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The Buddha’s Therapy: Thai Massage
Written by Neata Auttapong   

Thai MassageMaybe you have heard of it or even had the opportunity to try it while on holiday. Maybe you’ve always wondered about it, but felt unsure about whether it was right for you...

“It” is Thai massage, and it is a truly unique experience.

Traditional Thai massage is an ancient practice that has been gaining in popularity in the western world over the past decade. Known in Thailand as “Nuad Boran” or “the ancient-manner massage,” this age-old technique involves a combination of stretching and deep tissue massage, with plenty of emphasis on pressure points. Legend has it that the technique was developed by the Buddha’s personal physician over 2,500 years ago!

As the western world adopts this highly effective form of massage, we see it being renamed as “Thai yoga massage” or “lazy man’s yoga” due to the striking resemblance between traditional Thai massage and many standard yoga positions. The therapist uses his or her body to move you into a series of deep stretches and poses. What ensues is a practiced rhythm of stretching and pressing over the entire body, which in the most traditional methods includes your fingers, toes, knuckles, and ears; the “cobra” stretch, in which your torso is stretched up and back from your body; and sometimes even walking on your back!

The practice requires great accuracy and precision, and a Thai massage therapist is highly trained in the art and principles of the technique. You will be given loose cotton pyjamas to wear as you lie on a comfortable table or mat. Traditionally, many people occupy the same room for Thai massage. (In Thailand’s tourist areas, you can easily find a Thai massage right on the beach!) There are no oils involved in Thai massage – which is why you can wear loose clothing while it is done.

Thai Massage has an incredible balancing effect that differentiates it from other styles of massage. Combining stretching with pressure point work along the energy channels of the body, freed up pathways allow “room for movement” of stresses both physical and psychological. Mental awareness, clarity, pain management, increased circulation of blood and lymph as well as changes in flexibility are commonly experienced after a Thai massage. You will feel energized, refreshed, and relaxed yet alert following your massage experience; centered in both mind and body.

The technique is based on the principles of “lom” (air) and “sen” (vessels), with the belief that once air has entered the body via the lungs, it must travel through the body along 72,000 “sen” pathways or vessels. A Thai massage therapist will manipulate the major sen lines by targeting specific pressure points, most of which reach from the navel to the body’s orifices. The Thai use of “sen” and “lom” is often confused with Chinese medicine’s “meridians” and energy, when in fact the two systems are dissimilar.

A standard Thai massage is typically between one and two hours long, though western spas offer a number of variations (anti-stress; athlete’s; deep tissue) as well as Thai fusion options.

Like many professions, not all practitioners and establishments have the same standards of practice. Be sure to find a reputable therapist, spa or clinic before you decide to try Thai massage for yourself. You can find more information about Thai massage at www.thaispa.ca.

Neata Auttapong -

Neata Auttapong grew up in Thailand, where Thai healing and herbal traditions were part of everyday life. Neata learned Thai massage first in her own family and then from Kam, the oldest healer in Chaing Rai, Thailand. Accepted as a student at 12 years of age because of her exceptional talents, she subsequently trained with another master healer in Bangkok, and was granted a certificate from the prestigious Wat Po Temple in Bangkok in 1999. She also received Thai Yoga training, known as Ruesri Dat Ton, through the Thailand Ministry of Health. Neata dedicates the Sabai Thai Spa to the natural traditions of Thailand, using natural herbs, massage and traditional exercise to promote health. Phone 604-985-8896 or visit www.thaispa.ca for more.

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