I prefer answers to questions about things we can only feel to have at least a toe-hold in science. But that’s just me. My geeky half has a cynical side.
So when I attended Yiwen Chang’s Thai Massage Workshop at Prajna Yoga and Healing Arts Studio in Belmont, California and heard the human rights lawyer to my left ask, “What is the scientific evidence for the energy channels you’ve mentioned?” I pricked up my ears and smiled. This was going to get interesting.
I don’t know why I expected Yiwen, the owner and director of Prajna, to fluster and stutter before brushing the question under her yoga mat with a few stock phrases about ‘staying present’ and being ‘one with the universe’. Maybe it was my own propensity towards flustering in the face of a student’s challenging inquiry. In any case, I steeled myself to witness an epic fail.
Instead Yiwen cited research by Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama, the founder of the California Institute for Human Science. She made a polite but strong case for the existence of meridians and then moved on.
That’s when I knew I was in the right place. That’s when I knew what Yiwen had created in Prajna Yoga and Healing Arts was something different. Something special.
Prajna is Sanskrit for the wisdom that embraces an intuitive response to the true nature of reality. With prajna in mind, Yiwen has created a studio that provides the space to nurture our inner intelligence. She’s created a clean, well-lit place for yoga and healing.
Prajna Yoga and Healing Arts is an easy studio to be in. Its warmth is inviting and its simplicity refreshing. Located in the Belmont Business Center at 1601 El Camino Real (take the Holly Street exit from 101), the studio is easy to find and even better – there is ample parking.
The check-in area is just inside the front door. There’s a large treatment room to the left where Yiwen offers bodywork. To the right is an open space dedicated to personal reflection and meditation. Next to that are several benches with cushion seats where students can enjoy a cup of tea and quiet conversation. A small changing area is available directly across from the practice studio.
And then there’s the practice space itself. Filled with soft natural light from filtered skylights and east facing windows, the room’s energy is welcoming, quiet and calm.
Twelve of us rolled out mats and gathered props for the afternoon workshop. Thai Massage is one of my favorite therapeutic modalities. The technique is akin to facilitated stretching. The therapist eases the client’s clothed body into gentle positions that lengthen, compress and ultimately draw out tension and soothe the nervous system. Pressure point massage techniques contribute to the experience.
It takes years to become proficient in the finer nuances of Thai Massage, but Yiwen’s intention for the workshop was to teach a minimal introduction to the basics. She hoped we’d leave with enough information and confidence to give a simple Thai Massage treatment to friends and family.
We settled in quickly and within minutes were taking turns pushing, prodding and bending our very willing partners. Taking turns giving and receiving every few minutes prevented anyone from slipping into ‘massage coma’.
Yiwen is an intuitive and generous teacher with a lovely, healing energy. As we practiced she knew when to offer help and when to stand back to observe. If there was a downside to the workshop it’s that three hours wasn’t long enough. Watching Yiwen teach, it was clear she had much more to offer. I hope she considers teaching a Thai Massage, Part II Workshop soon.
If you’re looking for a yoga studio that gives you the feeling that you’ve come home, visit Prajna Yoga and Healing Center.
Check out Prajna’s class schedule here: http://www.prajnacenter.com/
This post, I’m very happy to say, originally appeared on YogaStage.