Relaxation, stress relief, reduced pain and discomfort — these are some of the benefits your client hopes to derive from massage during her pregnancy. So, as a Thai yoga practitioner, you may think you’ll have to put sessions with this client on hold until after the baby arrives. Not necessarily so.
Legend has it that Thai yoga massage was developed more than 2,500 years ago by Buddha’s physician, Jivaka Kumar Bhacca. Admittedly, the modality is said to be more rigorous and energizing than traditional massage. However, with some modifications, you can offer Thai yoga massage to your pregnant client, an experience that may pleasantly surprise her.
Like many other modalities, Thai yoga massage has been shown to reduce back and joint pain, edema, muscle tension, stress, anxiety and headaches, while increasing circulation, oxygenation of the soft tissues and muscles, and enhancing sleep.
The stretches used in Thai yoga massage may offer the biggest benefit, helping to alleviate back, shoulder and hip pain as your client’s pregnancy progresses. Gentle acupressure on certain points on the face, i.e., the bridge of the nose, temples, sinus area and ears, may help to reduce tension.
A combination of muscle compression, joint mobilization and acupressure, Thai yoga massage also incorporates spirituality and is based on a system of healing, movement education and Ayurvedic sciences.
Before you begin the session, you may need to explain the technique to your client. Unlike traditional massage, Thai yoga massage is done while the client is fully dressed and lying on a padded mat on the floor. Your client may require more props and pillows to support her as her pregnancy progresses. And make sure she understands that, in addition to using your hands, you will also execute a series of yoga-like stretches using your hands, knees, legs and feet.
Early in your client’s pregnancy, you’ll be able to do many of the usual Thai techniques; as she inches closer to her due date, you’ll have to avoid heavy-duty stretches and pressure techniques on the upper body, as well as upper body twists. But throughout the nine-month journey, you can use gentle kneading, rolling, rocking, squeezing and effleurage on your client’s feet, legs, arms, back, shoulders, neck, face and head.
You will also want to pay special attention to positioning. Placing the mom-to-be on her side, supported by pillows, during part of the session will enable you to safely and effectively work her feet and legs using your hands and elbows.
In certain cases, you should make sure your pregnant client gets approval from her doctor to engage in Thai yoga massage. Women with high-risk pregnancies, pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia, previous preterm labor, severe swelling, high blood pressure, sudden intense headaches or those who have delivered within the last 12 months should avoid this form of massage, unless her doctor gives the OK.
If you are certified to perform Thai yoga massage, your skills and knowledge could offer a fantastic stretching experience to help the mom-to-be through the changes her body will undergo and may also prepare her for labor.