Traditional Thai Yoga MassageAnne Clossen, R.TCMP, RAc October 1, 2007
Aging often has more to do with how our bodies feel rather than the passage of time. Decreased flexibility, stiffness, chronic aches and pains, along with mental and physical tension leave an indelible imprint on our bodies, all of which contribute to our feelings of getting old.
Traditional Thai Yoga Massage helps the body to move freely without pain. By balancing the body’s need for movement and stretching, it can assist in reaching ideal conditions of strength and flexibility, help to maintain the body in a more youthful condition, and improve overall physical and mental well-being.
Traditional Thai Yoga Massage, sometimes referred to as “Thai bodywork” or “Nuad Bo’ran” (in Thailand), dates back to the time of Buddha. When Buddhist monks traveled from India to other parts of Asia and Thailand, they brought their medical practices and healing arts with them.
This 2500 year old healing modality has a close relationship to yoga (hence its name), Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Japanese Shiatsu. Yet it is an art in and of itself. Along with herbal therapy, spiritual practices and nutrition, it is a valuable tool in Traditional Thai Medicine.
Traditional Thai massage is completely different from the more familiar forms of massage practised in Europe and North America. It is a fascinating healing art that incorporates gentle stretching, acupressure on sen energy lines, and assisted Yoga postures (asanas) in a beautiful choreography of rhythmic, soothing and flowing movements. As in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Ayurvedic Healing Systems used in India, this modality is based on the belief that energy travels on pathways throughout the body called sen lines, with specific points of energy called nadis.
Thai Massage moves the body into space in a complex “dance” between client and practitioner. Using their knowledge and intuition combined with precise balance and weight, practitioners choreograph the movements. By moving through space with energy, fluidity, balance, rhythm, breath and touch, the massage sends energy freely along the sen pathways, removing tension and facilitating a healthy physical, mental and spiritual balance.
Most Western massage instruction begins with technical procedures and specific anatomical information. While anatomical knowledge is important, the main premise of Thai Massage is that the practitioner works in a concentrated, fully aware and meditative state of mind before applying the techniques. The practitioner must be totally focused on the recipient and become intuitively aware of any discomfort or resistance from the client, be it emotional or physical.
During a session, the practitioner and client are in constant interaction (harmony), with the practitioner continually watching and feeling with total attention on the client’s own personal needs. The quality of the treatment comes from the carefully tuned intuitive skills of the practitioner, and, most importantly, the practitioner’s attitude and approach. It is essential that the Thai massage practitioner work with an “open heart” and compassion, or metta (loving kindness). Thai Massage is the Buddhist practical application of loving kindness.
The client should wear loose clothing for freedom of movement during a session, which can last from one and a half hours to as long as three or four. While lying on a floor mat, the practitioner stretches, massages, palms, presses and twists, covering all parts of the client’s body, from toes to hair.
BENEFITS OF TRADITIONAL THAI YOGA MASSAGE
In Traditional Thai Yoga Massage, the choice of movements and body position options are so numerous that the technique can be used on all body-types, ages and levels of fitness. If one position works on a ballet dancer, a similar movement can be easily adapted for use on the elderly and/or others. Side positions are often used; so this treatment is not contraindicated for pregnant women, and can, in fact, be very beneficial. As in yoga, the gentle stretches create a relaxing response from the nervous system, which has a positive effect upon those who are stressed, depressed, or anxious and may have difficulty relaxing on a traditional massage table.
Traditional Thai Massage is effective in preventing or correcting stiffness, chronic back and other pain, sciatica and mobility problems. It has also shown to be helpful to those who suffer from fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and Multiple Sclerosis. Thai Massage stretches muscles and gently manipulates joints further than an individual would be able to do on their own. It also targets muscles and joints that we rarely think about as being stressed, including the buttocks (gluteus maximus), the piriformis muscle (which can irritate the sciatic nerve), tight psoas (the large muscle that links the lumbar spine to the legs), and the sacroiliac joints.
Thai Massage also places emphasis on deep abdominal movement, releasing abdominal tensions (which most people do not realize they have), stimulating and massaging internal organs. In Thai medical theory, all of the major energy pathways in the body originate in the abdomen, near the navel. Thai medicine operates on the belief that our health and vitality are dependent on the health of the abdominal organs and the unobstructed flow of energy through this area of the body.
Traditional Thai Massage has been reputed for centuries as an effective treatment for a number of health conditions, as well as various aches and pains. However, as in all Western and Eastern medicine and alternative healing modalities, there are no quick fixes. Although Thai Massage can offer much pain relief, it is recommended that clients come for sessions not only to help relieve current pain, but as a preventive measure to ensure a strong, flexible and pain-free body.
CLIENT SUCCESS STORIES
Geoff M. is a 42 year old Engineer who has been coming to me for treatments since 2004, when he was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis. Initially work was intermittent and focused on a traditional massage with essential oils. As his health and understanding of massage therapy improved, it became clear to him that Thai Massage could take his recovery to the next level. Here is how Geoff relates his experience:
“Being fairly active in competitive sports during high school and university, I was keen to see how much ‘youthful energy’ I could recover. While I’m not going to win any races at 42, I can say that since committing to a monthly schedule in October, 2006, I have seen a substantial increase in total body flexibility and an enormous improvement in my hips. It has overtones of Mindfulness Meditation – for 90 minutes or more the only thing you have to do is let go and feel. For me it’s relaxing, but also invigorating, and a work-out all at the same time. After a Thai Massage I feel so alive, connected and peaceful.”
Florence G. came to see me while she was changing jobs. She was extremely stressed and had been suffering from anxiety attacks for a long time.
“I knew Anne’s hands as I had come to reflexology treatments, but her Thai Yoga Massage was truly wonderful and very different from what I had experienced before. During the actual massage, Anne applied the perfect amount of pressure at every step. I felt incredibly relaxed – mentally and physically. The following day, I found I had a tremendous boost of energy and was able to accomplish a great deal of things that usually take me several days to do. Anne’s Thai Yoga Massage is the perfect relief for anyone who is stressed/anxious and/or tired.”
WHY CHOOSE TRADITIONAL THAI YOGA MASSAGE?
Clients who receive a Traditional Thai Massage experience feelings of relaxation, peace of mind, a sense of vitality, happiness and exaltation, along with increased flexibility and openness of mind and body. And fortunately these results last long after the session is over. This is what makes this treatment modality so unique. It helps the client to unwind, relax, let go of pain, worries and stress in a youthful therapeutic dance which allows them to reconnect with themselves.
Anne Clossen is a Registered Chinese medicine practitioner (Acupuncturist and Herbalist) specializing in women's health, fertility, digestion, and healthy aging. Formerly with a private practice in Toronto, Anne has now moved her practice to France. For more information, email: Anne.firstname.lastname@example.org, or find Anne on Facebook at: http://on.fb.me/1gApR8g