The Traditional Wisdom of Thailand
Traditional Thai Bodywork, also called Thai Yoga Therapy, is a therapeutic technique that dates back thousands of years. Its precise origins are unknown, but practitioners traditionally trace their lineage to Jivaka Komalaboat, also known as Shivago, who was a friend and physician to the Buddha and renowned as a healer in Buddhist tradition.
Traditional Thai medicine is a natural, holistic approach to health and well-being, developed over thousands of years, which includes proper nutrition, physical exercise, the use of medicinal herbs and therapeutic massage. Traditional Thai medicine is not only concerned with curing diseases and ailments; its primary goals are maintaining health and well-being, as ancient Thais believed that “the absence of illness is the best blessing.” The medicinal knowledge developed by Thai people through many generations has come to be known as the “ancient wisdom of Thailand.”
Principles and Intention
Diagrams inscribed on the walls at the temple of Wat Po in Bangkok illustrate one of the fundamental principles of traditional Thai medicine: that energy flows through the body along ten major channels, or sen lines. If an obstruction occurs in any of these channels, it is believed that pain or disease results. In this sense, traditional Thai medicine is similar to many other ancient healing systems, in that they believe that illnesses are caused by either an imbalance or obstruction within the individual, or by an imbalance between an individuals and his environment.
Ancient Thais treated a number of ailments by using hands-on manipulation to restore the flow of energy throughout the body. Traditional Thai massage is a deep, full-body treatment, which includes both stretching of the joints and muscles, and compression applied by various means to the Sen sip energy lines, frequently performed in combination.
Styles and Techniques
There are many stylistic variations in Thai massage – so many that it would be difficult to even classify them all. There is some common agreement on a “Northern Style,” which refers primarily to the sequence established at the Northern Medicine Hospital in Chiang Mai.
In addition, the Thai people divide the work into the royal Method and Commoner Style. The royal Method or “Nuad Rachasamnak,” developed specifically for application on the royal family, requires as a sign of respect that the practitioner use only the hands. The traditional way to employ feet, knees, legs, elbows and any other efficient means of applying pressure. This style, practiced by the common people, was called “Nuad Chaleisak,” meaning folk or commoner style massage.
There are thousands of positions and techniques in the complete repertoire of Thai massage, including:
- Pressure along the sen sip or energy lines of the body
- Gentle soothing movement
- Yogic stretching
- Rhythmic rocking
- Range of motion work
- Application of herbal oils and poultices
- Joint compress and decompression
Benefits for Giver and Receiver
Practitioners are taught that the flow in transition between positions and the state of mind of the therapist are as important as the techniques themselves. A Thai massage treatment is a positive energizing, uplifting experience for both the client and the practitioner. A session is a flowing dialog between client and practitioner, akin to a dance or martial arts form. The client is passive and completely supported in all positions by the therapist.
Some people call Traditional Thai Massage “Lazy man’s yoga,” because the therapist is skilled at supporting the client in stretches that are yoga poses. In many cases, the client can benefit from poses that would be difficult to achieve unassisted, because it can take years to develop the requisite strength, balance and flexibility to perform the poses in a solo yoga practice. In addition, the therapist works energy lines while the client is in the pose, creating a synergistic effect in opening and energizing the body.
Thai yoga therapy has many benefits including:
- Stress and pain relief
- Resistance to injury
- Improved Range-of-Motion (ROM)
- Release of lactic acid and other toxins from areas of accumulation
- Toning of internal organs
- More energy and reduced stagnation
- Deep Relaxation
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Thai Yoga Stretch/Thai Massage Prices: 1 hour $60 1/2 hour $40
Discounts for clients also using personal training or massage services.