Thai massage, also known as Nuad Bo-Rarn in its traditional form, is a type of Oriental bodywork therapy that is based on the treatment of the human body, mind, and spirit. The therapy includes treating the electromagnetic or energetic field which surrounds, infuses and brings the body to life through pressure and/or manipulative massage.
The benefits of Thai massage are numerous, with the most predominant being the maintenance of good health and the ability to treat a wide spectrum of health concerns. Traditional Thai massage is known for its ability to clear the energy pathways.
The following are some of the benefits of traditional Thai massage:
- Increases flexibility and range of movement
- Eliminates muscle pain and muscle spasms
- Improves postural alignment
- Calms the nervous system and promotes a deep sense of relaxation with an increased energy level
- Allows for a significant release of deep, emotional distress
- Stimulates blood circulation and lymph drainage
- Stimulates internal organs
- Relieves fatigue, swollen limbs, painful joints, and headaches
Thai massage looks like a cross between acupressure, yoga, and zen shiatsu and is inspired by Buddhist teachings. The actual massage consists of slow, rhythmic compressions and stretches along the body’s energy lines, also called sen in Thai. Over 70,000 sen are said to exist within the body, and Thai massage concentrates on applying pressure along 10 of the most important sen, using the palms of the hands, thumbs, elbows, and feet. The effort from the practitioner works to free tension within the body. Practitioners also position the body into yoga-like poses and gently rock the body to open the joints and facilitate limbering.
A thorough Thai massage includes the following four basic positions:
- from the front with the client lying supine
- from the side with the client alternately lying on either side
- from the back with the client lying prone
- in a sitting position
One of the most important principles of Thai massage is the continuous flow of sequential movements that prepares the client for the next step in the massage. The practitioner is always aware of his position so that an uninterrupted slow rhythm is maintained. Deep, sustained pressure ensures that the myofascia, or the muscle’s connective tissue, soften and relax in order to release the flow of energy along the sen, and to prepare the client for the large-scale stretches that follow.
There are two styles of practice, Northern (Chiangmai) and Southern (Bangkok). The former is considered gentler. The latter is faster and sometimes more intense. The Southern style is more widely used in Thailand.