Sunday, 28 September 2014

Yoga, TYM and Gary Lopedota

They say that following receiving the "10 series" of Rolfing (Structural Integration) the body can continue to 'open' on its own for quite a while, before the need for further therapy. This certainly has been my experience, as I continue to be able to experience subtle shifts in energy and shifts within the physical body as I practice, deepening the experience of breath and postures. 

A good friend of mine Ray, a Thai Yoga Massage therapist based in Coventry and Warwickshire recently gave me some great info on TYM and releasing energy in the body following a conversation we had about it. (

“Happy reading may not answer all your questions fully but you might find it interesting, Re energy lines, and energy awareness, again speaking from personnel experience only, in a recent chat with you, you asked which came first yoga or Thai massage well I guess in an intelligent way Thai massage came first and yoga is recent although having dabbled with it for years but now its to stay and I am finding it very beneficial, but my experience with Acupuncture and our energy came 25 years ago when suffering from stress related illnesses, I was fortunate enough to meet a guy who in my opinion was a master Acupuncturist and also chiropractor, over a two year period he kind of rebuilt me and left me with a interest and knowledge of  the energy lines and pressure points that work for me, kind of a personal prescription so to speak, I have a good awareness, when certain points are buzzing, so I just palpate the point until the energy dissipates, but what I think you are describing is that since you had the “10 series” Rolfing treatment you have kind of been "switched on" to your own energy and its  subtle ways in which it guides you, I have had a couple of people say that they are now more aware how they stand or how they walk after of few TYM’s (postural adjustment maybe) and report subtle energy shifts in areas worked on.

It's my view that you have great physical body awareness through your practice and have now developed a energy awareness, I recently read that when sitting in padmasana its the right leg first with the left leg on top the liver and spleen are purified, so to high light that there are 600 recognised Acupuncture point on the human body it would be remarkable to think that they were not being worked whist doing practice, however Chinese medicine is complex and I feel very lucky to be married to a qualified Acupuncturist (mind you trying to get a treatment is like blood letting from a stone lol ) so it's my view that its better to look at your energy in simpler terms as in Thai sen lines or Indian Nadis although still quite complex but much easier to get your head around, here goes…

The Sen Lines / Myofascial Pathways
- The traditional model of Thai Yoga Massage works on the notion of energy flow, which until now has made it a deeply intuitive and feeling based art form built up over thousands of years. This had caused problems for some westerners used to working on the physical, on symptoms and with sound empirical evidence, but learning to feel and not think too much was good for them. It’s about that letting go thing again and learning how to feel and flow with natural forces; learning to tap into the deep unconscious and instinctive aspect of nature and ourselves. It was this intuitive ability that could feel and work with the subtle energy body and map it. The physical body is only a part of who we are, but its also the tangible basis upon which we can work and influence the deeper and more subtle aspects of our being.
Until very recently nothing was really known about Sen lines, but there has now been some important research, which shows that the 10 Sen lines manipulated in Thai Yoga Massage are in essence the same as Nadis and Meridians, in being subtle energy pathways and part of a huge inter-connected network running throughout the entire body. 

On surface appearance Sen lines seem to follow different pathways to meridians, because Sen lines follow muscular contours, the myo-fascial pathways between muscles and between muscles and bones. So the myofascial Sen lines are what we can get our hands on, whereas the meridians of TCM also follow the internal cyclic flow of energy between vital organs. Research though carried out at the University of Vermont and college of medicine used high frequency ultrasound scanning acoustic microscopy to study acupuncture channels and the effects of needling, and found that most meridians are located between muscles and between muscles and a tendon or bone also. So it could be that meridians, nadis and sen lines are part of the same subtle connective tissue network of fascia and that the meridians which follow the cyclic flow of energy between organs are in fact part of the deep fascia, subserous facia and membrane linings.
Although the 10 Sen lines are a complete system and very effective model to follow, there are some contradictions on the precise location of these lines between some schools. 

Most professionals though and myself seem to agree that Sen Lines are energy lines of connective tissue, known as the myo-fascial pathways between muscles throughout the entire body. This network of fascia is so vitally important because it provides stability and structure to the body, enables movement of muscles, metabolism to take place, protects the vital organs and nervous system, allows for communication between cells and boosts our immunity to fight infection to name a few functions.
One common point of view now is that Thai massage can be explained in the same way that Structural Integration therapy or Rolfing can, because each of them apply a deep and sustained pressure into the body’s fascial binding in order to release deeper tensions and blockages fixed into the fascia elsewhere in the body. It can do this because fascia forms an intricate web co-extensive throughout the body, central to its performance and well-being, and so releasing these trapped tensions in one area of the body can correct postural imbalances, chronic conditions and unexplained pain symptoms elsewhere in the body, because they are often caused by tensions locked into the binding tissue of the fascia. These blockages are often quite subtle and may be due to injury, or emotional trauma, so when therapist and client both focus into the same area being worked, then its far more than the physical body being manipulated, and even childhood issues and holding patterns can be unearthed from the depths of sub-conscious being and let go of.

Fascia is so important. The myo-fascia extends from the deep fascia in the body, which is central to the flexibility and function of vital organs, and it covers, supports and separates skeletal muscle. Myo-fascia helps attach muscles to other muscles, and runs between and separates them, thereby improving movement function and acting as a protective sheath. It also provides a protective route and sheath for blood vessels, nerves and lymph to flow through. The fascia also acts as a very important circulatory and communication system and recent evidence now suggests that within the collagen cells of myofascia is cerebrospinal fluid and thus creating a very complex communication system, stemming from the ventricles of the middle brain and reaching out to the heart of every living cell.
The effects then of manipulating fascia during thai massage are endless and perhaps timeless as we tap into a karmic web of the bodies history and capacity. It is obvious that the early Buddhist monks and teachers of Thai Yoga Massage understood this and therefore laid great emphasis on becoming and giving Metta in Thai Massage, which is Indian Sanskrit for loving Kindness. So meditation is practiced at all the main teaching schools in Thailand before the beginning of each class to bring one into the right frame of mind and focussed intention.

We influence the people we touch with our state of mind and so its important to achieve that feeling of benevolence and loving kindness within ourselves because this quality and healing vibration is transmitted to every cell in the body through the huge and living conscious inter-connected web we call the fascia
Despite common agreements, there still exist conflicting ideas around whether Sen Lines can actually be used as a diagnostic tool, as in TCM. But we might say ‘can the body or meridians really be used as a diagnostic tool anyway? Meridians can be used to diagnose a problem in the body and with a particular function, but this does not reveal an underlying cause. The body just reveals symptoms of underlying causes, and all treatments using their particular model try to work on the energetic basis of them. We can work on the symptom, but we can’t always get to the causes which are more often than not based in the mind, past experiences, present stressful conditions and specific attitudes that are preventing the free flow of vital energy in the mind body network. In my experience of giving Thai Yoga Massage, I think we can treat Sen lines revealing a blockage and at the same time help to unlock the flow of energy and stimulate a vital psycho/physical healing process for a client." 

Following my last post on energy channel stuff a blogger friend Doug asked if I'd heard of trigger points and although I had, I've not read anything about them. He also said that, "Anthony Gary Lopedota noted that when adjusting Paschimuttanasana Sri K. Pattabhi Jois always used to press the same pressure points you've mentioned." Which I found really interesting. I've tried Googling Gary Lopedota to try and find further info on it. The only thing I could find was on his website in one of his articles where he talks about 'the series' and how he used postures for therapeutic reasons, adapting postures for students where necessary:

"Tim (Miller) has a rare anomaly; his liver and spleen are switched. Maybe 1 in 70-100,000 people have this condition. Therapeutically he switches his lotus; keeping with the theory that the liver and spleen are the reason the legs/feet are place in that order. That is all good, he does what he thinks is best being the responsible person that he is. My point is that as the therapist, Patabhi Jois told him to switch his lotus to be in therapeutic alignment" (

If anyone has any further information on the use of trigger points or can point me to more Gary Lopedota information I'd be very grateful. There are also some great old school photos from back in the day of the guys with Jois. :)

1 comment:

  1. Anthony Gary Lopedota is on Facebook. Friend him and post any Ashtanga related question you like on his wall (he won't take questions on PM).