Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has been around for centuries and its practices are believed to be good for the overall health. Let’s take a look at what exactly it does for the body, scientifically speaking:

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Did you know that traditional Thai massage relies heavily on stretching, compression and yoga-like body manipulations? You need not do the yoga poses yourself, but it is your body, mind and soul that will benefit from them. If you are eager to gain from yoga, why not come to our Centre? With the help of a qualified and experienced therapist, you will experience these benefits almost immediately.

Massage Therapy Facts & Fallacy

Like sleeping in, enjoying a beach day or eating some chocolate, many people look at massage as an indulgent way to treat themselves and de-stress. However, in addition to making you feel good, massage therapy – manipulation of the skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments through touch – is also associated with numerous health benefits. Nevertheless, as with other forms of alternative medicine, not all of the health claims made by massage therapy are supported with scientific evidence.

FACT: Massage eases lower back pain – even better than medication.

As many as one-in-four Americans suffer from lower back pain, and it is estimated that 80 percent of Americans experience debilitating lower back pain at least once in their lives. However, long-term use of conventional medical treatments for lower back pain, such as opioid painkillers, can lead to organ damage and even addiction. Massage may represent a safer and more effective lower back pain treatment. A study published in the July 2011 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine found that among 401 middle-aged female participants with chronic lower back pain, those who received a 10-week series of either relaxation massage or structural massage—a more intensive type of massage—experienced less pain and improved functioning compared to those who received only usual care such as painkillers, muscle relaxants and physical therapy.

FALLACY: Massage burns fat.

Although some beauty spas, salons and massage practitioners offer weight loss massage services, massage has not been proven to burn fat or reduce cellulite. Massaging devices sold on TV or over the Internet are similarly ineffective at burning fat. The only safe and proven ways to burn fat are diet and exercise. That said, while massage itself won’t burn fat, a relaxing massage is a healthier alternative to more fattening de-stressors like sweets or alcohol. If getting a massage helps keep you from reaching for that chocolate cake, then by all means, make an appointment!

FACT: Massage reduces post-exercise muscle soreness.

While massage has been used to treat muscle soreness after strain or exercise for thousands of years, the mechanisms behind its effectiveness have not been well understood until now. Research published in Science Translational Medicine in February 2012 examined the effects of a 10-minute massage on the thigh muscles of young, healthy male volunteers who had just completed vigorous exercise to exhaustion. By studying muscle biopsies, scientists found that massage reduced the production of cytokines, pro-inflammatory compounds associated with post-exercise muscle pain. Additionally, massage stimulated mitochondria, energy producers inside of cells responsible for cell function and repair. The study’s authors also noted that massage is a safer way to reduce muscle pain than taking anti-inflammatory medication.

FALLACY: Massage builds muscle tissue.

Unfortunately, this is another myth. You cannot attain hypertrophy, or muscle growth, through massage. It is also untrue that certain forms of massage, such as tapotement can be used to strengthen muscles, as muscle strengthening requires muscle growth. Although massage can help relax tight muscles, only resistance exercise can build muscle. But as with weight loss, getting a massage might indirectly influence muscle growth – you might be encouraged to engage in some muscle-building strength exercises if a massage eases your muscle pain, lower back pain, depression, etc.

To minimize any risks associated with massage, make sure your session is conducted by a certified massage therapist, and get your doctor’s approval prior to getting a massage if you have unexplained pain, blood clots, bone fractures, severe osteoporosis, cancer, burns, open wounds or rheumatoid arthritis, or are pregnant.

History & Benefits of Yoga

Imagine an activity that increases your flexibility, strengthens your muscles, centers your thoughts, and relaxes and calms you. Yoga does all that and more!

The word yoga is Sanskrit for Yoke, or union. In the practice of yoga, we seek to create union between the mind and body. Yoga is the perfect example of holistic health because of this combination of mind and body. It is a systematic practice of physical exercise, breath control, relaxation, diet control, and positive thinking and meditation aimed at developing harmony in the body, mind, and environment. The practice entails low-impact physical activity, postures called asanas, breathing techniques (pranayama), relaxation, and meditation.

Yoga professes a complete system of physical, mental, social, and spiritual development. For generations, this philosophy was passed on from the master teacher to the student. The first written records of the practice of yoga appeared around 200 BC in Yogasutra of Patanjali. The system consisted of the eightfold path or Asthangayoga.

In the West, several schools of yoga are popular and use some or all limbs of Asthangayoga described by Patanjali. The eight limbs are as follows:

  • Yama: rules for successful living in society
  • Niyama: techniques for managing and purifying self
  • Asaana: posture techniques for physical and mental balance (what most people think of as yoga)
  • Pranayama: breathing techniques for physical and mental balance
  • Pratihara: techniques for detaching the mind from the senses for mental balance and calm
  • Dharana: concentration techniques for mental balance and calm
  • Dhyana: meditation techniques for mental balance and calm
  • Samadhi: ultimate advanced meditation techniques and psychic procedures attained after regular practice for universal consciousness

The process involves the arousal of the Kundalini Shakti, or serpent power, believed to be located at the base of the human spine. As one practices the various techniques, this power/latent energy rises through a series of centers or Chakras corresponding to various endocrine glands. When this power reaches the highest center, which is associated with the hypothalamus gland regulating the hormonal secretion of the endocrine system, it results in the control over the hypothalamus. In this way, secretion of hormones from various endocrine glands can be regulated. This mechanism may explain the importance of yoga as a stress management technique.

The benefits of various yoga techniques have been professed to improve body flexibility, performance, stress reduction, attainment of inner peace, and self-realization. Yoga has been advocated as complementary treatment to aid healing of several ailments such as coronary heart disease, depression, anxiety disorders, asthma, and extensive rehabilitation for disorders including musculoskeletal problems and traumatic brain injury. It has also been suggested as a behavioral therapy for smoking cessation and substance abuse including alcohol abuse.

You don’t have to be flexible to practice yoga. In fact, yoga will help you become flexible. When learning yoga, don’t force any movements or poses. Mastery will come with practice. A yoga class should make you feel invigorated, calm, and not in physical discomfort.

Alternatively, you can opt for a traditional Thai massage in our Centre. A traditional Thai massage is an ancient form of massage unique to Thailand using deep tissue, pressure point and stretching techniques (similar to that of yoga) to reduce stress and relieve muscle soreness.

Basic Techniques of a Thai Massage

Thai massage is usually given only by licensed massage therapists who have had specific training in Thai massage. This type of massage relies heavily on stretching, compression and yoga-like body manipulations. These movements are meant to elongate the muscles and increase blood flow throughout the body. These are a few Thai massage techniques that we practice at Thai Odyssey.

Working the Lateral Torso and Shoulder

The therapist stabilizes the client’s arm over their leg while compressing the lateral border of the shoulder blade. This technique can relieve shoulder pain originating in the latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior and teres major muscles.

 

Knee Press the Glutes in Folded Leg Position

The folded leg position shortens the gluteal muscles. This pose compresses the piriformis and other glutes while also stretching the adductors. It is a very effective pose for piriformis syndrome, hip pain, sciatica and other complaints stemming from trigger points in the glutes and rotators of the hip.

 Backbend with Feet on the Back Lines

In this pose, the therapist compresses the spinal erectors while leaning back to bring the client into an assisted backbend. The spinal erectors often limit extension by painfully contracting when they are asked to shorten. Pressure from the therapist’s feet provides feedback to the shortening muscles and disables the normal pain reflex.

 Foot Press the Posterior Leg – Locked Position

This is a very efficient and strong pose for the therapist, making it possible to lean back and use body weight to bring the client’s leg into the foot pressure. A very effective technique for trigger points in the medial hamstrings and vastus medialis.

 

Elbow Press the Anterior Lower Leg while Shortening

As the therapist leans back, the anterior muscles of the leg are shortened. This is a very effective and powerful way to treat tibialis anterior and the long extensors of the foot. Shortening the muscles makes them more responsive to pressure and provides retraining so the muscles learn to shorten gracefully.

All therapists in Thai Odyssey are well-trained and have more than 5 years of experience in providing traditional massages. Thai massage should never be painful. We encourage open channels of communication during the massage so that you receive the best experience at all times. Give traditional Thai massage a try – your body will feel its soothing benefits.

Practicing Yoga Before Sleeping

We’ve all been there — rolling around in bed at night, replaying the day’s craziness and mentally going through tomorrow’s to-dos. Before you know it, it’s 2 a.m. and you’re still counting sheep. Sound familiar?

A person who’s deprived of sleep should avoid large meals before bed, limit intake of caffeine, create a soothing atmosphere and take a warm bath. But if you say, ‘been there, done that,’ take advice from the yogis who suggest courting sleep by working with your subtle energy. In other words, forget the sleeping pills or the babbling brook; a few simple yoga moves might be all you need to summon the Sandman and enjoy a night of quality sleep.

Yoga can help tackle sleep related problems through tension releasing exercises and poses that loosen up the tight muscles and put you into a deep state of relaxation. A relaxed session of yoga helps to calm the body, mind and spirit. This helps to quiet the constant thought patterns that can rob you of sleep. Combine yoga with a short meditation practice to enhance this benefit.

Inversions, twists and relaxation poses are combined to release tension, relax the body, improve circulation and sleep easily. Here’s a video on yoga poses you can do before going to sleep.

http://youtu.be/ixIWDMokjoE

Practicing Yoga in the Morning

Practicing yoga in the morning reduces your stress, which improves your focus for other tasks such as work or school. A research reported that one hour of morning yoga practice, including meditation, reduced stress and improved confidence, leading to better performance throughout the day. There are so many awesome reasons to practice yoga first thing in the morning.

Yogic breathing stimulates your body and mind. All that fresh oxygen wakes up the brain like a jolt of caffeine. Yet, unlike coffee, the energy boost from deep-breathing lasts all day. Morning yoga will help you to feel more energized, helping you to be more productive during the day. After your hour-long practice, you’ll feel increased clarity of mind, ready to face your day brighter and more alive. This means that you will be able to accomplish more in less time during your work day.

Practicing yoga early in the morning will also set the tone for your whole day. It will calm and center you before you have to step out into the chaos of life. You will be ready for any situation that comes your way. That traffic jam? – No worries, you did yoga. Grumpy boss? – Just remember to inhale and exhale. Each early-morning session will remind you to set an intention to practice kindness, compassion and love. Others can feel that, and the world will start to reflect that peace back at you.

Aside from that, the stretching in yoga makes your body tighter, lighter and brighter. It raises serotonin levels, endorphins and other feel-good chemicals and that will all show up in the glow of your skin. Studies show people who practice yoga can actually slow down the aging of the heart, liver and kidneys. All of your insides will reflect on the outside. You eyes will be brighter. Your skin will have a glow. Your body will feel taller and longer. Your immune system will be stronger.

In addition, yoga also helps speed up your metabolic rate, which means that you can eat more and burn calories faster. When you practice yoga early in the day, you improve your digestion and food will burn up faster, and more nutrients will move through your body. When you have enough nutrients moving through efficiently, then your body metabolizes fats and carbohydrates faster and your insides will be running at tip-top speed and efficiency, so you can have that second bowl of granola and don’t sweat it!

Here’s a video of morning yoga poses to get your engine started early in the day.

http://youtu.be/dBw37_jmy_M

Importance of Sleep to the Body and Soul

Do you often wonder why you feel tired sometimes or maybe even all the time? Since the invention of the light bulb people sleep much less, approximately 500 hours a year, or 1.25 hours a day. While the exact mechanism of sleep and how it impacts our brain function, it is clear that science knows that sleep is one of the body’s most important processes.

Overnight, the body’s cells are renewed, the body’s digestive system is at rest and the brain becomes only partially active which is why we feel so refreshed after a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation is the cause of many physical and mental problems including poor concentration, digestive problems, depression and accelerated aging. Over time sleep deprivation can also result in blurry vision and impaired judgement, while severe sleep deprivation can result in hallucinations, mania and nausea. Usually getting a good night’s sleep alleviates these symptoms but chronic sleep deprivation (such as night shift workers such as doctors and nurses, or mothers with newborn or sick children), may require longer periods of sleeping.

The way in which you treat your body can have a profound impact on your body, mind and soul balance. The body has its own natural rhythms that are designed to uphold its state of balance. This includes the natural cycle of sleep.  If our bodies are not functioning properly, it is a sign that there is disharmony in our body, mind and soul.

Here are some helpful tips you should remember the next time you sleep.

  • As a general rule, you should aim for 7 hours sleep a night. If you know you require less, make sure you get your minimum sleeping hours so that you are fully functioning during waking hours.
  • Have a routine for sleeping hours and try to stick to it.
  • Make your bed and your bedroom enticing to go to sleep in. Make sure it is quiet, dark and warm.
  • Do some form of relaxation before going to sleep. Yoga, stretching, meditation or reading can help orient the body and mind for sleep.
  • Don’t do any computer work directly before going to sleep. The brightness of computer monitors stimulates the brain.
  • Avoid large meals just before bed. Try to keep your dinner portions to a minimum and eat at least 2 hours before going to sleep.

So get the right amount of sleep to bring harmony with your body and soul!

Why Choose a Thai Massage

Known as nuat phaen boran in Thailand, Thai massage has largely invaded the world with its unique style of letting people relax. It is also called Thai yoga massage because the therapist uses his or her hands, knees, legs, and feet to move you into a series of yoga-like stretches. Many people say Thai massage is like doing yoga without any work. Muscle compression, joint mobilization, and acupressure are also used during treatment. People describe Thai massage as both relaxing and energizing.

The combination of energetic and physical aspects is what makes Thai Massage unique and so effective. Traditional Thai massage is really a deep, full-body treatment, starting at the feet and progressing up to the head. Using a sequence of gentle, flowing exercise movements, the recipient’s body is moved, loosened and stretched of the joints and the muscles.

Believed to be over 2000 years old, traditional Thai massage is an authentic healing art and unique form of body therapy developed by people who used massage not only as a therapeutic method of healing to treat illnesses, but to maintain health and well-being. Thai massage helps detoxify the body, boosts the immune system and increases blood circulation, which could result to lower blood pressure. It is also good for muscle relaxation to increase the flexibility of your muscles as well as your mobility. It can improve your breathing and your posture and balance. Through Thai massage, body alignments can be corrected and energy blockages can be dissolved. It can also help tone the body, strengthen joints and fight diseases, including chronic joint problems. The very important physical benefit of Thai massage is that it can prevent illnesses, alleviate degenerative diseases and slow down the process of aging.

Aside from the physical benefits, Thai massage has also a mental benefit. It can improve your outlook towards life by building an emotional balance. It can also help you gain mental clarity. And among other benefits, Thai massage reduces and relieves stress and anxiety. Once in awhile, pamper yourself with a Thai massage for you to relieve all the stress in your body!

18 Ways To De-stress After Work

Are you stressed out? Do you wake up feeling stressed because you feel that you didn’t sleep enough and have to get up to face the day? Braving the stressful traffic full of noise pollution and time wasted on the road trying to get to work on time after sending your kids off to school. Seeing the pile of work piling up even higher each time on your desk and you are hungry because you either forgot to eat your breakfast (because you woke up late after pressing the snooze button a million times) or you are feeling uninspired to complete the job. You brave the traffic once again to get home and after a stressful day a work, you have even more stress dealing with everything that still needs to get done before the day ends (dinner plans for the family, household chores that need to be completed, fitting in whatever social life you could into your already hectic schedule, more work that you brought home from the office because your deadline is tomorrow etc)

Sounds familiar? More often that not, our daily challenges lead to a certain degree of stress and tension. Hey, RELAX! We don’t have to be perfect or even have to do everything by ourselves either. There are ways to make your life easier. The less stressed you are, the happier you will be. You need to find healthy ways to reduce stress and relax at the end of the day. Some people find moments of solitude very calming, while others seem to unwind better in the company of loved ones. With the right balance of physical activity and mental down time, combined with a healthy diet and a good night’s sleep, you will renew and rejuvenate yourself for the next day which delivers great benefits to your body, mind and soul in the long run.

Here 18 ways to help you de-stress after work :
1. Leave work on time. Do not take your work home with you either.

2. Change out of your work clothes as soon as you get home. This simple step        instantly helps you feel more relaxed because it helps you make a clear transition from work to your more relaxed home persona.

3. Listen to relaxing music. Whether in your car, at work, at home and
anywhere else that you can. It helps ease the transition between work
and home. Singing along to your favorite songs really helps uplift your
moods too!

4. Setting healthy boundaries. Turn off your mobile phone and computer off
after a certain time each night if you can. The explosion of social
media and the rise of smartphones has to led to the invasion of our
private relaxation time and blurred the boundaries between work and
home. Constantly checking on your mobile devices contributes more to
your stress levels. By never taking breaks, constantly staring at a
screen and trying to take in information, the memory process becomes
disrupted, which takes the form of stress, impaired concentration and
even negative emotions such as anger as levels of stress hormones kick
in. Switch it off. It is good for your health and emotional wellbeing.

5. Exercising is a great way to destress and also stay fit & healthy. Be
it joining a gym or exercising at home with a video, the exercise
program can be as simple or as challenging that you make it out to be.
Whatever you decide, know that any form of physical activity that
exercises your whole body is a great way to destress after work and
also connect with friends and other people. Or you could go for a walk,
a bike ride or play ball with the kids. This goes a long way to help
you let go of the day’s stress.

6. Yoga is different from exercise. Yoga involves stretches that can help
you destress your body and relieve any tension that you may have. This
is especially great for people who are not into high impact exercise
but still achieve a lean, toned body.

7. Take a short nap if you are exhausted, but ONLY a short one. Spend a
little time with a cup of tea (drinking something warm like tea or milk
can help com for your body because it acts like an internal massage),
yoga or reading a good book instead. Too much down time might leave you
feeling sluggish and interfere with your normal sleep patterns, which
doesn’t help you reduce stress.

8. Participate in a favorite hobby or activity that you enjoy. Cooking a
favorite meal, doing needlework, playing futsal or going for a movie
could do the trick for you.

9. Include some downtime in your weekly schedule to do whatever sounds fun
at the time or perhaps do nothing at all.

10. Meditate or daydream about your next vacation or that cute person at
work.Take a minute or two for you. When you reflect on your day, focus
on at least one good thing that happened.

11. Take a hot bath before going to bed. Add different scented oils in
your bath to help further destress your mind and body. Popular scented
oils are ylang-ylang, lavender and lemongrass.

12. Hug your partner, your kids, your pets, your neighbors and anyone else
you can find!

13. Practice deep breathing exercises as it has a lot of health benefits
such as stress reduction. For example, before you get out of your car,
sit quietly, close your eyes and take three long full breaths.

14. Eat a quick energy-boosting and satisfying snack like bananas or
almonds.

15. Massage your ears. This is a great and fast way to destress yourself.
It releases endorphins and makes you feel better. In only a few minute
you can feel the effect instantly.

16. Use stress relief products such as squeezing a stress ball. Stress
ball release tensions from your muscles and the squeezing activity
takes your mind off from negative thoughts. You can also use
relaxation mat to destress yourself after a hard day at work.

17. Make dinner the healthiest meal of the day to help refresh and
de-stress your body after work and avoid heavy foods such as nasi
lemak or pizza. These types of foods can weigh you down and not
make you feel your best. Eat something light instead like a fruit
smoothie, tuna salad sandwich or salmon salad.

18. Last but not least, get a massage. A massage at least once a week is a
great way to de-stress after work and if you schedule one at the end
of the work week, that way you will feel relaxed for the weekend. And
Thai Odyssey may just have the perfect kind of massage just for you!

Health Benefits of Thai Massage

Ever been for a Thai massage? If you have, you will know that it is heavenly and oh-so-divine! But if you have never been pampered under a cool, shady banyan tree in a beautiful Buddhist temple or on a beach in Thailand, the good news is NOW you can get your Thai massage fix right here in Malaysia!

Contrary to the popular Swedish massage of the West (which focuses on the physical aspect of the body with the kneading of muscles),Thai Massage addresses and combines techniques usually found isolated in the Western physiotherapies such as Trigger Point Treatments, Myofascial Techniques, Neuro Muscular therapy, and Manual Therapy among others. The combination of energetic and physical aspects is what makes Thai Massage unique and so effective. Traditional Thai massage is a deep, full-body treatment. It starts at the feet and progresses up to the head using a sequence of gentle, flowing exercise movements. The recipient’s body is moved and loosened; the joints and the muscles stretched with some techniques linked to Yoga. This unique type of massage influences the energetic side as well, restoring the flow of energy throughout the body with applied acupressure on the ‘sen’ energy lines of the body, aimed at harmonizing and energizing.

It is this combination of yoga stretching, the calmness of meditation with acupressure, exercise movements and reflexology that makes it a healing art.

Thai massage is worked on a floor with the client dressed in comfortable loose clothing without the use of oil. Using mainly point pressure and muscle stretching, the Thai method not only use hands to free tension stored in the recipient’s body, but the feet, knees and elbows are used as well. The mat allows therapists to use their body weight to massage you, which elevates the uniqueness of the experience.

 

What are the benefits of having a Thai massage? 

If you’ve been stressed at work or have a tight neck from hunching over your laptop, a Thai massage will relieve the pain of stressed and overworked muscles. It also releases build up of lactic acid and toxins.

A Thai massage will increase your range of motion (through combination of assisted stretching and muscle manipulation) and so also prevents injury.

If you’re a sloucher it will improve your posture and body alignment!

Although you may feel sleepy straight after, it actually increases your energy levels and balances the body’s energy pathways. According to traditional Thai medicine the body has 72 000 energy lines of which 10 are considered principal. These energy lines are conduits for the ‘flow of life’ (or ‘vital energy’). Physical benefits aside, a Thai massage aims to unblock these energy paths which promotes both physical and mental wellness.

Having a Thai massage will increase blood circulation and stimulate nerve endings, often resulting in people saying they bodies feel light after a massage.

And the best benefit of all? It’s body toning! ^_^