Traditional Thai Yoga (in Thailand also called Reusi Dat Ton or Reu-Si Datton) is an ancient form of Thai Bodywork, and part of Traditional Thai Medicine. The work consists of breathing exercises, self-massage, and a variety of poses and sequences which are performed in standing, sitting, or lying positions.
Reu-Si Datton, like Traditional Thai Massage, is based on the Thai concept of the Sen (energy channels) distributing vital energy through the body, and is by some considered to be the foundation of Traditional Thai Massage.
It’s believed that through regular practice of Reu-Si Datton one can stimulate and balance the free flow of vital energy in oneself, hence ensuring a healthier body and mind.
Reu-Si Datton is a quite unknown aspect of Traditional Thai culture, yet many that counts for the history of Traditional Thai Massage can be applied to Reu-Si Datton also. It furthermore clearly uses some of the same techniques which can be found in Indian and Tibetan Yoga.
Proof of its ancient history can be seen in the depictions of Reu-Si Datton techniques which can be seen in historic artwork and temples in various locations in Thailand. Famous are the statues in the garden of the Wat Po temple in Bangkok (recently with many new additions) where one can find sculptures of yogis showing a variety of Rue-Si Datton poses.
“Reu-si” in Thai, comes from the Indian word “Rishi” and means Ascetic or Hermit. The “Dat” word means to stretch, and “Ton” refers to oneself. “Reusi Dat Ton” then means something like “the hermit who stretches him/herself.”
It seems plausible that Reu-Si Datton shares a common source with Tibetan and Indian Yoga, entering Southeast Asia with the spreading of Buddhism. It’s said that Traditional Thai Massage itself may originate from Reu-Si Datton where Thai Massage is then considered the “applied form” of the various yogic and stretching techniques.
A Ruesi Datton session can be done virtually everywhere, with or without a (yoga) mat, and typically takes about 45 to 60 minutes. It can consist of rather basic stretches, suitable for almost anyone, or of (very) advanced exercises which could take years to perform correctly.