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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Thai Massage- Culture

Thai Massage thumb pressure to the muscles either side of the spine relieve tension and help the flow of energy.
The benefits of Thai Massage are widely appreciated and speaking as someone who has enjoyed literally hundreds, they invariably send me to sleep. However that is because I prefer the softer form of massage that my older body appreciates!

The Thai massage technique needs muscles, manipulates joints and hits pressure points in an almost sublime combination. The Thai massage focuses on the meridians or Channel (Chinese medicine) and Indian nadis and so the process works the physical body but also aims to balance the energy circulating within it.


Thai Massage stretching loosens the joints and lets the flow of energy flow around the body.
Full Body Massage
What I understand by a Thai Massage is a full body massage. The Just head, or back or foot massage that can be enjoyed is a variation of an extended massage and although these half truths do a fantastic job of relieving tension are not as complete as a full body massage. To go all the way you need time for a 2 hour session or more but I must admit that I have never taken more than the hour. However you can see the extra layers and details when you take a foot massage and imagine how much more depth of massage is available.

Thai Massage is done clothed often with loosely fitted Thai robes. Images on this blog  where either the man or women is topless is an oil massage. The oil massage follows the same precepts as the traditional Thai but uses oil for a better tactile connection between giver and receiver.

Thai Massage does a lot of work with the meridians that go through the back of the upper leg hamstring muscles


The changing styles of Thai Massage over the years.

In 20 years of receiving a Thai Massage, predominantly in tourist areas, I have noticed shifts over time. In the early 1990's they started you lying on your back and sought to balance your abdominal organs. As time went on it became less and less and up until today these abdominal organs are rarely touched. This has been a slow move away from medicinal massage and move to a style that promotes relaxation. This is partly because the movement of internal energies involved in the medicinal style could create strong reactions and in some cases pain. When you apply a deep massage to a tired, tense or painful organ the results can be very strong.


It makes sense in that, if you are a travelling tourist with few or no words to communicate in, in Thai, it is virtually impossible for the masseur to probe sensitive areas causing unnecessary pain.

Weight applied to the coccyx helps open out the gait and lets energy flow

Wat Pho V Chiang Mai styles of Massage.
I have noticed that the Wat Pho Bangkok style of massage, which is a later variant in the massage history is more manipulative, needs muscles and focused on relaxation than the more focused Chiang Mai Style which aims to direct energy. The Chiang Mai style is a lot more about the Chinese medicine meridians and balance.

If you go to Wat Po in Bangkok you can get a very inexpensive massage from students of the art, for a nominal price. This may not be your cup of tea but it's an extraordinary scene. You can see 20-50 people all having a massage at one time, with the massage master hovering around to ensure the correct form from his students.

Massage on the beach.
One of the  my great pleasures is having a massage on the beach. I love the sensation of dozing and listening to the sea while the masseur works away and my body becomes more and more relaxed. Be aware that many of the masseurs on the beaches like in  Nai Harn Beach in Phuket, or Chaweng Beach on Koh Samui will not have the refined training that you would get in a spa in a  luxury hotel. Some of the techniques can make a hard man humble as the tune goes,  if not applied correctly or if the masseur is too powerful.

Thumbs pressure along the spine energies the body and help clear any blocked meridians

Thai Massage. Elbows either side of the spine allows deep pressure to be applied to all the muscles of the shoulder and arm

Basic Thai language for massage.
To ensure that  I get a massage from anyone, even from the simplest place, I have a couple of Thai words that ensure that I don't get beaten up by imprecise technique. It's simple really, say Bow, Bow (rhymes with Cow) it means gently please, If you say Jeb, (rhymes with the Feb in February) this means it hurts or oww!. I don't believe in overkill so if you want to learn more you have to find a Thai teacher. See more here on Thai Language and Learning Thai, Thai Smile customs.

Thai Massage on the street, simple and therapeutic
Thai Massage Stretching around the groin area improves the flow of blood to the abdominal organs

Thai Massage Forearm rotation along the spine, gets movement between the vertebra and energy to flow along the back channels.

Spas and Thai Massage

There are some delightful and top spas around Thailand. These are mainly found in hotels and resorts. Thai people are devoted to the service industry and love the process of making others happy. The range and style of techniques available for relaxation while on holiday is quite astounding and below I have listed a couple of 5 star luxury hotels where the spas compare very favourably with some of the best in the world.  Bangkok; and Phuket; , , . Phi Phi Island; Samui;  ,

Receiving treatment from 3 masseurs... a real delight

Thai Spas go to great length to cleanse the senses and let you get a superb treatment


Thai Massage needing the pressure points behind the shoulder blade

4 comments:

  1. Superb process thai massage in Thailand is one of the process which feel so relaxation.

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