Thai massage’s origins can be traced back to Buddhism’s spread from Northern India into Southeast Asia, and similar to yoga, is considered a spiritual practice. Practitioners will often start classes by participating in the wat khru ceremony.
Thai massage differs from Western styles in that clients remain fully clothed during a session and the therapist can move freely around a mat instead of being constrained to one place by a massage table. Thai therapists use hands, elbows, forearms and knees while working with energy lines known as sen.
Origin and History
Thai massage has its origins in ancient Indian and Buddhist traditions. As part of a healing arts movement that spread Buddhism across Northern India to South East Asia, massage was not considered luxury but an integral component of holistic lifestyle practices – though until recently only practiced within temples or within context of Buddhism religion.
Legend has it that Thai massage was developed by a physician from northern India who was close to Buddha and personally treated him, providing herbal medicines and treatments as well as developing basic principles based on his knowledge of anatomy and medicine.
Traditional Thai massage relies on the concept of invisible energy lines known as sen, which run throughout the body like meridians in Chinese medicine or nadis in Indian yoga. If these sen become blocked, pain and disease are believed to result, while when stimulated properly they restore balance to both body and mind.
Beginning its existence, massage was passed down through generations through both oral and written transmission until 1767, when Burmese invaders devastated Ayuthaya’s capital city of Ayuthaya and most written records were lost or destroyed by floodwaters from flooding; those which survived are currently held at Sala Moh Nuat (massage pavilion) located inside Wat Po, Bangkok.
King Rama III of Thailand ordered that an initial text outlining the principles of Thai massage be carved in stone and placed inside Wat Pho temple, in 1832. These inscriptions show various massage techniques along with some back therapy points as well as depictions of 10 major sen lines used as therapeutic points during Thai massage sessions.
Thai massage is a therapeutic exercise in which practitioners use their bodies and limbs to manipulate client muscles into various poses. Thai massage sessions typically occur on a mat or mattress with both parties remaining fully clothed for added versatility compared to a standard massage table – sessions can last anywhere between one and two hours!
Massage therapy is founded on the premise that there are energy pathways running throughout the body known as Sen lines, and tight muscles can block these vital pathways, leading to pain and illness in the body. Practitioners utilize various techniques to open or restrict Sen lines as necessary in order to restore balance to these vital channels.
Thai massage therapy is a physical practice and, unlike Western massage therapy, does not rely on oils as a lubricant. Instead, masseurs use their hands, thumbs, elbows, forearms, and feet to alleviate tension in muscles. Sessions tend to be quite vigorous with lots of stretching involved.
Thai massage offers many physical and psychological health benefits for its recipients. Many who receive Thai massage report feeling revitalized after receiving it; practitioners believe this to be because of the spiritual sense of well being it brings.
Thai massage practitioners believe that masseurs must work in an attitude of worship and devotion, starting their sessions with a Puja (meditative prayer) before employing mindfulness, awareness and concentration during massage sessions. By working in this state of awareness the masseur can develop an intuition for sensing energy flow through his or her sen as well as for knowing when something needs attention on either end of his body.
Thai massage has been around since antiquity and is considered the oldest natural therapy known. With roots in both spirituality and traditional medicine, this holistic healing modality can treat numerous maladies including stress relief, relieving tension from muscle tightness, improving flexibility, energy balance and myofascial release (connective tissue that forms around muscles resulting in restricted movement).
Thai massage is an holistic healing art with physical, psychological, and spiritual effects. It enhances flexibility, relieves pain, decreases tension and anxiety levels, revitalizes energy in the body, promotes relaxation and increases range of motion – as well as increasing range of motion while balancing out nervous systems.
Western massage typically entails the kneading of muscles; traditional Thai massage involves assisted stretching and exercises akin to applied yoga. Practitioners manipulate energy pathways known as “sen” with hands, thumbs, forearms, elbows or even feet – not only helping clients move into more flexible positions more easily but stimulating organs as well as eliminating toxins from the body through these movements.
Thai massage can be traced back to Shivago Komarpaj, an Ayurvedic physician who was an intimate friend and doctor to Buddha. This practice incorporates aspects from both Ayurveda and Chinese medicine and draws heavily upon yoga philosophy for inspiration. Thailand’s strategic location between India and China allowed its culture to draw heavily upon both sides.
Massage therapy’s benefits can include relieving headaches, decreasing lower back and joint pain, improving mobility and flexibility and relieving anxiety. Massage can also improve breathing and circulation as well as increase blood and oxygen circulation to the brain and muscles – but before undertaking any form of massage therapy consultation should always be sought from a licensed doctor first.
Researchers conducted an experiment involving thirty-four soccer players and discovered that those who received Thai massage three times within 10 days experienced increased flexibility due to its ability to increase blood circulation to muscles, leading to more flexible bodies.
Many massage therapists find that adding Thai techniques to their practice helps broaden their client base. Raleigh massage therapist Assunta Rosler, 58, took her first intensive on-the-mat Thai class two years ago, adapting well despite having arthritis in both knees. Since then she has integrated Thai techniques into her table massage practice; clients appreciate its revitalizing effects on both mind and body.
Thai massage, when performed correctly, can increase blood flow to joints and muscles, increase flexibility and balance energy within the body. It’s an excellent way to relieve stress and tension while providing chronic relief like neck or back pain relief as well as rehabilitation from injuries and illnesses like sports injuries or stroke.
To properly administer Thai massage, the practitioner must possess an in-depth knowledge of various bodywork techniques and anatomy/pathology. They must have a good grasp on how the body moves and possess an intuitive sense that knows when not to touch certain areas, such as broken bones, open wounds, sprains and bruises. Furthermore, it may cause some discomfort for some individuals with extreme heat sensitivity or dislocated shoulder joints.
Thai massage may not be advised for pregnant women because there is a small risk that pressure applied to specific acupressure points could prompt labor in its final stages, though this risk should only ever pose minor concern; most pregnancies go smoothly during Thai massage treatments.
Komparaj’s story is truly captivating; he appears to have been an early proponent of Thai massage and had written medical texts regarding it, though many were lost with the 1767 Burmese invasion of Ayuthaya. Luckily, some survived to be later inscribed onto stone tablets which can still be found today at Sala Moh Nuat (massage pavilion) of Wat Po in Bangkok.
Thai massage has become an internationally practiced form of relaxation that offers many health benefits. The technique incorporates stretching, breathing and deep tissue massage with compression on a mat or massage table – often combined with acupressure or herbal remedies for maximum effect.