While in Thailand, I have had my fair share of amazing messages. Thai massage is a very famous, ancient healing system combining Acupressure, Indian Ayurvedic principles, and assisted yoga postures.

There are no oils or lotions used in Thai Massage and one remains clothed during the treatment. There is constant body contact between the therapist and customer as the body is compressed, pulled, stretched and rocked. The therapists who administer these messages quite literally get up and walk on your back!

Recently while in Chiang Mai, I came across Lila Thai Massage, there are a few of these places scattered throughout Chiang Mai.

Established by Naowarat Thanasrisutharat who is former Director of Chiang Mai Woman’s Prison, Lila Thai Massage helps support the lives of newly released inmates in society. Admirably, Naowarat Thanasrisutharat has spent the greater part of her 40-year career understanding and bridging the gap between the public, and the problems released inmates encounter when adapting to a new community. Prior to their release, these carefully screened inmates go through an extensive training program which allows them to make a living and contribute to society.

In Thailand like Ireland and many other Western Countries, these detainees often encounter discrimination from potential employers who refuse to hire these skilled therapists. Thus, due to lack of employment opportunities, some ladies may return to crime and find themselves back in prison. The Lila Thai Massage was established to help eliminate this pattern of crime and lack of

“The Lila Thai Massage was established to help eliminate this pattern of crime and lack of opportunity.”

Personally, when I came across Lila Thai Massage while out and about one day in Chiang Mai and when I heard all about the program, I was intrigued and knew I wanted to experience and support this establishment.

On my first visit, I had a foot massage/reflexology as well as a Back, Shoulder and Neck message. Once inside the beautifully designed reception area, my therapist washed my feet as per the customs here in Thailand and led us upstairs to the changing room. We were then given clothing to change into. These garments included a light, cropped blouse and a pair of traditional Thai Fisherman PantsOur bags, phones, and wallets were then locked into personal lockers and we were led to one of many massage rooms.

Settled in a cost, quiet room with five beds, our treatments were exceptional.  We were treated to sweet Thai tea as well throughout the session. Both our massage therapists were absolutely lovely, professional ladies; always checking in to make sure we were okay and comfortable.

Of all the messages I’ve received in Thailand (too many to count!) these were probably the most professional and highly trained therapists. They were very experienced, polite and kind. My double massage, which turned out to be a full body Thai masterpiece set me back about 650 Baht/€17.

Of course, you can find cheaper massage therapists in parlors all over Thailand offering massages for as little at 300 Baht/ €4, but I suppose quality trumps quantity here as Lila Massage definitely delivered!!

Information from Lila Thai Massages site tells us that the “Chiang Mai Women’s Prison and the Institute of Skill Development have designed an 180-hour massage training course for the inmates, which are endorsed and meet the requirements of the Public Health Department.”  –  Thus, we, the public are guaranteed to receive a fully trained professional massage therapist.

On my second visit to Lila, I was in a lot of pain in my shoulder, back and arm due to a long few days sightseeing and hiking. I opted for the Hot Oil Massage as well as the Thai herbal compress also. I hadn’t known much about the herbal compress before this trip to Thailand so I was excited to try it out.

The oil massage was absolutely beautiful. The hot oil worked wonderfully on my muscles and tendons which I hadn’t noticed but really needed it due to the sheer amount of yoga and walking I am doing every day. This was followed by the Thai herbal compress application.

Thai herbal compress therapy dates back nearly 5,000 years, to a time when the knowledge of plants, including their effects through ingestion/application on the body, were thoroughly researched by healers and passed down from generation to generation. therapeutic herbs like

Therapeutic herbs like prai, ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass are used in the compress to relieve pain and inflammation. These herbs are then bundled together and wrapped in a muslin compress, steamed and applied to the body in gentle pressing, circular and rolling movements.

This was a treat for my very sore back and neck! Hotter than your normal ‘Hot Stone Massage’ but also different in the process of application. This is definitely something that I will do again as it really worked out a lot of muscle pain for me and left me feeling blissfully relaxed and at ease.

All in all, I really enjoyed my therapies at Lila Thia Massage and highly recommend them to anyone who may be visiting Chiang Mai. The massage parlors are impeccable clean, comfortable and rather luxurious. The decor is also beautiful, in shades of Orchid purple.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of my experience here as the have a no photography policy as well as it being a very relaxing place where phones are put away so one can enjoy the atmosphere. (They do have Wifi though, you know.. while you wait!)

I really love and have respect for this program also whereby former inmates get training and job opportunities after serving their time. It sheds a very a positive light on their new lives and allows them to earn a living and start a new life to support themselves and their families.

Find Lila Massage here and be sure to visit them next time you’re in Chiang Mai!

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” Buddha

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OS-4289“Yoga means to unite. When practicing Yoga we unite our bodies, our breath and our mind. This is a very important practice as we all too often live in the past or the future. To practice Yoga, is to come into the present moment and that is where life is happening.”

In this post, Im sharing some photos from a shoot I did back in November, hard to believe with that gorgeous sunshine!? It was a beautiful, crisp Autumn’s day, the last one of the year. I met Sinead of LoveYoga Galway at one of our joint favourite spot (Barna woods), early in the day. We wandered about, chatting and laughing finding nice spots to stop and snap.  At this time, I’d been practicing Yoga with Sinead for about four months. Since arriving home from Thailand in September, I knew I wanted to continue on with my practice and work on my body and mind.

OS-4161Sinead teaches Hatha Yoga which very slow and relaxed, exactly what I needed. Hatha Yoga is a traditional Yoga practice from India dating back thousands of years. Using our breath along with the poses helps to nourish our bodies, we build a better relationship with our bodies, giving it attention, giving our bodies love & acceptance – this is the core ethos of Hatha Yoga. Having personally tried some other types of Yoga I found Hatha is definitely my preference at the moment in regards my spine. So I started to practice with Sinead twice a week at the Sat Nam Centre in Galway City.

When I started last year with Sinead, the evenings were getting shorter and darker. This meant that inevitably, there were evenings where I didn’t feel boundless amounts of energy and joy at the thought of going to Yoga and sometimes the couch seemed a lot more enticing but seeing Hatha is so slow and relaxing that these evenings were made so much easier!

I found Yoga easy when I started. I started my training with Maev Craven (she’s also amazing) who was doing private classes with me last year due to a severe spinal injury I have. I took it really easy and at my own pace. With Hatha being so slow, meditative and based on breathing – staring is a lovely process. After not long at all, I started doing two classes a week with Sinead and could visibly see and feel the newly gained strength and flexibility in my body. The pain I was feeling in my back was lessening and the constant stretching of the spine was really working for me.

003OS-4363 OS-4361I went to my first Yoga class about ten years ago and class by class I got hooked! I was suffering from severe anxiety at the time that I started. I loved the high intensity in the class but when it came to relaxation, my mind was racing and I wanted to leave. It just showed me how much I needed it [Yoga].”  Sinead tells me. “My body and mind were completely disconnected. I see how it happens so easily to people. We can live so much in our heads, living in the past and the future and becoming totally out of sync with ourselves. This will only end is some sort of dis-ease in the body.” 

Sinéad Mc Kiernan of LoveYoga Galway studied Hatha Yoga in India. “It was an intense course, waking up at 4am for meditation and finally finishing with anatomy class at 9pm. The days were filled with Yoga practice, Pranayama ( breathing) classes, Yoga philosophy, Meditation, Anatomy, Ayurveda Medicine and teaching practice.” Sinead said. She knew from the start that it was for her as she loved navigating the courses, working with the teachers and loved to learn more and more.

LoveYoga Galway has been very successful so far and is proving a big hit with Galway Yogi’s. As the classes and workshops fill up, Sinead has been connecting with all walks of life and all ages. With a great online presence, Sinead’s classes are filling up quick! “The ratio of women is higher but there are some great lads coming to my classes and I encourage more to come!” she said. “Yoga is great for everyone. People have their pre-conceptions of what it is. Every class is different but you should feel great benefits even after one class. It`s meditation, exercise, relaxation and therapy combined.”

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Where does Sinead see LoveYoga Galway going in the future? “I would like Yoga to be accessible to everyone, everywhere.” she said. “I feel everyone should try a class at least once! There are no expectations, no pre-requisites. Breathing mindfully is Yoga as is doing a headstand. I encourage people to do what suits them, challenge themselves but to go at their own pace.” Already this year Sinead has a jam packed calendar of events, classes and workshops! She is working on online tutorials, is on social media and is doing Youga tutorials on Youtube too! She loves to help people realise their potential and use the tools they already possess to relax and have fun. Find Sinead at LoveYoga Galway here and book a taster class, Im sure you will enjoy it!


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