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Tibetan Relaxation: Kum Nye Massage and Movement    by Tarthang Tulku order for
Tibetan Relaxation
by Tarthang Tulku
Order:  USA  Can
Duncan Baird, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The author introduces Kum Nye as 'a series of simple but effective healing exercises that work to relieve stress, transform negative behavioural patterns, promote balance and health, and increase our enjoyment and appreciation of life.' Kum Nye was introduced to him by his father, a lama in eastern Tibet, as exercises to use in preparation for meditation. It is part of the set of practices and theories common to Tibetan, Indian and Chinese medicine, in which yoga and acupuncture are also rooted. The author places Kum Nye in historical context with Ayurveda, Tibetan medicine and Buddhism.

This 'beginner's guide' to Kum Nye relaxation includes detailed, step-by-step instructions, with pictures, for over seventy exercises at three levels of difficulty. Practice is recommended for forty-five (or at least twenty) minutes daily. Start with Sitting, Breathing and Visualization exercises, and then move on to self-massage, which is oriented to a large number of specific 'acupressure' points in the hands, face, head, neck, shoulders, chest, belly, arms, back, legs, hips, and feet. All this should be done with proper breathing. Then Tarthang Tulku suggests working with each level of exercises for several months before moving on to the next.

We are told that 'true relaxation is the state of perfect balance' and these exercises work towards that. They include simultaneous movements of different parts of the body, with some similarities to yoga stretching and balance techniques. The photographs and explanations make movements clear, and chapter introductory texts explain more spiritual objectives, the overall aim being 'a perception of oneness and a sense of connection with our surroundings' through 'an open-ended journey into your inner feelings.' To encourage that, a retreat to a natural setting is suggested, several times a year if possible.

It's a beautiful book, the colors and images themselves relaxing to look at. The combination of acupressure and exercise is intriguing. Unlike many manuals on exercise techniques, instructions are clear and detailed, explaining not just the movements but also what to expect in terms of release of tension and feelings. Given the increasing interest in yoga, meditation and Buddhist practice in Western society, this should be a popular guide.

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