Thai Massage is a relaxing and rejuvenating experience that is performed on a special mat on the floor. It has been practiced for centuries in the Far East and Thailand. It is a deep tissue massage using no oils. Thai Massage incorporates the use of hands, thumbs, elbows, forearms, knees and feet to manipulate various body zones with acupressure, deep muscle compression, passive yoga, stretching, joint mobilization and reflexology. The massage focuses on the musculoskeletal system (the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues). It is especially beneficial for those who find themselves stiff, sore, or tired from over exertion in work or sports. The recipient does not undress for this massage, but wears loose clothing such as yoga or fitness clothes. A Thai Massage will leave the client feeling totally refreshed and invigorated. The body will benefit from the release of tension, restoration of vitality and the free flow of the body’s energy. It improves circulation, flexibility and muscle tone as well as encouraging lymphatic functions to help detoxify the body.
The massage practitioner leans on the recipient’s body using hands and usually straight forearms locked at the elbow to apply firm rhythmic pressure. The massage generally follows the Sen lines on the body — somewhat analogous to meridians or Channel (Chinese medicine) and Indian nadis. Legs and feet of the giver can be used to fixate the body or limbs of the recipient. In other positions, hands fixate the body, while the feet do the massaging action. A full Thai massage session typically lasts two hours or more, and includes rhythmic pressing and stretching of the entire body; this may include pulling fingers, toes, ears, cracking the knuckles, walking on the recipient’s back, and arching the recipient’s into bhujangasana or (cobra position). There is a standard procedure and rhythm to this massage.
Generally speaking, practitioners of modern Thai massage operate on the theory that the body is permeated with “lom,” or “air,” which is inhaled into the lungs and which subsequently travels throughout the body along 72,000 pathways called “sen,” or “vessels.” Typically, massage therapists manipulate a handful of major sen lines by pressing certain points along the lines. In most models, the sen originate at the navel and spread throughout the body to terminate at the orifices. A significant part of the practice of Thai massage also includes yoga-like stretches which are intended to stimulate the sen and move lom through the body via a pumping action which is connected with the patient’s breathing.
The theory of sen and lom is often translated into English as “meridians” and “energy.” While there are some superficial similarities to Chinese meridian theory, the Thai system is markedly different as the sen are unconnected from the internal organs.