Massage is the one of the most satisfying ways to practice self care. It is relaxing and rejuvenating. However, often the thoughts about the benefits of massage stop there. So you may be wondering how simply lying on a massage table could possibly benefit your yoga practice…

1. Like Yoga, myofascial massage techniques work directly with the body’s fascia.

The truth is we aren’t only stretching muscles during asana practice. We are also stretching fascia!

While practicing handstands in my yoga practice, I developed this strange neck pain and tense feeling. I stretched in every way I knew how. I tried long holds, short holds- everything. After receiving a massage specifically for my neck, I instantly felt the release I had been seeking. Not only did this help me continue with my handstand practice, but it actually improved my practice and ability to comfortably stabilize my shoulders without feeling pain in my neck.

This was when I realized that one of the most valuable things I could do for myself and my yoga practice was to receive massage.

Imagine a human skeleton.

Now, imagine the muscles inserted in the skeleton.

Next the ligaments and tendons and, finally, the organs.

Notice how they don’t fit together like puzzle pieces? That’s because of fascia!
Fascia fills the space and creates the actual structure of our bodies. It coats our muscles, and even becomes so dense in certain areas that it forms tendons!

Basically, if we are stretching our muscles, we are stretching the fascia surrounding those muscles as well. ‘Myofascial’ or ‘Connective Tissue’ massage, is meant to directly affect the fascia. Just like in yoga, to affect the fascia is to affect the muscle, and vice versa.

2. Intention setting:

It’s said all the time in yoga classes, “Set the intention for your practice, day, week, breath, etc.” Have you ever considered setting an intention for your massage?

Here are some examples of intention setting on the massage table:

- Completely relax and let go.

- Stay conscious and aware of what is happening in your body.

- Maintain awareness of the breath for the entirety of the session.

Kassidy Crawford yoga - handstand

3. Breathing and Body Awareness

Your breath practice doesn’t have to stop when you leave your mat, and what better place to take the practice than onto the massage table?

I was a brand new, extremely nervous Yoga Teacher, teaching something like my fourth Chair Yoga class at my local YMCA (using a sequence I found on an extremely unreliable website from a cursory google search: “How to teach yoga to seniors without hurting them”) when I truly realized how life-changing a breath practice can be. One of my regular students (let’s just call her Sue) spent the entire class seated and still with her eyes closed, just… breathing. At the end of class, I asked Sue how she was doing and she gave me an answer I definitely wasn’t expecting.  

Sue told me that after only four yoga classes, her blood pressure was almost completely back to normal (which hadn’t been the case in over 15 years). I still did not understand why this news from her doctor possessed her to be completely still in class that day. So she explained…

Sue is an extremely active senior. She walks every morning, goes to Zumba twice per week, and fulfills her need to exercise on the other days with water aerobics. She takes her grandkids to almost all of their activities while mom works, and plays with them too! She has always been active… but active didn’t always equal healthy. She explained to me that moving through the yoga postures is no different than moving through Zumba class or water aerobics. The difference is the meditative qualities of a breath practice. Sue didn’t feel the need to move through the postures that day. Just breathing and being aware of her body in stillness was sufficiently fulfilling her practice.

Kassidy in Scorpion Pose

So, how can you take your yoga practice to the massage table?

 

1.  Talk to your massage therapist about your yoga practice, your limitations, and your goals. Myofascial massage may be an awesome push in the right direction!

2.  Set an intention before you get on the massage table. Set another intention for the rest of your day right after you receive your massage.

3.  Try out different breath practices on the table (counting breaths, pausing between breaths, lengthening exhales, in and out through the nose, in through the nose out through the mouth).

 

Just as savasana is a profound part of yoga, the act of receiving a massage can also have profound effects on your practice.  If you’re looking for a boost in your practice, maybe massage will be the tool that helps you get to the next level.  Massage offers the perfect complement to all the “doing” of yoga by giving us an opportunity to just be.  This balance is really at the heart of it all, isn’t it?

 

Happy practicing!

Kassidy Crawford LMT - Tucson Massage Company

Kassidy Crawford is currently available for massage treatments Friday through Sunday at Tucson Massage Company.

Kassidy Crawford Tucson Massage Therapist

About the Author

Kassidy Crawford is an exceptional massage therapist and yoga teacher living in Tucson, AZ.  She is passionate about her work and easily connects with her clients physically, energetically and emotionally while guiding them through a profoundly therapeutic experience.  Kassidy loves playing with her dogs and brewing her own kombucha.  If you'd like to book a massage with Kassidy, visit our main page to choose your treatment type and select her as your therapist when booking online.  You may also call us at (520) 333-0166 to book your massage and request her as your therapist.