, Thigh, Buttocks and Knee
It increases mobility of the Hip joint.
It relieves gas and bloating of the stomach.
It compresses and massages the Hamstring.
If you are practicing this alone, place your hands on your shin. If you suffer from knee problems or have shin splints, you can place your hands in between your thigh and your calf instead. Squeeze your knee up to your chest, keeping your straight leg completely on the floor.
When applying this stretch to someone else, the Posture is done in Warrior Stance, raise your partner's or client's leg, and after bending it, rest it your hip joint. you will need to adjust your position so you can effectively move their knee into their chest when they exhale. Keep the foot in line with the knee and hold for 3 breathes on each inward stretch.
In a Thai Massage, the practitioner may hold the knee with one hand and massage the Hamstring with the other, or massage into your Hip Flexors and Quadriceps of your straight leg, whilst pushing your knee to your chest.
A Practitioner will most likely align their breath with yours and push down when you exhale and release the stretch when you inhale. This will increase the stretch.
This posture is often one of a series of single leg postures performed in a Thai Massage, I will continue to post more of these techniques, along with the Yoga equivalent and then post the series so you can try it out with a partner.