Thai Massage: An Ancient Form of Healing

by Winnie Cain, LMT

Is Thai Massage an ancient form of healing, as claimed by those using this modality over the past 2,500+ years?  I believe it is.  When you understand Thai Massage, you will see why it is called an ancient form of healing.

Thai Massage is based on two theories:

  1. The Four Elements of Life theory: It is the main principle in Thai traditional medicine of which Thai massage is a branch. The body is composed of four elements: Earth, Water, Air and Fire.
  2. Sen Sib (energy line) Theory:  It is the core of Thai massage. Acupressure is applied to the Sen Sib.

Four Elements of Life avatarsThe Four Elements of Life

  • Thai massage affects the Earth element at the muscle, bone and ligaments.
  • Thai massage stimulates the Water element flow through the body. It helps to maintain healthy function of the organs.
  • Thai massage helps direct the Air element to flow in the right direction for the body. The Air element provides all the energy for all activities and functions.
  • Thai massage improves circulation and helps maintain the right temperature for the body. The Fire element consists of the heat and energy of life.

Sen Sib

Thai massage helps to remove blockages that may prevent energy flow in the Sen Sib and bring balance to body, mind and spirit.

In Thai massage, the therapist works from the bottom of the feet to the top of the head, ending at the feet.  The therapist releases the fascia by doing acupressure and stretching.

 

Demo of a Thai Massage sessionThe theory of Thai massage is that a person’s health and well-being relies on the balance of the Four Elements and the life energy channels (Sen Sib).  It is believed that the Sen Sib need regular maintenance to avoid blockages or stagnation.

In Thai massage, the therapist must be comfortable and confident stretching the client. The therapist accomplishes this by using proper body mechanics. It should appear to the client that it is effortless while the therapist is lifting and stretching them. It will also feel like a meditation to both the therapist and client, from beginning to end while using the same rhythm throughout the massage, transitioning from one move to the next, like a dance.

It is an easy modality to do anywhere because the client is fully clothed, which gives on-site massage a new meaning. Thai massage can be performed on a mat or a massage table; it is a great way for the client to become energized while at the same time relaxed.


Thai Yoga Massage, Beyond the Rub

I discovered the amazing modality of Thai Yoga massage here in our great city of Las Vegas.  I have been practicing as a massage therapist since 2001.  Before I began to practice Thai Yoga massage, I was primarily doing deep tissue bodywork, and because of the effort and energy I was exerting, I began to feel repetitive strain in my hands and body.

This was one reason I began to practice yoga on a regular basis.  The breath, movement and energy I received from the yoga really helped my stamina and strength so I could continue doing the massage I love.  In addition to the physical aspects, I also found peace and balance in my life and with myself; I wanted to share this gift with others and guide them to their place of inner peace through my massage.

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That is when Thai Yoga massage found me.
Thai Yoga massage is performed on a floor mat, while the receiver is fully clothed, and the massage usually will last one or more hours.  I work with the receiver through different positions: seated, face-up, face-down, and side-lying. Each change flows into the next:

  • Combining movement – compression massage moves blood through the body- and my body is always moving along with the receivers’ for a sense of safety, oneness and stabilization,
  • Stretching – passive, relaxing stretches that get deep into the limbs, hips, spine, organs, and the whole body and,
  • Breath – as the massage and stretches combined together can be very deep and intense (in a good way!)  BREATH is the pathway to the release of tension and emotions.

This combination of movement, stretching and breath is what makes Thai Yoga Massage so unique and powerful!

Most consider that Thai Yoga massage came from an area in what is now known as India about 2,500 years ago. It is considered to have originated from the Hindu culture. Thai Yoga massage has its basis in Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda is translated as the study of how to make your life long and happy and in balance with itself and nature.

Thai Yoga massage then traveled to Thailand with the movement of Buddhism to Aytthaya, the old capitol of Thailand, where it was traditionally practiced by Buddhist monks in their Wats, or temples, and the emphasis of this healing modality incorporated METTA, the act of loving-kindness.

 

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The foundation of Thai Yoga massage relies on the energy pathways of the body called Sip Sen, or Sen Lines. These are the lines I focus on while giving a massage. I release any blockages that I may feel along these lines through holding the pressure,  by rocking the body or limb, and by guiding the receiver’s breath. This can create a wonderful release of physical pain, emotional stress, and negative postural patterns for the receiver.

Emotional changes, physical changes, or both can happen during a Thai massage session. This sacred space of oneness and safety is where one can truly let go of any blocks.

Thai Massage is just as enjoyable to give as it is to receive. I love seeing the transformation in people after just one session! The biggest thing I learned from Thai Yoga massage is that I didn’t have to travel outside of myself or to another country to heal others with my hands. The sacred temple is inside me wherever I go.

 

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Jamie Schab, LMT is the owner of LV Healer Massage Therapy. She has training in Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga, and is a graduate from The Nevada School of Massage Therapy. For more information visit www.lvhealer.com