Thai massage is both a remedial and therapeutic massage. This form of bodywork is growing in popularity but is still misunderstood. I hear stories of being forced into unnatural positions or practitioners walking up and down the back. Asian bodies are amazing for their ability to bend and relax into remarkable shapes. Generally, Western bodies need a little more care. A good Thai massage can encourage flexibility, relaxation and balance and for some the experience is likened to yoga practice. It can support yoga practice and educate the receiver about their body, creating a new awareness of what is possible, what is useful and what is less useful. You can walk onto the futon feeling scattered and out of balance and step off the futon feeling grounded, taller and centred.
The technique: Thai bodywork uses sequences of soft tissue pressing and stretching and joint mobilisation. Sequences are unhurried and flowing. Considered deep tissue techniques are also incorporated for specific attention to muscle groups. This does not have to be painful. In fact, I have strong views about it not being painful. If your body is uncomfortable, why would pain be helpful? The body responds to being nurtured.
When pregnant: Techniques are easily adapted to provide a relaxing and effective massage. Working on the futon provides a safe and grounded space to release tension from tired muscles, encourage a sense of calm and improve circulation. The combination of acupressure and gentle stretches encourages openness in the body and mind. We also work with the breath which has a powerful effect on our emotional and physical wellbeing and is good preparation for labour.
The body becomes more flexible in pregnancy due to changes in hormones. If you attend a movement or exercise class, you may find you are able to access new shapes and positions. However, it is a common experience that the main belly of the muscle does not release and remains tense. As you lie on your side on the futon, I will use different techniques to release the whole muscle and work safely to encourage mobility. This is a nurturing space for you and your baby; it is a time to relax and tune in to your body and sense of self and be with your child. As pregnancy progresses, finding comfortable positions to sleep can be challenging, a good massage should facilitate rest at night. The more spaces we find in pregnancy for true relaxation the more easily we access this space during labour and parenthood.
Once you have had your baby Thai massage can support you in recovery from pregnancy and the new demands of having a young baby. The most common reason for seeking massage is shoulder aches due to feeding positions, whether that is the breast or the bottle. If childcare is difficult, bring your newborn with you. It may be that we focus on the feet and I will combine Thai massage with reflexology. We can see what happens at the appointment. Sometimes babies love the space … sometimes we have to rearrange!
The energetic philosophy: Thai massage is centred on the premise that flow and balance of energy or lom is necessary for health and healing. Lom flows through sen (as chi flows through meridians or prana flows through nadis – it’s all the same thing, just different names). Any disruption to the flow of energy will affect physical, mental and emotional processes, leading to pain and disease. Using palming and thumbing techniques on the main sen channels releases any blockages or stagnation, for example, leg pain and cramps are considerably eased through pressing and stretching muscles making them more receptive to energy flow. We can also access acupressure points for deeper focused work. Some acupressure points are useful for birth preparation. What we choose to work with will depend on the stage of your pregnancy.
The physical theory: When muscles are tense they contract, whether you are mobile or static. This can occur through repetitive movements, lack of use or emotional tension. The result of this is progressively restricted movement and the onset of stiffness, aches and pains. We often believe this is inevitable, but it may be avoidable with the proper care and attention. Often back pain is caused by muscular tension rather than skeletal irregularities; the shortened muscles pull on the vertebrae and tension runs through the spinal cord, creating back pain, neck pain and headaches. Thai bodywork releases muscle tension and balances energy levels, leading to flexibility and strength in the muscles which allows freer movement of joints. Changes may be subtle but are often long lasting.
The practice: I work on a futon which offers a space to work with more dynamic movements. Before we start, we will discuss the focus of your massage and I will ask you about your story to allow for a holistic and individualised approach. I work through clothes so please wear something comfortable and light, natural fibres are best.
I always encourage clients to come for a course of massage. A single appointment is lovely but a course is amazing! I offer a reduced price for the fourth appointment of your first course of Thai Massage:
One hour £45; 90 minutes £65; Two hours £85
Four appointments to be used over 8 weeks: 3 appointments @ £45; 4th appointment @ £35
Concessions available on an individual basis – please contact me to discuss
The Therapist: I began my yoga journey with my first pregnancy in 1997. Since then I have trained in reflexology, Thai massage, yoga (class teaching and individual lessons) and reiki. I teach Thai Massage for Bristol College of Massage and Bodywork and am part of their teaching team for Anatomy, Physiology & Pathology.
Availability: I am available at Yanley Court, Long Ashton, from Monday to Friday. See my website for more details http://www.yvonnecattermole.co.uk or call 07954 416194 for a conversation