The Body Lab Wellness Center - Binghamton, NY

Massage Therapy: Thai Massage

Traditional Ancient Thai Massage is a unique healing modality of bodywork that intertwines acupressure, passive yoga stretching, energy meridian work, and reflexology. The origins of Thai massage date back about 2500 years to the founder of the practice, known as "Father Doctor",  "Jivaka" Komarabhecca or "Shi-va-ga Ko-ma-r'-apot-jo, personal doctor of the historical Buddha.

Ancient Medical texts were carved in stone in attempts to preserve the tradition of Thai massage. These stone inscriptions can still be found within the walls of the Wat Pho temple in Bangkok. Traditionally the Thai people were primarily farmers who did a large amount of physical work in the fields each day, resulting in sore muscles. When the parents came in from the fields the children were taught how to massage the parents after a long hard day. In this way Thai massage has been passed down from generation to generation. There were also influences that came from other countries such as China, India, Burma, and Tibet shaping its evolution and development, for example Chinese healing arts or meridians ('jing') or chi, Hatha yoga (chakras), and Ayervedic four element theory (earth, air, fire and water) are all blended into Thai massage. Western massage strokes are typically of continuous effluerage and petrissage, while Thai massage uses pressure point, muscle stretching and compression in a rhythmic movement of gentle rocking. The energy called 'sen' creates an intricate network of 72,000 energy meridians and acupressure points that stimulate and relax a person's body and mind, encouraging the natural healing process of the body.

Practitioners use their hands, thumbs, fingers, as well as forearms, knees, feet and elbows along muscle and meridian lines to assist the flow of “sen” and return the body to a balanced state.

There are as many types of Thai massage as there are areas in Thailand, each having a different emphasis and flare, but the intent is always the same, to return the body to a balanced state of relaxation.

Thai massage is practiced with client fully clothed in loose fitting clothing, no oils or lotions are used, sessions take place on a thick cotton pad or mat placed on the floor or a low platform. Sessions are 1 to 3 hours in duration.

Thai massage is practiced very slowly in a meditative state cultivated by 'Metta' or 'metta bhavana". Metta means love, friendliness, and loving kindness. Bhavana means 'cultivation or development' creating a very positive emotional state towards ourselves and others, with intentions of the therapy to bring balance and harmony to the "energetic' body and mind of the recipient.  The four so-called Brahma Viharas (or Divine Abidings) comes from one of the most common meditative practices in modern Theraveda Buddhism in active cultivation of a positive mental state.

They include

    1. Metta-love toward all beings
    2. Compassion(Karuna)
    3. Sympathetic Joy(mudita)
    4. Equanimity(upekkha

Thai Medical massage can move deeper into the mechanical function of the body, working with deep muscle tension and joint mobility as well as nerve, muscle and ligament balancing. There are six key points of Nuad Bo- Rarn (Thai Massage)

    1. Yoga
    2. Exercise
    3. Meditation
    4. Reflexology
    5. Acupressure
    6. Healing arts.

The benefits of Thai Massage:

  • Facilitates relaxation.
  • Heightens awareness.
  • Frees blockage in energy flow.
  • Invigorates the nervous system.
  • Relieves muscle tension and pain.
  • Increases ability to absorb nutrition.
  • Strengthens and rejuvenates the body.
  • Improves circulation of the blood and lymph.
  • Increases flexibility (passive yoga postures).
  • Gives a general feeling of well being of body, mind and spirit.
  • Enhances elimination of wastes and toxic debris from physical, mental and emotional strain.

Thai massage can be particularly helpful in relieving headaches, migraines, arthritis, whiplash, pain, numbness, sciatica, back pain, and other conditions. Other therapies include Thai herb massage using medicinal herbal packs made into a bundle, steamed then applied to the body. The effect of the heat and the healing properties of the herbs have a deep impact on the body. As the heat penetrates the pores, the skin becomes heated, blood vessels dilate, and blood flow is stimulated, resulting in more rapid rebuilding and nourishing of the body's tissue. The herbs hold the heat from the steam to deeply penetrate and relax the muscles and tendons. This aids in stretching contracted or shortened muscles to alleviate pain and tension in the body. Deep relaxation relieves stress improving overall health and well-being. The healing properties of some of the specific herbs used including Siamese yellow ginger, eucalyptus, lemongrass, camphor, and kaffirlime peels. Each herb has its own properties such as stimulant, antiseptic, body pain, relax the nerves, respiratory, increase energy, mental clarity, emotional balance, detoxifier, cleanses, opens pores. Of course, the herb's aroma also has an aromatherapy action on the emotions as it smelled and its messages are sent to the brain. Today Thai massage is highly developed and is internationally famous as a means of relaxation and for its effectiveness in generating health and well-being. It creates a dynamic physical experience working on tendons, ligaments, muscles and the nervous system to balance and integrate the functions of the mind, body and spirit.

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