Yoga as we know it, is much more then just stretching the physical body. It is an integral branch of the Ayurvedic Medicine system. This particular form of bodywork from India is just part of an ancient medical science to treat mind, body, and spirit. Traditional Chinese Medicine also has Qigong and other forms of bodywork to support their ancient healing system. Traditional Thai Medicine (TTM) is similar in this way, but we will go further into those branches later on. Thai Massage is just one branch, and so much more then just bodywork. Because of Thailand's location, this honorable culture had the privilege of having been influenced by Indigenous practices, Ayurveda, Hatha Yoga, China, and Theraveda Buddhism. This melting pot of profound circumstances has produced the most effective and impressive form of Medicine you can fathom.
What to Expect:
Out of respect for the Thai culture, Traditional Thai Massage can only be defined in one way. This form of massage is only practiced fully clothed, on a specialized mat on the floor. Many different professional places advertise Thai Massage as integrated on the table or combined with other modalities, but this is not considered Traditional Thai Massage. That includes "Thai Yoga Massage"-a form of bodywork that may be practiced by Yogi's who choose to incorporate more Ayurvedic practices into the Thai Massage, but again this is a hybrid or ingenuine evolution of Traditional Thai Massage.
Thai Massage combines these basic four elements:
- Soothing compression techniques to relax the muscles
- Passive stretching
- Joint Mobilization
- Acupressure and Sen Line work
Hot Herbal Compresses and potent, pain relieving Thai Balms may be incorporated into your treatments. Classic Thai Massage is exceptional for relaxation purposes as well as beneficial for deep tissue and sports recovery objectives, but the Medical Thai Massage can be much more intense. Advanced Thai Massage treatments focus on removing blockages in your Sen Lines to effectively release pain and disease stuck in the body.
For those that are more familiar with Thai Massage, you may have heard about the differences between Rural vs. Royal and/or Northern vs. Southern forms of Thai Massage. There is no need to request or confirm a certain style, and lineages vary considerably all over the world. Lineages of Thai Massage are the styles and theories passed down from venerable Teacher's over the centuries. The Lineage I am certified in hails from the founder of the Old Medicine Hospital in Chiang Mai (also known as the Thai Massage School Shivagakomarpaj), Ajahn ( "Master Teacher" ) Sintorn Chaichakan. Here is some more clarification on that subject:
Rural- poorly documented and informally handed down
Royal- well documented knowledge taught in a formal setting
Northern- softer, smoother, more relaxing to receive
Southern- rough, jarring, more intense to receive
Rural- common folk traditions practiced on the average person
Royal- only performed with strict protocol for Royalty
Northern vs. Southern- doesn't exist
Traditional Thai Medicine & The Circle of Life
There are three branches of Thai Medicine. The Body, is comprised of physical structures and physiological processes that are treated by diet, herbs, and a Traditional Doctor. Citta is known as the "mind/heart" connection, it encompasses all mental and emotional processes (intellect, beliefs, thoughts, reason and learning, feelings, faith, intuition, and spirituality) and utilizes Buddhism and Shamanism to treat psychological and spiritual imbalances. The third branch is Energy. Energy is categorized as relatively physical, mental and spiritual manifestations, electricity, magnetism, temperature, mood and energy level, and is the vital life-force that sustains us. This life-force is called "Lom" in Thailand, much like Prana or Chi. It is in this branch where we find Thai Massage.
If there is an imbalance in one branch, all three are effected. Every branch needs to be appropriately addressed to achieve balance in all three. TTM is an effective system that combines food as medicine with herbal assistance, Medical Thai Massage to treat the Lom in the body, and the guidance of Monks or Shamans to change unhealthy lifestyles. This guidance for the Citta branch includes the regular practice of meditation to cultivate mindfulness and manage stress.
Now that you have a better understanding of what Thai Massage truly is, I invite you to meet me on the Mat and experience how this profound treatment can impact your life.
With Metta (translates from Thai as "loving kindness"),