An Introduction to Thai Yoga Massage

Know in its place of origin as neat phaen boran (traditional style massage) or nut thai (Thai massage), this physical and energetic practice is a combination of techniques and knowledge from India, China and indigenous Thai traditions.

A science and art, a combination of acupressure and yoga-like stretching, Thai massage is a medical discipline and part of a four-year traditional medical degree program, where you work the energy, instead of being just bodywork.

Practiced for thousands of years in the Thai region, this holistic treatment is now very popular all over the world.

Its principles, it is predominantly agreed, relate to the yogic principles originated in India, the emphasis of the practice is "on compassion, the practitioner's attention to breath and body sensations, and the celebration of the role of Jivaka Komarabhacca as the forefather of the art form"(1).

Dr. C. Pierce Salguera and David Roylance, in their book Encyclopaedia of Thai Massage ((1), tell us that "from a close examination of the modern practice of Thai Massage, we can determine that it combines at least five important layers of historical influence" these being Buddhism, Ayurveda, Yoga, Chinese and other external cultural influences, and Indigenous Thai medicine.

This body work therapy has a calming effect on the brain due pressing and releasing on the soft tissue - which is covered with nerve endings, sending all those impulses to the brain and back to the muscles and organs promoting relaxation and homeostasis.

The Thai massage therapist is guided not by anatomical structures or physiological principles but by following an intricate network of 72,000 sen (pathways or lines)... (1)

This stimulates lom, or the body's energy to relax or energise and affects the patient's mind and body promoting healing.

Kira Balaskas - my beloved teacher - in her book Thai Yoga Massage (2), further explains that

Thai Yoga Massage is based on a belief in a life force that circulates around special pathways in the body. Indian philosophy calls this Prana. (2)

Scientifica research has demonstrated its benefits. Thai [Yoga] Massage "can prevent bones degeneration, decease stress, treat back pain, and contribute to psychological well-being" (1) Also has the "ability to improve circulation, flexibility, and muscle tone".... and is "specially advocated for those who find themselves stiff, sore, and tired from overexertion in work or sports, or from arthritis or other disorders affecting mobility". (1)

Kira tells us that, apart from energy balance, releasing from feeling of tiredness and a lasting well-being, "other benefits include greater flexibility in the joints, enhanced blood circulation, better alignment of the body, improved posture and additional stimulation of the internal organs, which helps them to function optimally".

Thai Yoga Massage also gives the receiver a feeling of relaxation and tranquility that is invaluable for today's stressful living.

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