A deep spiritual link exists between massage and yoga healing modalities. Both massage therapists and yoga instructors use the power of touch to mindfully manipulate the body in a way that supports internal physical and emotional healing. If you have recently sustained a physical injury or are recovery from an emotional trauma, yoga and massage therapy may play an important role in the healing process.
Western practices of yoga are rooted in a 3,000-year-old tradition. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanksrit word “yuj”, which means union or yoke, and reflects the decision of yogis to direct the body in mindful movement and meditation. As a form of mind-body fitness, yoga does more than simply build strength and flexibility; yoga actively engages its students in the healing process.
According to yogic philosophy, the third principle of yoga is self-empowerment for mindful healing: each student is his or her own healer. When individuals have a positive state of mind, they create a positive physiological environment for healing. By bringing together conscious breathing, meditation, diet and lifestyle changes, yoga helps its participants visualize a healthier path. This integration of an individual’s physical, mental and spiritual components also occur during touch-therapies, such as massage.
While yoga and massage therapy are not a “cure” for cancer or other chronic illnesses, studies show that these complementary therapies significantly enhance quality of life.1 In addition to promoting muscular strength and flexibility, yoga also relieves stress, anxiety, depression and chronic pain, while improving sleep patterns. Massage therapy is beneficial for reducing blood pressure and lowering cortisol levels, the hormone connected with stress and anxiety. At the same time, massage increases the level of endorphins, the body’s “feel good” chemical, creating soothing sensations of calm and peace. After both yoga and massage therapy, individuals feel relaxed and centered.
Both massage and yoga use touch therapy to enhance the mind-body connection. For example, the simple act of a massage therapist kneading sore or stiff muscles produces an important physiological response within the body. Not only does massage “feel good”, but it also releases tension, lowers blood pressure and improves circulation, increasing the flow of fresh, oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Regular yoga practitioners enjoy many of these same benefits.
Together, yoga and massage are a powerful healing combination, enhancing mindfulness, serenity and calmness. Individuals of all ages can benefit from these therapies.
1. Yoga Journal. “Make the Most of Your Massage.”