the art of thai massage
Thai Massage is an ancient form of therapy that integrates elements of massage, yoga, Ayurveda, and martial arts into a bodywork session specifically designed for each individual. The benefits of Thai Massage are vast - it has the capacity to relieve physical tension, relax the mind, and clear any stagnant energy residing in the body, resulting in better health and a more peaceful state of awareness.
The History of Thai mASsage
The exact historical details of when and how Thai Massage was developed remains unclear, though many experts believe that it originated in India over 2,500 years ago around the time of the Buddha. It's founder, Dr. Jivaka Kumar Bhacca, was an Ayurvedic physician to the Buddha himself, and it is believed that as Buddhism spread throughout southeast Asia, so did the massage techniques that Jivaka practiced and developed. These techniques were preserved in Thailand where they were cultivated through an unbroken chain of masters for centuries. Thai Massage, as we know it today, is a comprehensive system of healing that stems from Thai, Indian, and Chinese spheres of healing and medicine. It is a constantly evolving art form that carries with it a rich history of wisdom and insight into the body and its innate capacity to heal.
What to expect during a treatment
Thai Massage integrates assisted yogic stretches with the application of therapeutic massage techniques, comprising mostly of rhythmic compression, acupressure, and energy line work. Each session is designed to meet the needs of the recipient, so no two sessions look exactly the same. Thai Massage can benefit anyone, regardless of one's body-type or level of flexibility, and many people leave a session feeling a deeper sense of relaxation and self-embodiment.
Thai Massage works on a spectrum of levels - physical, emotional, and spiritual. Not only does it feel grounding and is calming for the mind, it also promotes the movement of stagnant energy in the body that may be contributing to chronic or acute pain and suffering.
Within the body is vast wisdom. Wisdom to heal, to replenish, and to restore. Sometimes, whether due to physical/emotional stress or illness, the flow of energy that allows our bodies to remain healthy becomes blocked. Thai Massage assists in the clearing of these energetic blockages, returning the body to a state of balance. This may lead to better health, decreased pain and stress, and an overall feeling of peace and relaxation.
Core pILLARS of thai massage
Mettā: Mettā is a Pali word that translates to "loving-kindness." Whenever the great Thai Massage master Asokananda was asked, "What is Thai Massage?" his response was always the same: "Thai Massage is giving mettā." What makes Thai Massage so powerful and effective is the ability of the practitioner to maintain a state of heart-centered mindfulness and presence as they are giving to the recipient.
Body Mechanics: Central to the art of giving Thai Massage is the practitioner's ability to move around the client with grace and efficiency. The practitioner uses his or her entire body to work and must maintain healthy body mechanics and develop fluid transitions between each stance so that the work feels relaxing and comfortable for the recipient. The practitioner's movements from one stance to the next creates a subtle dance between the giver and the receiver - the more comfortable the practitioner is while giving, the more the recipient is able to enter into a state of peaceful surrender and deep relaxation.
Rocking: Rocking is a specific Thai massage technique in which the practitioner applies rhythmic compression in order to relieve muscle and joint tension, and to clear the energy lines of the body. The rocking can be performed in such a way that it is either stimulating (faster, more intense motions), grounding (slow and deep motions), or supportive (gentle and relaxed motions), depending on client needs and their individual physical/emotional constitutions. This rocking technique affects the nervous system in a very nurturing way - it enables the recipient to surrender to the innate rhythm of their body and to the rhythmic energies that surround them, bringing them into a more balanced and connected state of awareness with themselves and their environment.
"Perfect Fit": Unlike Western massage modalities, which often require thorough study of human anatomy and physiology, the lineage of Thai Massage is rooted in a very simple concept called "perfect fit," which essentially means "you massage the places where your hand or foot fits." It is a kinesthetic concept that is learned in action rather than through cognitive understanding. It is the way the arches of the recipient's foot fit perfectly around the practitioner's knee. It is how the practitioner's toe fits so precisely underneath the recipient's scapula. It is the way the practitioner's palms sink ever-so-beautifully into the shoulders of the recipient as they are in seated position. The concept of "perfect fit" does not require the practitioner to know the name or action of the muscle they are working on (though of course that knowledge is always helpful!), but simply requires them to feel that their hand or foot fits perfectly into the place they are working.
SEN LINES and MARMA POINTS: MAPPING THE BODY
At Samadhi Healing Arts, we offer an integrative form of Thai Massage that places emphasis on its Ayurvedic and yogic roots. In the traditional Thai medicine system, the body is mapped by a series of energetic pathways called sen lines, and it is along these lines that we focus within a Thai Massage session. The traditional medicine system of India, called Ayurveda, maps the body according to energetically charged points, known as marma points, which are very similar in theory to the Chinese acupuncture points. During a Thai Massage treatment, every touch, every hold, is intentionally placed along these lines and points, adding a profound depth to this work. Learn more about Marma Point Therapy.
"In ancient Vedic times, marma points were called bindu - a dot, secret dot, or mystic point. Like a door or pathway, activating a marma point opens into the inner pharmacy of the body. The body is a silent, universal, biochemical laboratory—operating every moment to interpret and transform arising events. Touching a marma point changes the body’s biochemistry and can unfold radical, alchemical change in one’s makeup. Stimulation of these inner pharmacy pathways signals the body to produce exactly what it needs, including hormones and neurochemicals that heal the body, mind and consciousness. This deep dimension of marma therapy has the potential to unfold spiritual healing." - Dr. Vasant Lad