Traditional Thai Yoga: The Postures and Healing Practices of Ruesri Dat Ton is such a perfectly designed book, it is worth owning for purely aesthetic reasons. The cover is informative but not cluttered, and the photography is clear and appealing with accompanying instructions that make it a breeze for readers to copy the postures. Heck, the book even smells good!
Those familiar with Thai massage will likely recognize the foundation of many of these poses, but those new to Thai healing modalities needn’t be intimidated. Unlike Thai massage, which requires a practitioner and a recipient of the practice, these yoga poses are done solo. The intended result of both, however, is to balance the flow of sen, the energy that flows through the body, so that the body can heal itself.
The authors provide a brief but satisfying history of Ruesri Dat Ton, ‘the hermit’s autocure.’ Believed to have been developed by Jivaka Kumarabhaca, a physician in the Buddha’s community, these poses are depicted in the statues of Wat Pho temple in Bangkok, and the book includes photographs of some of those. While the art of the temple is magnificent and well worth studying, the models who demonstrate the poses in this book are equally beautiful and considerably easier to emulate.
Instructions that accompany the photographs give details of the postures along with precautions and the reassurance that there is no need to make this harder than it is. Simple, steady, and slow are the keywords here: “The final result should be a feeling of complete well-being.”
The 60 poses are arranged in clusters according to the specific health issues they address: head, neck, and shoulders; torso; extremities; and overall physical or emotional problems. Postures can be done alone or in sequence, and adjustments for the individual’s flexibility and current state of health are explained.
Authors Enrico Corsi and Elena Fanfani both hold degrees in Thai massage from the Wat Pho temple. Corsi is also the founder of the Academia di Massaggio Tradizionale Thailandese in Milan. It appears to be the authors who demonstrate the postures in the book, and their mastery is evident in the graceful body lines shown here.
Lacking any current health problems, I can’t testify to the effectiveness of the healing poses. Nevertheless, performing some of the postures for several days, I find that there is a heightened sense of comfort during the practice, a contented stillness that arises during practice. Perhaps it’s the improvement in blood flow, or the simple, unhurried movement that encourages a sense of peace. Either way, Traditional Thai Yoga is highly recommended for yogis and non-yogis, and as a gift for yourself and others.