Updated: Jan 29, 2019
“When a person is sick at Siam (Pre-1949 Thailand) he begins with causing his whole body to be moulded by one who is skilful herein, who gets upon the body of the sick person and tramples him under his feet.” Simon de la Loubere, French liason to the Thai Royal Court in Ayutthai, 1690.
The origins of Thai Massage are quite obscure, in Thai, “Traditional Massage” translates as the “Ancient Massage”, and its lineage can be traced back 2,500 years to India, the times of the Buddha and the legendary doctor Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha.
Traditional Thai Massage works on lines of energy called the SEN, and herein lies the influence of yoga philosophy. The techniques used to stimulate and massage these accupressure lines resemble the movements of Hatha Yoga. Traditional or Ancient Massage Teachers in Thailand will often be practicing Buddhists and regularly meditate as they believe that only a masseuse working in a meditative mood will develop an intuition for the energy flow in the body.
Traditional Thai Massage has now moved over to the Western World, and is sometimes known as Thai Yoga Massage. Physiotherapy and chiropractice are arguably the closest forms of bodywork in the West, although these practices work anatomically, rather than with energy flow. I have found many similarities between physiotherapy and Tradition Thai Massage techniques whilst giving NHS prescribed physiotherapy to clients in my care who have Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.
Before a Thai Massage, your practitioner should ask you questions about your current physical situation, your energy levels, what you would like to gain from your treatment, and whether you have had any injuries (recent, or old) that are significant or give you pain, whether you have any bruises, whether you are on your period, and if there are any areas in particular that you would like worked on. A professional masseuse will be an active listener, and will hear what you are saying. They may ask further questions to gain some more understanding of you and what you want from your treatment.
Traditional Thai Massage is received on the floor, on a futon style matt in various positions. You may be lying prone, supine, on your side, or sitting upright. You will be fully clothed, and blankets, pillows, and props such as extra cushions will be used throughout to suit your body’s needs. For example someone who cannot sit cross-legged will be asked to sit on a cushion or a bolster, or even a chair.
During the treatment they will regularly check in with you to see if they are giving the right pressure, and they will hold the space in such a way that you will feel comfortable to ask for more or less pressure. Thai Massage can be adapted to people of all shapes, sizes and abilities.
The idea of Thai Massage is to work together, almost like a dance between two bodies - to move energy within the body, and loosen areas of tightness. Often a Thai Masseuse will start at your feet, and slowly move up the body. This allows for you to also be able to bring your awareness to the areas that are being worked on, with confidence of what may be worked on next.
You will experience a mixture of reflexology and acupressure, blood stops, yoga style stretches, compression and pulsing. Traditional Thai Massage practitioners will use their hands, their feet, and even sometimes they will sit on you!
Breath is very important in Thai Massage, just as it is within yoga. Your practitioner will remind you to keep your breathing regular and intentional throughout the session, which is really useful during big stretches – it allows for further release of muscles, aches and tension.
All in all, Thai Massage can be enjoyed by almost anyone, and if you are considering getting a Thai Massage, then you can always enjoy a dialogue with you practitioner before you book in, if you have any questions, or feel unsure about anything.
If you would like to know more about Traditional Thai Massage, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me on 07487784884 and I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
Rhianna @ Solace Therapies.