Recently, therapist Marcia Guy studied Thai massage with Jill Burynski. A massage therapist since 1998, Jill went to Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2003 to receive training in Thai massage and has been passionate about it ever since. Simply described, Thai massage is a combination of acupressure, yoga, and massage to create a deeply holistic experience. More directly, Thai massage combines direct pressure on the muscles with stretching to effectively stimulate the musculo-skeletal system, which includes the joints, bones, nerves, ligaments, and the lymphatic system.
To get the most from your Thai Massage remember these key points:
- Wear “Yoga” clothes, stretchy pants and a comfy T-shirt or tank top.
- If you wear short shorts you may be uncomfortable or cold.
- Make sure your therapist is aware of conditions such as pregnancy, menstruation, sever neck or back injuries, joint replacements, or any surgical interventions. They will make suitable accommodations.
- Current muscle or bone injuries need to be avoided but you can still receive work.
- If you are actively sick with fever massage is not recommended.
- A full stomach is not recommended as the work is very active and you spend significant time face down with pressure exerted on the low back.
Muscle relaxation, increasing flexibility and range of motion
Increases detoxification efforts of the body and boosts the immune system
Increases blood circulation while reducing blood pressure
Improves posture, balance, and corrects body alignment
Dissolves energetic blockages
Helps arthritis and back pain
Helps chronic joint problems and degenerative diseases
Improves athletic performance
Reduces stress and anxiety, promoting restful sleep
There are two styles of Thai Massage (frequently called Thai ‘Yoga’ Massage), Southern Style focuses primarily on acupressure and the energy lines and uses a much firmer pressure. Marcia studied Northern Style; which, while it still incorporates acupressure and compression massage, employs more of the yoga-style stretches. Historically, Thai massage was actually started by a doctor in India. It was performed by Buddhist monks as part of the Vippasana meditation, assisting them in attaining a clear and peaceful mind while on their travels to reduce to suffering in the world (which is how it reached Thailand). After almost being lost as a part of medicine it was embraced whole-heartedly by the people of Thailand who reintroduced it to the world. In modern times, Thai massage is practiced by a large portion of the Thai population, used both professionally and in the home, to maintain well-being and pain-free living.
Like many of the eastern massage styles, Thai massage incorporates the idea of an ‘energetic system’ or channels of energy that flow through and support the body. In Thai massage, these are called the Sen Sip--literally translated “Ten Energy”--because Thai massage focuses on ten energy channels that originate from the navel. Each line is associated with parts of the body, organ systems, disease, pain, or dysfunction. Interestingly, these Sen Sip lines closely follow recently recognized bands of fascia that sweep through the body, encapsulating multiple muscles and touching on organ systems, nerves, and lymph/blood vessels along the way.
Thai massage does differ quite a bit from your typical Swedish or Deep Tissue massage session. First, you stay clothed during the work because you are being stretched and moved during the session and this is the simplest way to make sure there is no fear of exposure. Second, the work is done on a mat on the floor rather than on a table. This is because the therapist is using leverage to manipulate and stretch the body and they occasionally need to be positioned over the recipient.