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Massage Therapy & Yoga Practise

By Dawn Morse MSc
As published in Om Yoga and Lifestyle Magazine

Massage is a natural therapy that has been used for thousands of years and remains a key method for treating many soft tissue or muscular ailments today. This can be seen in its simplest form when we bump into the side of a table. As adults when we bump into the side of a table, or other object, we often rub the area in order to reduce the discomfort. With these instinctive principles massage therapy in many forms has become increasing popular within the western world.

Many examples of massage therapy are now mainstream practice such as Therapeutic Massage, which uses light flowing massage techniques in order to induce a state of clam and relation; Swedish Massage which uses slightly heavier flowing techniques to induce relaxation, whilst conditioning skeletal muscle; and Sports and Remedial Massage.

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Sports and Remedial and Deep Tissue Massage Therapy, have a different aim as techniques are often applied with a firmer and concise application of alternative methods such as muscle energy techniques.

As a result this type of massage therapy can provide both physical and psychological benefits. In likeness with yoga practise, psychological benefits of massage therapy include; a reduction of stress and anxiety levels, through a calming effect on the nervous system, which can lead to an increase in the sense of wellbeing.


Application of deep tissue massage, has been shown to increase the efficacy of the lymphatic and circulatory systems, which can lead to increased nutrient uptake within muscle and body cells through increased circulation of blood and increased elimination of waste products via the lymphatic system.

Muscular and connective tissue tension can also be relieved through deep tissue massage, which can lead to increased of range of movement throughout the body and improved efficiency of muscular contractions, resulting in increased muscular endurance and functional strength.

Due to these benefits many yoga teachers and practitioners find the benefits of massage therapy complements their yoga practise.
A key reason for this is that, massage therapy can reach areas within the body that is difficult or inaccessible through yoga practice.
Therefore massage therapy combined with yoga practice can lead to further increases of body awareness, reduced muscular tension and further increases of flexibility and stability within the neuromuscular systems.
First hand comments from yoga practitioners and teachers, who also use massage therapy identified that: ‘deep tissue massage eases tensions in areas I would ordinarily struggle with (Sonya D.B, Chippenham)’. ‘When I feel a niggle somewhere it hinders
my yoga practice as I don’t want to make things worse. After massage the niggle is often gone and yoga practice becomes more comfortable again’ (Anthea R, Swindon). 
‘With arthritic knees, I find regular yoga practise and massage really helps my muscles to support my knees’ (Rochelle C, Chippenham).

In addition Lauren R (Swindon) found that after experiencing a chronic hamstring injury about 10 years ago, she tried various different treatments but it was a Deep Tissue Sports Massage Therapist that helped to reduce the injury and enabled her to continue her yoga practise.
Comments such as these help to explain the increased demand for massage therapy and its increased popularity at yoga retreats and holidays.

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These comments are supported in essence by the Hatha Yoga Pradipika text which recommends that self massage should be completed after performing strenuous pranayama. Although this refers to the efforts of pranayama, yoga asana (yoga postures) practice also produces heat and exertion throughout the body, which infers that the modern day yogi can benefit from self massage or professional deep tissue massage after yoga practice.

Essentially deep tissue massage can complement yoga practice through additional stimulation of the circulatory and lymphatic systems; by further reducing muscular tension and increasing range of movement. Massage therapy can be used in combination with yoga practise and other forms of physical activity and sport, to support specific mobility conditions and aid recovery after practice.