A Closer Look into Thai Massage

For a majority of Americans, a massage like Thai massage is simply a technique for inducing relaxation and stress relief. However, to the nearly 290,000 Thai massage practitioners and students in the U.S., it is much more.

The bodywork technique commonly known as Thai massage is an important component of an entire traditional medical system. Traditional Thai Medicine is a 2,500-year-old system of natural healing developed in the ancient kingdom of Siam, now modern Thailand. Traditional Thai medicine is composed of four major branches: herbal medicine, food cures and nutrition, spiritual practices and the manual therapies of Thai massage, or Nuad Bo'Rarn.

The practice of Thai massage and other healing work is understood to be the Buddhist practical application of Metta or "loving kindness. Thai massage demonstrates the Four Divine States of Mind as taught in Buddhism: Loving-Kindness, Compassion, Vicarious Joy, and Mental Equanimity. In Thai Therevada Buddhist philosophy, significant emphasis is placed on the practical application of spiritual philosophy; that higher ideals should be brought into everyday life activities and decisions.

Traditional Thai massage is based on an energetic knowledge of the human body/mind. Energy is thought to travel on pathways throughout the body called Sen or chakras, with specific points of energy on these pathways also called nadis. Thai massage moves energy freely along these pathways, thereby facilitating a healthy spiritual, mental and physical balance.

Thai massage is an interactive therapy involving the gentle stretching of muscles with kneading acupressure from a practitioner's palms, thumbs and feet. It is usually done with the recipient wearing loose fitting clothing while they lay on a soft mat on the floor. No oils or lotions are used during the 90-minute session. In Thailand, it is not uncommon for sessions to last up to three hours!
In addition to stretching, Thai massage also emphasizes deep abdominal procedures. In Thai medical theory, all the major energy pathways of the body have their origins in the abdomen near the navel. It is believed that the health and vitality of the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth are dependent on the health of the abdominal organs and the unobstructed flow of bio-energy through and away from the abdomen. Whereas most Western massage instruction begins with technical procedures and specific anatomical information, Thai massage instruction begins with the imperative that the practitioner work in a concentrated and meditative state of mind, fully present in each moment. It is believed this level of consciousness can then be imparted to the recipient through the practitioner's touch.

The techniques of Thai massage are applied very, very slowly. It is impossible to work too slowly as long as there is some movement. The slowness of the practice houses the tendency toward self-awareness. Because many of the techniques require heightened flexibility of both the practitioner and recipient, the slowness significantly diminishes the chance for bodily harm. With the practitioner working in such a way, they immediately become intuitively aware of resistance and any discomfort for the client and are able to discontinue or change the modality before injury occurs.

Thai massage has been sought after for centuries as an important healing tool in the treatment of a wide variety of maladies such as musculoskeletal problems, internal medical problems, neurological complaints and emotional distress. Its benefits include structural alignment, increased flexibility, and decreased muscular and joint tension. Thai massage in Los Angeles, California has become increasingly popular.

Even for a beginner, Thai massage can provide a good opportunity to achieve a state of deep mental and emotional balancing, amazing stress relief, and moments of inner peace.