Nâga: A Different Path To Bliss
By Araxe Hajian
The Nâga is a mystical, shape-shifting creature from Thai mythology. Powerful cobra, swift serpent, or human being — it can also achieve a monk-like state of enlightenment.
When you begin the Nâga service at Miraval’s Life in Balance Spa, you won’t find snakes or monks, but you will find skilled therapists who have extensive training and experience in Thai massage. Miraval Resorts’ spa team has curated a space of tranquility, reverence, and fluid motion. They combine intention and silk to encourage dialogue, collaboration, and an individually tailored treatment.
“In order for transformation to take place,” says Miraval Arizona Spa Director Heidi Smith-Mullen, “we have to stay focused on our purpose and presence. You can visualize the shift in physical and mental alignment to make the experience unique to you.”
The ancient art of Thai massage subtly transforms—like the mythological Nâga—into a spiritual process that unfurls as you immerse yourself in this treatment. It wraps itself around you and allows you to unwind—physically and mentally—with the unique strength, grace, and softness of silk suspended from the sky (or in this case, the ceiling). Don’t worry, this isn’t acrobatics; the therapist uses the material to aid in their own balance and to better distribute the application of pressure.
I have experienced countless massages on a table, my tired body soothed and nurtured and happy to lie still while expert hands worked their magic. At times I have relaxed so much that I have fallen asleep.
But there’s no sleeping here. This is a different path to bliss. Instead of lying on a table, you recline on a large mat with cushions on the floor. Hanging on all sides are beautiful, blue silks. You are fully clothed. At times, your therapist will (gently) walk on you, pull an arm or leg in one direction or another, or ask you to breathe in a certain way.
Nâga invites you to leave the World Out There and enter a Miraval state of mind. Thai massage departs from traditional bodywork by asking you to remain present and actively participate and engage in the therapeutic work.
“This is a time to let the body open up,” explains Miraval Austin Spa Director Kayla Fournerat, “to be an active participant in your experience. Together we create a collaborative, intuitive dance of sorts.“
The first time I tried Nâga, I found myself needing to close my eyes — not out of fatigue or sleepiness, but because the mind-body connection was so intense. I found myself co-creating an intimacy of limb and thought, as if my body had known this secret language of communication — of saying “yes, it’s OK to move my leg that way or stretch my arm behind my head this way” — but had not found fellow speakers until this moment.
This silent communion was unexpected, protective, and nurturing. In that same moment, I could feel my frame morph and lengthen, like silken strands being gently and expertly reeled out of their stiff cocoon beginnings.
Giving & Receiving
Afterward, I shared my observation with my therapist that they must have a strong sense of empathy to do this kind of work. This is a nod to the Thai people, whose culture centers on Metta, an attitude of loving-kindness and compassion toward others, or loving without clinging. It is ingrained in their culture in a way that isn’t always emphasized or encouraged in ours. It is a concept of giving and also receiving that is essential to learning, helping, and accepting for both client and practitioner.
The Nâga is the snake that delivers benevolence, never venom. It is a symbol of a treatment at the Life in Balance Spa that pays homage to the organic nature of our states of being—to our capacity for change and creative exploration. It reaches beyond the idea of transformation and stretches wider.
You can be the cobra, invigorated in a heightened state of energy, and the monk, tranquil, mindful, and meditative—or both at the same time.
This Nâga may not—as some myths suggest—carry the elixir of life. But Nâga at Miraval Resorts can stretch time and spin the stars of our own personal skies. It can help us carry the weight of the world, lifting it out of our muscles and memories to share it. We transform as we move; like air, like water, like silky fiber, guided by the loving-kindness of human hands and hearts.
Araxe Hajian is a senior writer who covers wellness stories and specialist offerings at Miraval Resorts & Spas. She was associate editor and writer at Life in Balance Magazine, storyteller at the social platform MindMeet, and author of numerous articles and Miraval Resorts’ coffee-table book Miraval Mindful by Design.