Some practitioners argue that yoga is comparable to self-massage. While there may be some truth in that, the fact remains that nothing compares to relaxing, letting go, and receiving conscious, loving, intentional touch from a skilled massage therapist.
A recent documentary on the Andaman tribe, one of the longest-living tribes on an isolated island in the Bay of Bengal, highlighted the fact that they spent copious amounts of time snuggling, hugging, and caressing one another. No one knows for sure if the abundance of physical touch contributes to the reasons this particular tribe has been around for so long, but it does make you wonder.
Does loving physical touch increase longevity?
We know that physical touch is vital when it comes to helping newborn babies heal in the neonatal intensive care unit. As we grow, however, we put less importance on human touch. Yet numerous studies have shown the benefits of massage, including increased circulation and mood enhancement, and decreased risk of heart disease and type II diabetes.
Some would argue that yoga provides similar health benefits, however, renowned healer Diana Panara says physical touch from another human is essential. She says, “We are hurt in relationship with another, therefore we need to heal in relationship with another (and not necessarily with the same person who hurt us).”
Sometimes you need a non-judgmental, neutral witness whose intention is to hold a pure space of love for your healing. Everyone needs help to unveil the deep-seated causes of pain and suffering within. With the well-trained and experienced “eye” of a healer, you may be able to deal with things from the past that have been too scary to revisit and release without support or guidance. Memories, traumas, beliefs—all of your past experiences are held deep within our body’s tissues and viscera and may require the right safe environment, healing touch, and intention to be addressed properly and released.
In addition to emotional build-up, many modern day yogis have the tendency to push themselves physically in their practice. As yogis build strength they need massage to help reduce muscle fatigue, improve performance, and create more body awareness.
Similar to Savasana, regular massage teaches you to let go—not just for five minutes or so, but for an extended period of time. This process can be extremely transformative helping to quiet the ego and surrender into just being and receiving. You essentially do nothing yet gain so much. Do nothing, receive love, and experience peace—what a concept.
Whether you’re an aspiring yogi or an Asana master, regular massage is proven to be one of the most beneficial practices for your health and well-being … off the mat of course.