April 26, 2018
Thai massage, also called Nuad Boran, is an ancient, energy-based healing system that integrates aspects of acupressure with assisted yoga postures. Traditionally, Thai massage uses no oils or lotions and is performed on a mat on the floor with both the client and practitioner wearing loose-fitting clothes. Thai massage sessions are comprised of a series of compression strokes, stretches, rocking, and pulling techniques intended to clear energetic blockages and relieve tension in the body. This is different from many western massage techniques where strokes rely on oil or lotion to glide along the surface of the skin. Thai massage practitioners utilize their whole bodies in a session, maintaining constant contact throughout while applying rhythmic pressure with thumbs, palms, forearms, elbows, knees, and feet. Practitioners rely heavily on gravity and leverage to execute deep assisted stretches and postures derivative of the yoga traditions in nearby India. Combined, these techniques release muscular tension, alleviate pain, and open the joints of the body to improve balance and range of motion. Receiving Thai massage creates a deep sense of relaxation and restoration.
Thai massage has its roots in Buddhism and began its evolution about 2,500 years ago. Even today, many prominent Thai schools are located in “Wats” or temples such as Wat Pho in Bangkok. Trough this connection, traditional Thai massage draws on many influences in the Buddhist world from Ayurveda to Traditional Chinese Medicine. It focuses on activating and circulating vital energy in the body through pathways known as “Sen” lines, which are similar to meridians in acupuncture. These pathways are targeted, manipulated, and stimulated to break up blockages and restore the flow of energy to a harmonious and natural balance.
A TRUE ARTFORM
Thai massage is typically recognized by its striking and often beautiful assisted yoga postures. Through these partner poses, the body is stretched beyond what is normally attainable through an individual yoga practice alone.
For many practitioners, performing Thai massage is akin to a spiritual experience as it incorporates meditative mindfulness and the concept of “mettā” or focused compassion. This results in a full-body Thai massage session creating a powerful and positive healing experience for recipients and practitioners alike.
Thai massage began gaining popularity in the west during the 1990’s and is now a fairly common in spas throughout North America. Recently, in San Francisco, several of the top-rated spas in the city offered a focus on traditional Thai massage, putting the technique on par with more familiar massage modalities such as Swedish massage and deep tissue.
If you’re curious and want to try a Thai massage in San Francisco, check out one of the great locations run by graduates of the San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork; Iyara on Geary Boulevard or the beautiful Suchada on King Street downtown. If you’d like to learn some Thai massage for yourself, check out our workshops: For the layperson there is our “Thai Massage for Couples” class and for the professional massage therapist there is our “Traditional Thai Massage: Level 1”.
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