The history of Thai massage goes back a long way. An ancient system of healing with its roots in yoga, Ayurvedic medicine and Buddhist spiritual practice, this therapy dates back some 2500 years. In Thailand massage is a way of life. Massage skills are taught to family members and passed down as a tradition.
The benefits of yoga are well documented. Unlike sports such as gymnastics, yoga works with the breath, allowing the participant to immerse themselves in the practice, heightening body awareness and, with increased practice, can lead to a moving meditation. Yoga Asanas (postures) allow the body to stretch in a way that normal everyday activities don’t always allow. Modern lifestyles mean there is very often little time ore exercise and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, with a high proportion of people working within offices, at desks or computers, means that our bodies are not always used to their full potential. Yoga helps maintain joint mobility and flexibility. A full practice can bring about a sense of wellbeing and balance. Practitioners range from people looking for relaxation, athletes looking to enhance their performance and increase their stamina and flexibility, or those looking to ease pain and tightness.
With Thai massage, all these benefits can be attained to an even further level. Thai massage can be thought of as applied yoga. Wonderful stretches are achieved in the correct manner and I have found that people who practice yoga find then can achieve deeper stretches with the aid of application, than they can on their own. The therapist’s bodyweight helps to provide extra effectiveness with regard to these stretches. Thai massage enhances both yoga and sport, but as well as enhancing flexibility and mobility it is also a therapy that provides a sense of touch that most people find ultimately relaxing, giving a sense of wellbeing and relaxation. As with yoga, Thai massage works with forms of energy know as Qi, or in yogic terms, Prana. The exquisite stretches achieved through massage releases blocked energy and stimulates the body’s natural healing processes. Thai massage also takes away the preoccupation of trying to get into a posture that many people can find in yoga. With someone else applying the stretch for you, the participant can lose the sense of tension associated with trying to force themselves into a posture or executing it incorrectly.
Many of the movements used within Thai massage will be familiar to those who practice yoga. Techniques such as those that involve the backbends and lotus and also a variety of twists are also included within a traditional yoga practice. Spinal twists such as shoulder to opposite knee and stretching the leg horizontally are both examples of postures also found within yoga. I have found it particularly useful for one case study who has suffered from lower back, hip and button pain in her right-hand side from a running injury sustained at least two years ago. As these postures work on the lower back, increase hip flexibility and tension in the hamstrings and glutes as well as the lower back then results have been very positive. And because muscles such as gluteus maximus can be pressed when executing these stretches then the benefits are increased. She has found that points around the hip, in particular gallbladder points 28-30, to be very tender, but concentrated palming and pressing on and around these points has eased her tightness considerably. Other twist techniques have been very successful, including ‘sitting spinal twist’.
Another point raised by a friend recently was that she has never attended a yoga class because she would feel overwhelmed in a class environment. Thai massage can be done in a person’s own home if desired, so there is no need to enter into a gym environment. The room can be made conducive to relaxation, with low lighting and background music if desired. The one to one connection between practitioner and client provides reassurance and calm. The client can be confident that the treatment is right for them and will ease any problems they may have. Think you like yoga? You’ll love Thai massage.