Thai massage is one of the most famous massage techniques today and it is practiced even in the most remote corners of the world. It is unique in the sense that it uses yoga-like postures and stretches to improve flexibility and to relax the muscles, as opposed to applying coventional massage strokes. At its best, Thai massage induces the therapist into a meditative state and the client into deep relaxation and well-being.
Thai massage and Buddhism
There are different theories about the origin of Thai massage, and one of them traces its roots to the Indian Buddhist tradition. According to this – quite widely accepted – perspective, the Father of Thai massage is believed to be the personal doctor of Buddha, Master Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, who laid the foundations for the massage some 2500 years ago. The massage was originally practiced in the temples with the aim of relieving the soreness the Buddhist monks felt after hours of meditation and contemplation.
Having developed in such a spiritual atmosphere has given Buddhist philosophy and meditation a very special role in Thai massage. An example of this is that a Thai massage therapist recites a prayer to Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha every morning, pleading his help and protection during the workday. Apart from the Indian culture, Thai massage has also been influenced by Traditional Chinese Medicine, as can be observed for instance in its concept of energy lines in the human body.
Thai massage in practice
A Thai massage therapist works on the body, mind and spirit of the client, so it can be referred to as a holistic massage tradition. According to Traditional Thai Medicine the human body consists of 72.000 energy lines (Sen lines). However, during the application of a traditional Thai massage, the therapist concentrates on the 10 main energy lines (Itha, Pingkala, Sahutsarungsi, Tavaree, Sumana, Sikinee, Sukumung, Junthapusunk, Ruchum and Galataree).
Specific massage strokes are applied along the energy lines using the fingers, palms, forearms and even knees and feet! At the same time the client adopts yoga-like positions that increase the effectiveness of the massage and induces a deep relaxation. A massage session can range from 45min until 2,5hours. It is worth pointing out that Thai massage is a physically challenging form of massage, especially for the therapist, and it is very important to study and implement the correct postures in order to avoid injuries.
Benefits of Thai massage
Thai massage affects our body and mind in various ways, so here I will list only a few of its benefits:
- Induces relaxation and sleep
- Increases body temperature
- Increases breathing capacity
- Improves general bodily functions
- Emotionally stabilizing
- Increases flexibility and strenghtens the muscles
- Improves blood and lymphatic circulation
- Improves skin texture
This article is only a quick look into this traditional massage technique that requires many hours of study and practice before starting the hands-on application. Nowadays one of the few places you can study Traditional Thai Medicine, apart from the different Thai massage techniques, is the Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand. During our recent trip to Asia, we had the honor to be invited to their fabulous facilities and to take part in their annual “Paying respect to the Teacher” ceremony. But more about this in our next post…!
Wishing you a meaningful day ahead,
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