Thai Massage is new to modern spas, but it is actually an ancient form of massage thought to have been developed by Buddhist monks in Thailand 2,500 years ago. It uses passive stretching and gentle pressure along the body’s energy lines to increase flexibility, relieve muscle and joint tension and balance the body’s energy systems.
Thai massage therapy has been practiced in Thailand for thousands of years. It combines stretching and acupressure on pressure points and along ten energy channels called sen sib. Recipients wear comfortable clothing that is loose fitting, and lie on a massage mat or other cushioned floor mat. Thai massage is typically a full body massage that can last up to two hours.
Thai massage is found everywhere in Thailand for a very low price, both in spas and in stalls on the streets. There are many schools where you can learn this style of massage as well. The most famous school is the Watpo Thai Traditional Massage School located in the temple of the reclining Buddha in Bangkok. Many people also travel to Chiang Mai to study at the Thai Massage School of Thailand and the Old Medicine Hospital.
Modern Thai massage practiced today is the product of a 19th-century synthesis of various healing traditions from all over Thailand. There is considerable variation from region to region across Thailand, and no single routine or framework is universally accepted among massage therapists.
The popularity of Thai massage is increasing in Canada. Many larger cities have clinics or spas that are designed specifically for massage done on the floor. Other clinics offer a modified form of this massage that is done on a traditional massage table rather than the floor.
Acupressure is pressure that a therapist applies with thumbs, elbows and knees. It uses the same principles as acupuncture to promote relaxation and wellness and to treat disease.
A typical Thai treatment begins at the feet and work up the body. Therapists apply deep pressure called acupressure along energy channels called sen lines using their hands, elbows, arms, knees and feet. And they stretch the recipient by moving their body into many different yoga-like positions that help increase range of motion. This last reason is why Thai massage is sometimes called lazy man’s yoga or assisted yoga.
Thai massage has obvious benefits for increasing flexibility and range of motion, but there are other benefits as well. The stretches help relax your muscles, loosen your body and improve the range of motion in all your joints.
The movement in this style of massage helps to enhance the circulation of blood in the body. This brings more oxygen to your brain and lowers the chance of blood clotting. And a Thai massage encourages slow and deep breathing that balances your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The results is that your body functions better, stronger and faster.
Both the therapist and the recipient are energized by this style of massage. A monthly Thai massage is recommended for those who do not get enough physical exercise. But the effects of regular Thai massage are cumulative. If the goal is one of health maintenance, a Thai massage every week or two can help one feel better and reduce tension and stress levels.
Origin of Thai Massage
Thai massage is a healing system that has existed in Thailand for over two thousand years. Most attribute the origin of this massage to Buddhist monks. But this style has influences from Indian, Chinese and other Southeast Asian medicine traditions and techniques.
For centuries, Thai families passed down their knowledge of massage techniques from generation to generation. Buddhist monks wrote formal manuscripts about Thai massage in ancient Pali. Many of these manuscripts were destroyed in 1767 by the Burmese invaders. Then, in 1832, King Rama III instructed Thai therapists to use the epigraphs at Wat Pho to reclaim the lost techniques.
Thailand is now popular tourist destination and many people travel to Thailand specifically to learn Thai massage. Some therapists specialize in the Thai techniques, but many more incorporate the techniques into their existing expertise.
Professional Thai massage practitioners are regulated by the Ministry of Education in Thailand. There is also limited oversight in other countries. In Canada, this governance is provided by the Natural Health Practioners of Canada (NHPC); the largest holistic health association in Canada.
Types of Thai Massage
The word for traditional Thai massage is nuad boran. Nuat phaen thai means Thai-style massage. Nuat phaen boran means ancient-style massage. And nuat boran translates as traditional Thai medical massage.
English designations include traditional Thai massage, Royal Thai massage, Thai stretching massage, and Thai yoga massage.
The massage styles vary from north to south in Thailand. Massage in southern Thailand is sometimes called Bangkok massage, or southern style. Northern Thai massage is sometimes called Lanna style massage, or northern style.
Royal Thai Massage
Royal Style massage, intended for royalty, maintains a larger distance between the therapist and recipient.
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