Massage Chairs Blog

Thai Massage Style

Posted on: April 1, 2010

Founded by Buddha’s physician, Shivago Komarpaj over 2500 years ago, Thai massage is a form of passive yoga.  It is a blend of Indian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian techniques and is currently practiced throughout Southeast Asia, (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, etc) as well as abroad.

Thai massage is based on the idea that there are 72,000 pathways (called “sen” in Thai) throughout the body through which air (called “lohm” in Thai) moves.  This is similar to the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) belief that the body has meridians through which chi (energy) moves.  Much like acupressure or acupuncture, the “lohm” of the body is manipulated by a Thai massage therapist who applies pressure to specific points along the “sen” lines.  It is commonly believed by Thai massage therapists that the “sen” of the body start at the navel and branch out through the body, ending at the orifices.  Although similar to TCM, the Thai paradigm states that the “sen” are not connected to internal organs.

Thai massage also utilizes yoga-like stretching, which is believed to stimulate the “sen” of the body in order to help the “lohm” move through the body and exit.  Often a Thai massage will start with the person lying on their back as the massage therapist starts at one foot and works their way up the entire leg, both applying pressure to key points along the “sen” and stretching and moving the foot and leg in order to promote the flow of “lohm.”  The Thai massage therapist will then move on to the other foot and up the other leg in the same fashion.  Next, one hand, arm and shoulder are stretched and pressure is applied to points along the “sen.”  And then the therapist will move on to the other arm, hand and shoulder.

After the legs and arms have been massaged, the therapist will ask you to “non kwam” (or “turn over”) to lie on your stomach.  The backs of your legs are then massaged and stretched again.  Then the therapist moves up to the buttocks, back, shoulders, and neck.  Depending on the therapist, they may or may not “walk” on the backs of your legs, buttocks, and back, or they may “walk” up your body on their knees, using the weight of their body to further stretch and stimulate pressure points along the body’s “sen.”

After they have finished with the back, you will again be asked to “non kwam,” (turn over), so that you are again on your back.  If you have a therapist who is from Thailand, they will likely excuse themselves to wash their hands at this point.  The head is believed to be the more sacred part of the body for Thai people and it would be considered rude to touch someone’s head after touching their feet and “lower” body.  Some massage therapists even say, “Excuse me,” before touching a client’s head.  The head, neck and face are then massaged.  Before ending a Thai massage, many therapists have their clients sit up so that they can again apply pressure to specific points along the “sen” of the back and neck.

The ancient art of Thai massage is only one of many massage techniques.  Modern massage chairs combine Eastern and Western massage styles and can provide the benefits of massage in the comfort of your own home.

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