THAI MASSAGE is sometimes called the lazy man’s yoga because of the yoga-like poses which the massage therapist quite literally guides your body into. It’s a form of body work based on the principles of yoga and Ayurvedic medicine and is sometimes called Thai yoga massage in the West.
The stretching performed during a Thai yoga session is “dance-like”, yet requires you to expend no energy of your own. You simply lie on the mat while the practitioner gently pulls, folds, and presses your body using his or her own body weight, legs, and arms to enhance the stretch. Because of this close proximity to your massage therapist, you may at first feel a little uncomfortable by the intimacy of it. But you’ll soon find how wonderful it is as you relax into a stretch in a more effective manner. Since you aren’t engaging your muscles the way you might during yoga all you need to do is close your eyes and breathe.
There should be no pain as the practitioner feels when your body can’t go further. We find it’s almost trance inducing if you have a good practitioner, or as we refer to it a good “dance partner”.
So why bother? What are the benefits? To name a few and starting with the most obvious how about increased range of motion and flexibility? The Chinese often say “To be stiff is to be dead”. Thai massage also reduces stress, pain and swelling. I’m not an expert but I’ve seen it work for a few friends that were chronically suffering from one or all of those. Increased blood and lymphatic circulation are also benefits. All that to say: You’ll feel fantastic.
Thai yoga massage is performed one-on-one and can last anywhere from 60 minutes to two and a half hours. The practitioner will apply acupressure by using their thumb or palm on ten major energy lines (sen lines) on the body, and will then place or position you in a variety of stretches. You’ll end up sitting, on your side, or ass up in the air (ever so elegantly) more than once. You’ll be tempted to hold in your fart – and we promise you’ll likely need to – just let it out or it will ruin the entire experience for you. A little moment of embarrassment is well worth the pay off.
Unlike traditional massage, Thai yoga massage requires you to be fully clothed, wearing loose and comfortable clothing, while lying on a thin mat on the floor. Yoga clothing is ideal.
Now the hard part – Finding a Thai master!
Currently, no formal certification is needed to become a Thai yoga massage therapist, so it is buyer beware.
It’s “new” to the Western hemisphere and not main stream. Only a few schools can be found outside of Thailand where most practitioners of Thai yoga massage still need to go to learn from the masters – some spend years perfecting the craft.
Word of mouth is still the way to go unfortunately, but once you have found one, ask the therapist what sort of training they have had and how long they have been practicing. Ideally, the practitioner should have completed at least an 80-hour program and have 15 to 20 massages under their belt. If you’re into alternative medicine your acupuncturist or naturopath may be able to assist in your search.
This therapeutic method offers the best stretch we have ever experienced. Try it once and you’ll be hooked and that’s a promise. We love it so much we are very seriously tempted to go to Thailand and learn the art of Thai Massage from a master so that we can “dance” together.