Thai massage is both a remedial and therapeutic form of bodywork. Although it is growing in popularity it 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. It can 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 combinations of stretching and joint mobilisation. Sequences are unhurried and flowing. Considered deep tissue techniques are also incorporated for specific attention to muscle groups. I always work within the client’s comfort levels; if you are in pain it makes no sense to create more pain. The nervous system appreciates being allowed to relax and let go of the stress of discomfort.
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). Any disruption to the flow of energy will affect physical, mental and emotional processes, leading to pain and disease. Focusing on the main sen channels releases any blockages or stagnation. Pressing and stretching muscles makes them more receptive to energy flow. We can also access acupressure points for deeper focused work.
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 as we age, 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 to enable dynamic movement if appropriate. However, I might decide to work on the couch depending on what is needed. 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.