The Layers

by | Jul 27, 2016

I have just come back from a ten-day integral anatomy dissection. This humbling and privileged experience makes me in awe of the body. I am super-spaced out and filled with gratitude.

I wonder – what is the body? Is it interconnected to the universe? Where do you end and it starts? My teacher Gil Hedley often talks about it, and gives these simple analogies: ‘the moon is doing this and affecting you like that’, and ‘when you breathe out the trees breathe in, when they breathe out we breathe in, the sun is your mastery gland, giving light to your body shining through the skin’.

In the lab, the class spends time acknowledging continuity as well as touching and palpating internal textures and structures before removing that layer and going deeper to the next layer. One of the foundations of Thai anatomy is to recognise these anatomical layers, and the importance of treating from superficial to deep.

Spending ten days carefully taking away layers, from skin to muscle to viscera I find I am more able to deeply appreciate and understand human anatomy in the living. Dissection has become one of my favourite things to do, profound on so many levels.

When working with traditional Thai medical theory each of the layers are cared for in a treatment, applying many techniques – some with tools, some with hands – so that skin, superficial and deep fascia, muscle, nerves, tendons, ligaments, bone, viscera etc. are nourished, balanced, supported and dealt with.

The body as a complex integrated whole system responds best when there is regard for the interrelatedness of everything else. Imagine all systems as close friends and in constant communication with each other – address the body in this way the treatments become super effective and remedial. Know that when you outstretch an arm there are nerves and vessel trees that reach with the fascia, muscle and bone.

For a moment lets take a look at one way the first layer – the skin – can be cared for in a treatment.

When friction is applied to the skin layer with hands, heat is generated causing a visual, visceral response called Erythema, i.e. the skin turning red. The redness is the heart reacting and reaching, via the vessel trees that branch throughout the whole body. When I teach this in class, students feel that tingling sensation in their own body. They are connecting to their viscera and they start to understand and know the layers within their own body.

Foundations of Thai bodywork. A six-day module starting in November.

Come on this exciting journey with us to learn more about and embody each layer, and to know intimately what they feel like. This is Thai bodywork training like no other.