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What Is Yogic Massage? How Yogic Massage Found Me

by Narayani Guibarra(more info)

listed in yoga, originally published in issue 101 - July 2004

As a yoga teacher and healer I wished to expand my range of therapies and became interested in holistic massage. I searched the Internet and found a course that sounded very appealing. However, what interested me perhaps even more was another course by the same teacher on yogic massage. I suppose it was the word 'yogic' that caught my interest and fired my imagination – how appropriate it seemed for a yoga teacher also to practise a therapy called yogic massage! Could this be what I was looking for? I decided to take things step by step and take the introductory weekend course in holistic massage and, in the interim, went for a session with the course tutor, Brigette Hass.

How Yogic Massage Came to Be

Yogic massage was developed by Brigette Hass who trained as a massage therapist and has also trained in the fields of healing, movement awareness and energy awareness. She is a tutor of the MTI and also teaches holistic massage, energy awareness, dance and movement and meditation. Yogic massage is a synthesis of Brigette's experiences of giving and receiving various forms of treatment and is guided by her intuition and energy awareness.

My First Experience of Yogic Massage

The first thing that I became aware of in this session with Brigette was that yogic massage is a form of healing. I realized that at first there was a tuning in, in what way I did not know, but as soon as Brigette placed her hands on my feet I could feel a great deal of healing energy flowing into me from her hands. I knew I was receiving something very powerful. As the session progressed and other bodywork techniques were introduced my interest was stimulated further.

At various intervals within the session there would be a pause, a holding, a deep listening, a time to assess, a time to release, a time to let go. In this way it is somewhat comparable to cranial sacral therapy whereby in my experience the listening is undertaken both by practitioner and recipient. In yogic massage, the listening enables the practitioner to feel, sense or intuit which areas need work and which of the bodywork techniques are to be used in that session. The body stretches are often held for longer than those that might be employed by a shiatsu practitioner or massage therapist. This is very reassuring on the receiving end and I have found myself more fully able to let go.

The Next Step

On the introductory weekend, Brigette said that the yogic massage practitioner course was ideal for someone already grounded in massage therapy and working with clients who was interested in learning more about working with energy. Considering my experience as a yoga teacher and my work with energy healing, I asked whether I would be a suitable candidate. It seemed as though I was approaching from an energy direction rather than from massage. After some reflection, Brigette offered me a place on the course.

How Does Yogic Massage Compare To Other Forms Of Therapy/Healing?

Yogic Massage

Is a form of massage but does not involve the repetition of the strokes or squeezes or deeper tissue work that may be included in a massage session. Yogic massage can be received with or without clothes and combines body/ energy work.

Osteopathy

From memory, some of the techniques used in yogic massage are reminiscent of osteopathy in the way that finger pressure is used around joints. The main areas of overlap of the two types of treatment would seem to me to be around the shoulder blade/head/ neck areas. In my experience, yogic massage has been more effective as the practitioner has a deeper understanding of my being on an energy level and so I have felt that the treatment has been more holistic.

Shiatsu

In many respects I would say that these two are the most similar out of those I can compare from my own experience. When making this comparison I am using the following criteria:

In what way does the practitioner use bodywork on the recipient?

With shiatsu the bodywork consists considerably of finger or palm pressure either into the pressure points or joints or muscles. The difference is that with shiatsu the pressure is generally vertically downwards whereas with yogic massage (in respect of the palm mainly) the pressure is often diagonally outwards (i.e away from the centre) and downwards.

Is it an holistic practice?

Shiatsu is an holistic practice as is yogic massage.

Is there an element of healing?

Certain schools of shiatsu include off-body scanning and healing, but in my experience up to now, this is used not nearly as much as in yogic massage.

Do practitioners use their awareness to sense what is going on for the recipient on an emotional/physical/ energy level?

Here there is a strong similarity, as shiatsu practitioners do use their awareness of energy both intuitively and via body scans to assess how recipients are feeling and what is happening with their energy so that the necessary treatment may be assessed.

Energy (spiritual) Healing

In certain respects, as with other forms of energy healing, there are similarities between the healing element both of spiritual healing and yogic massage. When performing spiritual healing, I ask to be a channel through which healing energy may flow to the recipient. In yogic massage, the practitioner also transmits healing energy through the hands. However, the difference has been the amount I have opened up. It's almost as though the channel is wide open in spiritual healing and energy comes through very strongly. With yogic massage, the channel is perhaps on a different frequency so that other subchannels may simultaneously be accessed in order to allow a fine and delicate quality of healing energy through. This can readily be noticed by recipients who focus their awareness on their experience of the treatment.

Another difference between these two therapies is that yogic massage, whilst having particular bodywork techniques to offer, encourages a free style of treatment based on the answers received from the listening, both energetically and verbally, that takes place throughout the session. In this way, the recipients receive what they need and this process, together with the pauses, uses less energy by the practitioner and allows a very fine quality of energy to flow through to the recipient during the session.

So the difference perhaps between spiritual healing and yogic massage is that with the former I simply act as a channel for the energy to flow through and with the latter I act partially as a channel and partially as a receiver of information whether by sensations in the hands or inner knowing.

The Role of Awareness

My awareness has been growing and changing in the eleven plus years since I began practising yoga and meditation. It is from some of the simplest practices of breath co-ordinated with movement that I have become aware of and tuned in to energy. However, it is through the gentle opening and deep listening and checking in or asking what it is that I can sense that I have been encouraged to do through yogic massage, and this has very easily and quickly increased my sensitivity and awareness. It is also useful to recipients to remain aware and awake throughout the treatment in order to observe any changes.

What Makes Yogic Massage 'Yogic'?

The word yoga means union of mind, body and spirit. Giving a yogic massage requires a clear mind, an open body and an understanding of spirit, of prana, of energy. In order to work effectively, the yogic massage practitioner has to be in a state of flow on a physical level and, for me, this method of using the body is assisted by my yoga practice and energy awareness. When the body is open, the practitioner can truly act as a channel through which the energy can flow and bring about a balanced 'yogic' state in the recipient.

Who Can it Help?

Yogic massage can assist the following conditions: backache, any muscular tension, sciatica, headaches, tiredness, restlessness, stress, anxiety, panic attacks, raised blood pressure. I have found it helpful with those who have deeply held trauma resulting from injuries or operations.

A Case History

One client, 'A', was involved in a car accident a few months before coming to see me and had suffered from whiplash. She complained of pain and tension in her lower back and found it difficult to sit still for long periods, which made her work in an office quite stressful. On each session I took time tuning in to her energy and providing grounding for her. I sensed not only that her pelvic area needed attention but also her neck and shoulders. Time was spent giving healing and grounding up the legs; then I employed side and diagonal stretches from shoulder to hip followed by neck, face, shoulder arm massage/releases and general holding for further grounding purposes. 'A' found the sessions beneficial and said that she felt relaxed and much freer, particularly in the upper back and shoulders, and that the opening stretches really eased her out and released tension. Visually, she was noticeably softer and more open, particularly in the hips and shoulders and energetically she was more balanced, grounded, calm and less pressured.

Why Does it Work?

Yogic massage has a lot to offer all types of people with different levels of energy awareness. Each type of person can receive whatever combination of pressure and level of healing that they need. I have found on mentioning this therapy to people I know, that one of the instant attractions is that they may remain clothed. Those who have received treatments from me often say that the diagonal stretches in particular have opened and released them like nothing else they have previously experienced. This, with the combination of the healing energy and the reassurance of simply being held, or the stretches being sustained, provides a very nurturing environment in which recipients can let go. I feel that the treatment is effective because it combines earth and universal energy; earth energy via touch and a connectedness on an individual level and universal energy through the practitioner tuning in, listening, sensing, receiving and directing energy through to the recipient. This connects the recipient with cosmic energy which can be very comforting in that it allows a connectedness on a vaster scale and at a deeper but less individual level. Even if the recipient may not easily be able to recognize or verbalize this, it is nonetheless felt on an inner level and has a beneficial effect on their whole being.

Further Information

For more information on yogic massage treatment or courses contact Tel: 07074 732222;
info@nrgawareness.co.uk
www.nrgawareness.co.uk

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About Narayani Guibarra

Narayani met her yoga teacher, Julie Friedeberger, and discovered yoga in 1991. Narayani also studied viniyoga for two years with Geoff Farrer. Narayani continues to attend British Wheel of Yoga Classes initially with Val Field and now with Monica Lee. Narayani met and studied with Swami Dharmananda Saraswati, the head of the Dharma Yoga Centre. She completed healing courses levels 1-4 with the National Federation of Spiritual Healers and has subsequently attended at the Bromley Healing Centre since 2001 where she continues to offer healing on a voluntary basis. Narayani has recently undertaken six months of part-time study on a shiatsu practitioner course. Narayani is also a Buddhist, chiefly influenced by Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hhan of the Community of Interbeing, and practises mindfulness daily. Narayani teaches one day yoga workshops and weekend retreats and often works with other yoga teachers of the Dharma Yoga Centre. Her next retreat with Rena Nicholaou is May 28-31 2004 at Hourne Farm, West Sussex. Narayani provides yogic massage via home visits and is soon to start regular sessions at the Stark Gallery, Lee, London SE12, where she also teaches yoga. Narayani can be contacted at Tel: 020-8699 0279; peace@innerstillness.co.uk www.innerstillness.co.uk

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