Thai massage is a unique modality, also known as Nuad Bo-Rarn, Thai Yoga Bodywork, Thai Yoga Massage or Lazy Man’s Yoga, this centuries old practice has its roots in Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Thai folk healing. Thai Massage occurs on a comfortable floor mat or on a massage table for those who are unable to use the floor mat. The practitioner uses hands, thumbs, forearms, elbows, knees and feet to stimulate meridians and pressure points throughout the body in a meditative, flowing rhythm. The recipient is also guided into passive yoga postures linking breath with movement to stretch muscles, compress and decompress joints and increase range of motion. Whether or not you are a yoga practitioner, Thai Yoga Massage will leave you feeling deeply refreshed and relaxed. And the benefits are long lasting.
History of Thai Massage
Thai massage is believed to have been developed by Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, physician to Buddha, more than 2,500 years ago in India. It made its way to Thailand, where the Ayurvedic techniques and principles gradually became influenced by traditional Chinese medicine.
For centuries, Thai massage was performed by monks as one component of Thai medicine. While the recorded history of Thai massage was lost during the war with Burmese in 1767, the surviving records are now inscribed in stone and can be found within the temple of Pra Chetuphon in Bangkok, known as Wat Po, the temple of the reclining Buddha. Its spiritual aspect also remains as teachers of the therapy begin classes with the practice of waikru, a series of prayers and recitations dedicated to Shivago Komarpaj, the father of Thai massage and the God of Healing, and teachers of the tradition through the centuries.
Dr.Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha
From original manuscript at Wat Pho, “Contortion” is the exercise with stretch and slow movement for body and mind contentment. Contorted Hermit exercise was not only used for body exercise, but also brings about strength, activeness, and relaxation. In addition, it can be applied to cure some simple diseases and bring healthiness.
What is Thai Massage ?
Thai massage looks like a cross between acupressure, yoga, and Zen shiatsu and is inspired by Buddhist teachings. The actual massage consists of slow, rhythmic compressions and stretches along the body's energy lines, also called sen in Thai. Over 70,000 sen are said to exist within the body which power all physical, mental and emotional processes. If there is an energy imbalance, the body's harmony is disrupted, causing pain and disease. Massaging along these key energy lines can break energy blockage, stimulate the circulation and restore general well-being.
Thai massage concentrates on applying pressure along 10 of the most important sen. In doing this, it incorporates acupressure work with a series of assisted yoga-like stretches, in which the practitioner uses his or her hands, arms, legs, and feet to give the massage.
The emphasis is on the practitioner using his or her body weight as much as possible while ensuring that the receiver remains relaxed throughout the entire treatment.
A Thai massage is typically performed on a floor mat enabling practitioners to use their body weight and to incorporate the many movements that would not be possible with a massage table. Normally, the client remains fully clothed, and lubricant for the skin is rarely used. A Thai massage usually lasts one to two hours, but may be three hours or more if needed.
Thai massage includes the following four basic positions:
• from the front with the client lying supine
• from the side with the client alternately lying on either side
• from the back with the client lying prone
• in a sitting position
The body's energy lines, also called "Sen" in Thai
One of the most important principles of Thai massage is the continuous flow of sequential movements that prepares the client for the next step in the massage. The practitioner is always aware of his position so that an uninterrupted slow rhythm is maintained. Deep, sustained pressure ensures that the Myofascia, or the muscle's connective tissue, soften and relax in order to release the flow of energy along the sen, and to prepare the client for the large-scale stretches that follow.
Drawings of acupressure points on "sen" lines at Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok.
What does it do?
The pressing techniques of Thai massage prepare muscles for stretching by increasing their permeability to the flow of Sen energies. The manipulations are designed to stretch the muscles a little more than would be possible unaided. Even advanced yoga cannot compete with the stretching capabilities of Thai massage when applied by an expert.
Tension and spasm in a muscle are the result of a vicious circle of events involving the muscle and its sense organs; those muscles that are antagonistic to it and the brain.
The more tense the muscle the shorter it gets, and the brain interprets this as contraction, so inhibiting the function of the antagonistic muscles, which weaken as a result.
Regular Thai massage stretches the muscles back to their normal resting length, which deceives the brain into 'thinking' that all is well and it stops inhibiting the antagonists. Before long, tension disappears and joint mobility is restored.
Muscles are the masseur's ultimate target but fibrotic connective tissue and weak circulation are also treated during the massage.
How does it feel ?
Different from other forms of bodywork - smoothness, rhythm and flow are three words that come to mind. Hence the nickname “lazy-man's yoga” this is pretty much what it feels like, except that you're receiving an acupressure massage as well.
First time recipients of the massage react differently; some find the pressing techniques - particularly those done with the thumb - a little uncomfortable; others are shocked at the degree of stretching their stiff body can achieve.
Almost all feel relaxed, refreshed and much more flexible afterwards, and those who have regular Thai massage come to enjoy the deep pressure techniques and spectacular manipulations.
What are the benefits ?
Thai massage is given for prophylactic reasons - in general indispositions (headache, muscle weaknesses, upset stomach, stress and others) and also for healing and rehabilitation.
This massage affects strains and infections on muscles, ligaments and joints.
Thai massage influences longevity by strengthening the immune system and balancing
the energy levels.
Benefits of Mind, Body and Spirit
The ancient Thai method induces very successfully for reducing stress by leading to full relaxation.
The use of direct pressure on muscles over most of the body, combined with stretching stimulates bones, joints, muscles, nerves, ligaments and lymphatic system of physiological body:
Improves blood circulation, lowers heart rate, and increases the temperature in the area being massaged.
Relieves muscle tension, removes toxins from muscle mass, reduces stiffness and enhances elasticity of joints.
Stimulates activity of the nerves and sensations with the effects of reducing pain, enhancing sensation to the skin, and improves the function of the internal organs.
Thai massage has very strong positive influence on spirit, due to revival of the life energy with the tenth energetic channels Sen Sib. Synchronizing the breath with light movements during the transition of each sequence will bring the recipient to calm meditative state.