Twice in my life have I wandered into a yoga class where I felt completely fascinated, connected, and at home. The first was with Jhon Tamayo at Atmananda, where I ended up doing my teacher training. The second was this past weekend with Jill Miller at Omega.
I’d heard about Jill from Brooke Siler, who runs Re:Ab Pilates here in New York. She said if I liked anatomy and alignment, I would like Jill. Then my friend T’ai Jamar, who runs T’ai Yoga Therapy, happened to link to Jill on Facebook. And she was leading a retreat upstate the following weekend. Perfect timing!
Today I was thoroughly bruised by a doctor with a butter knife. I have never been happier.
It’s called the Graston Technique, and it might be the most efficient massage I’ve ever had. Six stainless steel tools, just begging for Sweeney Todd marketing partnerships, are rubbed and dragged across your oiled skin in order to break up myofascial restrictions. Aka knots, tightness, and scar tissue. If you bruise easily, you will be left with an enormous hickey across your offended part. My shoulder has never been sexier.
The treatment is good for tendonitis, plantar fascitis, carpal tunnel, etc. Supposedly it’s now used by all the major sports teams. Watch this video to get the gist.
The beauty of the technique is the leverage that the tool provides — you’re not limited by the strength of the therapist’s thumbs. The end is used to dig a ditch under your shoulder blade; the long edge rakes out your neck. It was actually less painful than I anticipated. One by one, he called out the muscles and neighbors of my rotator cuff, and attacked them. In twenty minutes, he found and dug into every little knot my last four massages had touched on.
Dr. Minardo at Infinity Sports Medicine did the job; their whole office was strongly recommended by a marathoning friend. Dr. Babiy checked out a little knee puffiness (no drama, just imbalance!), and Stephen Kim taught me some physical therapy. They had a range of suggestions for my chronicshouldertendonitis, including trigger point INJECTIONS (of saline)… but who could turn down “a massage with a special metal device?” (One covered by my insurance, too?)
I felt almost guilty going to a Western office, like there was some Eastern technique I just hadn’t found… but you gotta love German engineering, too. And, I’m telling myself the 8am appointments count as a morning practice. I go back twice next week, but the real test will be for me to keep up w/the homework (ice and stuff for the knee). If I can clear up this shoulder I will be SO happy, cause there’s a time limit on your body’s ability to regain full elasticity; you can’t leave it knotted for too long. It’s time to say goodbye…
I would be hard pressed to think of a gift better than massage. The more yoga I do, the more body-aware I get, and the more I actually hear the muscles and joints crying for a little attention. Besides Down Dog.
So, when my friend Greg needed guinea pigs on whom to practice his Thai Yoga Massage training, I jumped at the chance. Computer Pose is not doing my musculature any favors.
I’ve been pining for a trigger point massage, as I have some left side tightness that is spreading like swine flu, and the sadistic forms of massage seem to have the longest-lasting effects. But I’d never had a Thai Yoga Massage — only a few poses doled out at the end of AcroYoga classes here and there. I knew it was nicknamed “lazy man’s yoga” because you’re pushed and pulled into different positions as you lay on the floor. I didn’t know how awesome it was.
Laying on my back, I was kneaded from toes to hips, plied into a butterfly, and pulled into a twist. These culinary techniques continued on my side, up my back, and out my arms. I was hung sideways by a leg and an arm. I was rolled up into a ball and squished. Each limb, each digit, was folded and pressed. Chin, cheeks and eyebrows were pinched tight, and my whole skull was scrubbed clean.
It was definitely the most whole-body massage I’ve ever had — every major muscle group was covered from multiple angles. I could feel the stress buzzing as it was prodded and pulled, and afterward I felt as if I’d been drained of some toxic fluid. Clear and happy.
Greg has a great sense of touch, and perfect pressure; he’s a natural. And: he makes house calls. If you’re sore or stressed, email someoneonesun at gmail dot com.