Words on Wellness
ON TAKING THAI ONE – by Tamara Ulisko
When I signed up for the Thai One course, the butterflies in my gut started dancing with anticipation. Would it be fun? Scary? Enlightening? What to expect?
The day arrived, and I made my way to Still Light. What a space! Nestled inside a converted toy factory, it has huge windows, old wood floors, and the airiness of post-and-beam – made cozy with beautifully embroidered mats and pillows, the Thai cushions that would become our work surfaces.
Sabrina Pacini, our teacher, led us through an opening meditation, introducing us to the concept of metta, or loving kindness, the golden thread that weaves its way through the postures. And then there were the introductions; fascinating to learn how each student had found their way to Thai Massage! Thai Massage is a synthesis of different modalities (massage, yoga, martial arts, buddhism, ayurveda), and so tends to attract people from different backgrounds. You can be sure that your fellow students will be an interesting mix! Over the course of Thai One the other students also became my teachers, sharing their unique insights and expertise.
As for learning the actual Thai Massage moves? Well the first time Sabrina demonstrated a sequence of 4-6 moves I thought “I’ll never remember all that!” But in her gentle supportive way she guided us through as we practiced, giving us the chance to focus on our body positioning. As you give the massage you come in and out of stances reminiscent of yoga poses, mostly kneeling or lunging, but oriented to the person you’re working on. And at first it feels anything but natural! Which knee up? Which hand crosses over? Initially your maneuverings feel clumsy and choppy, but by the second run-through they are becoming smoother…. Your body absorbs the poses and you begin to feel the inherent logic of the sequence, dancing through the ins-and-outs, the rights-and-lefts, all the movements that make for a balanced massage and an exquisite choreography. No wonder it feels as good to give as to receive!
Some of the Thai Massage moves look so bold, so gymnastic, that initially you might have some apprehension about applying them to anyone… but that disappears once you’ve had the experience of receiving. “Ahhhh,” you think, “so that’s how that feels!” And how it feels is wonderful. Next time it’s your turn to give the massage you are emboldened, knowing how good it feels to be on the receiving end. And giving that good feeling adds to your own bliss!
And that’s probably how you’ll spend much of your time in Thai One – in a state of deep relaxation, of bliss. We spent half the course giving massage, and the other half receiving, all of it imbued with the spirit of metta. It hardly felt like work, and yet there was the satisfaction of feeling the practice evolve, already feeling the beginnings of flow.
Thanks to Sabrina for teaching Thai One and making it such a wonderful experience!
Any thoughts on your own Thai Massage learning experience? Please post them below, we’d love to hear them!