The SomaVeda® Thai Yoga Facilitated Whale: Ardis Matsyendra
The SomaVeda® The Asymmetrical Facilitated 1/2 whale/ fish pose: (Thai “Maak Bpla”, Giant Fish) or back bend with support (Thai, Leg or Bolster-Pillow).
By Ajahn, Dr. Anthony B. James: Founder and Dean of the SomaVeda College of Natural Medicine and Thai Yoga Center.
SomaVeda Integrated Traditional Therapies® Thai Yoga & Ayurveda Medicine are indigenous, traditional, spiritual medical practices adopted and used by the Native American Indigenous Church. See “What is Thai Yoga?” We learned this traditional tribal medicine from our elders in Thailand, India, Myanmar etc. These elders and medicine men and women granted us the permissions to teach others in a good way. This lesson is one of many hundreds on the many ways to bring about wellness, wellbeing, healing and vitality using traditional medicine.
Please Note: There is no better way to learn physical medicine, Chirothesia and or Kayachikitsa than under personal supervision of a master teacher! For information on SomaVeda® classes and programs check out our 164 hr. SomaVeda® Thai Yoga Practitioner course description!
Starting Position: The SomaVeda® Thai Yoga Facilitated Whale is a classic “Back Bend” and another “Yin and Yang”/ “Male and Female” emphasis balancing posture. One of the major and important differences in the SomaVeda® Thai Yoga application of this therapeutic asana is that unlike the conventional Hatha Yoga posture with the same name, there is no stress, no antagonistic reflex or controlling muscular tension in the clients anterior torso as they are lowered into the bridge by the therapist/ practitioner!
This is huge! Before this experience the client has never before performed a back bend with the flexing of the abdomen and anterior spinal muscles and without the concomitant stress and tension on the anterior connective tissue and facial planes. Not only does this profoundly change the way the act of back bending is experienced from a physical perspective, it changes the emotional context and experience of the back bend. The greatest inhibition to doing successful, controlled and pain free, stress free back bends is not physical! It is emotional. By facilitating and literally guiding the client into the backward bending posture in a slow and controlled, in a completely supported fashion… the defensive and protective reflexes both physical and or emotional are reduced and or eliminated. The client can “relax” into the extension. They can collapse into the therapeutic posture, safe in the feeling of security and also knowing they do not have to get back out! They do not have to worry about escaping the posture.
On the receiving side, this can be momentous to the point of mind blowing and we expect to see both physical and emotional breakthroughs.
Because this posture is fully supported the therapist is not straining. The healer usually employees coaching, Prana Yama and or Energy Psychology adjusts while gently guiding the client into extension and the final resting position.
The client starts in Ardis Pamasana (Half Lotus or Vajra Asana/ Posture or variant such as simply comfortable sitting ) and the therapists is in Virasana (Warrior sitting pose) at right angles behind the client.
This Yoga bridge emphasis one side of the client/ patients spine more than the other (unilateral- asymmetrical facilitation). This allows the asymmetrical emphasis to address a one sided imbalance more specifically (i.e. Yin or Yang/ Male or Female side imbalance). The final position can have the clients hands in the low position when the client is restricted or the more advanced variations, with the clients hands extended overhead for a deeper bridge.
Back bends are considered one of the most important of Yoga asana and generally have the following benefits:
Release and extension of the anterior spinal muscles.
The posterior range of motion counterbalances head forward postures both in practice and pathological such as inclinations to “Red Light” or emotionally guarding postures. Red Light postures are guarding postures which are like the “Turtle” i.e. head forward and down, chin down, shoulders up and forward, chest sunken or back and pronounced curve or mid shoulder arch. We say that individuals with the Red Light posture are guarding or protecting the heart, heart chakra and or throat and may have history or issues of emotional and or physical abuse as well as issues with communication and expression of being who they are.
In practice, if we do forward bends, we always want to include back bends as counter poses.
Increases proprioception in both client and by therapist. Because the client is actually bending over our thighs we can actually feel, in real time, the spinal segments from sacrum to head including spinal, thoracic and cervical vertebrae which are and or are not responding. These locked or unresponsive spinal segments could indicate many issues such as actual spinal damage, spinal lesions and scar tissue to areas relating to emotional guarding and issues.
This posture presents all of the primary chakra and Sen lines, especially Sen Sumana or Sushumna to view and consciousness and available for attention and pressure. The therapists legs are bring energy attention, consciousness breath and pressure to the posterior lines: Sen Itha, Pinghala and both anterior and posterior meridians such as conception vessel, governing vessal and Bladder meridian. The psoas-diaphramatic complex from knee to thorax is activated and accessible.
The rib cage is open and in and extended position. The lower part creates abdominal space encouraging circulation for the various abdominal organs and is a good opportunity to actually do an abdominal focus and the entire position facilitates the flow of prana from neck to groin. This posture coupled with Pranayama or deep breathing is nothing less than amazing.
Again and super important in understanding the dramatic effects of the Whale… Especially in persons who have previously been practicing back bends of one type or another… the bridge is fully supported with the client passive, the normal antagonistic muscular reflexes and control mechanisms common to almost all back bends are reduced or not present.
At the top of the neck, there is good potential for a safe release of the neck affecting both posterior and anterior cervical structures and there is little o no risk of hyper-extension of spinal or cervical structures.
Once in the apex or final extension/ position, hold and support until the client completely releases all holding and tension and literally collapses into the support.
Adding a Dosha specific balancing emphasis such as rocking while holding works great and should be done before and after any specific point or line work. When you add the element of “rocking ” to this posture it immediately then becomes a Complex Decongestion technique facilitating Manual Lymph Drainage with an anti-inflammatory effect. The 1/2 Whale is terrific for moving fluids and congestion out of the lungs when vibration and “thumping” technique over the chest area is used.
Especially for women, If you also want a “Breast Care” emphasis the posture is the perfect posture to support or enhance a breast care & therapy protocol.
What if the client can not do the Whale?
No worries. First try to do it on the Mat or Table slowly with incremental control. If the client still can not fully engage then try using the bolster or even a pillow for a more balanced, less specific and lower or less extreme bridge and try again! All but the most inhibited clients can do this or one of the gentler variations. If they can still not do the supported and facilitated Giant Fish Pose then … skip it! Move on to the next. Try again another day!
Which reminds we! Specific point and or Low energy point/ Wind Gate release is perfect for this posture. There are many, abdominal and or torso chest, breast area points and Thai Low which are so easy to reach while in the Whale. The Whale presents a perfect opportunity to expand the treatment focus and experience depending on the clients prognosis or needs. Many times I have used the Whale as a place to do energy psychology, work on surfacing issues and as an alternative Puja or Prayer and affirmation opportunity. Try it!
To learn more and to receive specific and detailed instruction in the SomaVeda® Thai Yoga Facilitated Giant Half Whale consider going one of our SomaVeda® Thai Yoga Practitioner or Advanced Ayurveda Certification courses at https://thaiyogacenter.com. We offer live practitioner retreats six times a year: January, March, May, July, September and or November. Additionally we offer amazing and generous tuition Grants and scholarships to help with your finances. Can’t make a live class? We have On-line courses as well which you can start today!