Thai Massage, or Nuad Boraen, or Traditional Thai Massage, or Thai Yoga Massage, is a unique and powerful healing art that has been an integral part of traditional Thai medicine for thousands of years.
Thai Yoga Massage is a truly wonderful experience for both giver and receiver as energy blockages are released, boundaries dissolve and deep healing occurs in a space of presence and meditation.
In a unique way, Thai massage blends elements of acupressure, Yoga, reflexology, physiotherapy, meditation, energy healing, chiropractic and Ayurveda.
A little history
Traditional Thai Massage has its roots in the Indian systems of Yoga and Ayurveda. It is believed to have been developed by Jivaka Kumar Baccha, the legendary founder of Thai massage. He was a physician to the Sangha, the order of Buddhist monks and nuns, at the time of the Buddha. The Thais call him Doctor Shivago (click here for the traditional prayer to Doctor Shivago) and to this day honor him as “The Father of Medicine”.
Around 2000 years ago Thai Massage was brought from India to Thailand along with Buddhism. Since then it has been practiced, developed and handed down through the generations. It was never seen as just massage but as a spiritual practice, and until fairly recently mostly practiced in wats, the Thai Buddhist temples.
A little theory
Thai Yoga Massage is a very holistic therapy where the human being is seen and treated as an ever-changing network of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects that all influence each other.
Its primary aim is to restore and balance the body’s energy system which comprises of a multitude of energy lines that run through the body. These energy lines cannot be seen by most people, but it is possible to feel them. They are part of many Eastern healing traditions. In the West the Chinese acupuncture meridians are the most well-known version.
Thai Yoga Massage therapists work on 10 main meridians to ensure optimum health and wellbeing. These meridians are called Sip Sen in Thai, or the ten Sen.
The vital life force that is called Prana in Sanskrit, Chi in Chinese and Ki in Japanese, travels through these meridians, supplying the body with the energy that is necessary for its survival and healthy functioning.
Due to physical or emotional trauma, bad posture, injuries or limiting belief systems this energy can get trapped or blocked, causing physical and emotional dis-ease. Thai Yoga Massage with its amazing multitude of techniques and adjustments can release these blockages and bring the body back to its natural equilibrium where perfect balance and wellbeing are present.
Thai Massage has always been very closely linked with Buddhist meditation practice. Serious masseurs train their own minds through meditation and share the benefits with their patients. Through the practice of Samattha (concentration meditation) the mind gets stilled so it can be more receptive to our essence. Out of a silent mind the quality of Metta, which can be translated as loving kindness, arises quite naturally.
A massage performed in this mindset allows the therapist to be intuitive, accepting and tuned in to the patient’s needs –or quite simply to come from the heart. Both giver and receiver will then enjoy the treatment and leave with a sense of rejuvenation and peace.
The benefits of Thai Yoga Massage are countless. By freeing the flow of vital energy in the body, Thai Massage can improve posture, breathing, flexibility, digestion and circulation. Muscles are stretched, inner organs toned and emotional and nervous tension is reduced. Often a deep sense of peace can be experienced during and after a treatment.
Although the main emphasis in the practice of Thai Yoga Massage is usually on health prevention (as all disease manifests first on the energy level and can be treated there before it becomes physical), it can also be of great therapeutic benefit for a range of specific problems and conditions, such as headaches, back pain, digestive disorders, shoulder and neck tension, joint pain, menstruation problems, insomnia and other stress related conditions.
How does a session look?
Thai Yoga Massage is done on a firm futon or mat on the floor with the patient dressed in light clothes. Typically a session lasts between 1 ½ - 2 hours, but can also be considerably longer if needed.
The practitioner uses his or her thumbs, palms, elbows, knees and feet to apply a combination of acupressure, gentle rocking and twisting, joint and spine mobilizations and assisted yoga stretches. With the therapist using bodyweight instead of strength and a steady and meditative rhythm, Thai Yoga Massage looks and feels like a graceful dance between giver and receiver.
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