Thai massage is rapidly becoming one of the favorite options for individuals looking for a good, relaxing massage. While still not as popular in the United States as it is in Europe, this style of massage is certainly becoming more prevalent - and well-paying - for qualified practitioners.
History of Thai Massage
Thai massage is rapidly becoming one of the favorite options for individuals looking for a good, relaxing massage. While still not as popular in the United States as it is in Europe, this style of massage is certainly becoming more prevalent - and well-paying - for qualified practitioner
Despite the name, Thai massage originated in India. It is an ancient practice that monks learned in India and then brought back to their homeland. Shivago Komarpaj is commonly thought to have been the originator of this massage style in Thailand, bringing it back from his travels over 2,500 years ago.
For generations, Buddhist monks taught other men (as women were forbidden to enter the temples where monks resided) the art of massage, and many Buddhist temples combined spirituality with these treatments.
Techniques of Thai Massage
Most massage types require the person receiving it to simply lie there and receive the treatment for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Thai massage is more intensive and participatory for the client. The traditional style takes up to two hours and usually involves the recipient being maneuvered into yoga poses to aid the function of the actual techniques. Putting the body in certain positions makes it easier for the masseuse to manipulate the muscles properly, resulting in a far more thorough treatment.
The movements in this type of massage are fluid and smooth. Through stretching and pressure, the muscles are worked and acupressure points stimulated. It is often referred to as "Thai bodywork," as it has such a beneficial effect on the body.
The process of Thai massage begins with by pressing the muscles, opening the sen energy lines and softening the muscles in preparation for the stretches. All this is done while the recipient of the massage is completely clothed, which is yet another difference from regular massage practices, wherein oil is used on the bare skin.
Once the muscles have been softened sufficiently, starting at the head and extending down to the toes, the process of stretching begins. The masseuse uses full body contact to mold, stretch, and maneuver the recipient's body into the chosen yoga poses, stretching the now soft muscles and elongating them.
Because of the number of different ways the body can move and muscles be manipulated, there are different specialties in the area of Thai massage. Some aim to prepare the body for sports, while others are designed to heal or repair damage done. Also, there is a more modern type of Thai massage that came about from the teaching of tourists the techniques only, leaving out the information on energy flow and spirituality.
Benefits of Thai Massage
There are quite a few benefits unique to Thai massage procedures. Whereas regular massages simply knead the muscles to relax them, the Thai techniques work to return them to their original length. This is believed to be effective because muscle pain may be caused by muscles that tighten due to tension or repetitive motions. For example, if an individual only ever moved his or her legs in 45 degree angles, the muscles would shorten over time and even cause considerable pain. Thai massage is designed to help.
After a good Thai massage session, the entire body is relaxed and the muscles are stretched out, making movement easier. Often, joint pain is diminished or even eliminated completely. With repeated treatments, the body becomes supple and flexible, returning to what should be a natural state. Other, more unexpected benefits include relief from constipation and other bowel problems, headaches, aches and pains, and joint stiffness. This is usually attributed to the newly released flow of energy caused by the pressing of the muscles.
Learning Thai Massage
It's not a good idea to try Thai techniques without proper training in this specific type of massage. The pressure and positions used mean that the possibility for injury with untrained masseuses is quite high. The danger is not just to the recipient; because this is a physically strenuous activity for both parties, incorrectly performing the moves can cause back problems in the practitioner, as well.
Certified courses can be found in most Western countries. You can also study in Thailand, but the courses are usually lacking in many areas, and it can be difficult to find one that is held in English. Most traditional massage schools in the United States don't yet offer Thai techniques as an option, so you will likely need to enroll in a facility that specializes in alternative therapies or even Thai massage in particular.
The demand for this unique brand of bodywork is growing rapidly as more and more people discover the benefits of Thai massage. While it doesn't require any equipment apart from a mat, there is special training involved to master the techniques safely.
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