Traditional Thai massage
Is a type of massage practiced in Thailand that involves yoga style stretching and deep pressure massage. This form of bodywork is performed on the floor with the client wearing comfortable clothes that allow for movement.
Oils are only used in Thai massage for an added therapeutic effect.
In Thailand Thai massage is known as nuat phaen boran (thai: นวดแผนโบรา)
Nuat phaen boran means ‘the ancient-manner massage’
Thai massage can be done solo or in a group of clients in the same area. You will often come across massage stations in Bangkok or throughout Thailand with 20 or more masseurs and clients working together in the same area.
Unlike the west you will seldom have to book an appointment and often can not request a masseur. It’s just a matter of showing up, paying and waiting your turn to be massaged.
The client is put into yoga-like positions during the course of the massage. The masseur leans on the recipient's body using palms and thumbs with straight forearms slightly locked at the elbow to apply firm gentle rhythmic pressure.
The massage generally follows the Sen lines (10 energy lines) on the body — somewhat analogous to meridians or Channel (Chinese medicine) and Indian nadis. Legs and feet of the masseur can be used to fixate and massage the body or limbs of the client.
A full Thai massage session typically lasts one and a half hours or more, and includes rhythmic pressing and stretching of the entire body. There is a standard procedure and rhythm to this massage. Beginners learn this procedure and then evolve onto developing an intelligently designed practice to suit the client’s needs.
At Chill Belfast we provide southern style traditional Thai massage. This style is the founder style or ‘root’ massage style taught and practiced at the Traditional National University, Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok, Thailand
Chris Hoey our massage director at Chill trained at this university for 10 years and is one of Europe’s top masseurs. He is dedicated to the traditional practice of this massage system. Nothing has been changed or altered. At Chill you will experience Thai massage in its unique and original form.
The founder of Thai massage and medicine is said to have been Shivago Komarpaj (Jivaka Komarabhacca), who is said in the Pāli Buddhist Canon to have been the Buddha's physician over 2500 years ago.
In fact, the history of Thai massage is more complex than this legend of a single founder would suggest. Thai massage, like Traditional Thai Medicine more generally, is a combination of influences from Indian, Chinese, Southeast Asian cultural spheres and traditions of medicine. The art as it is practiced today is likely to be the product of a 19th century synthesis of various healing traditions from all over the kingdom. Even today, there is considerable variation from region to region across Thailand, and no single routine or theoretical framework that is universally accepted among healers
"Nuat boran" is the Thai name for a type of body work native to Thailand (nuat = pressure, boran = ancient). Other styles of Thai massage are: northern-style Thai massage, Buntautuk style, Old Medicine Hospital Style, traditional Thai massage, Traditional Thai Medical Massage, Ancient Massage, Thai Yoga, Thai Yoga Massage, Yoga Massage, Thai Classical Massage, Thai Bodywork, Passive Yoga, Assisted Yoga, and Ancient Siamese Bodywork.
Generally speaking, practitioners of modern Thai massage operate on the theory that the body is permeated with "lom," or "air," which is inhaled into the lungs and which subsequently travels throughout the body along 72,000 pathways called "sen," or "vessels." Typically, massage therapists manipulate a handful of major sen lines by pressing certain points along the lines. In most models, the sen originate at the navel and spread throughout the body to terminate at the orifices. A significant part of the practice of Thai massage also includes yoga-like stretches which are intended to stimulate the sen and move lom through the body via a pumping action which is connected with the patient's breathing.
The theory of sen and lom is often translated into English as "meridians" and "energy." While there are some superficial similarities to Chinese meridian theory, the Thai system is markedly different as the sen are unconnected from the internal organs.
Thai Massage & Ayurvedic healing
In Fifth Century BC India, the Buddha befriended Dr. Jivaka Kumarbhaccha, a famous Ayurvedic healer. Dr. Jivaka became the head physician for the original Sangha community of Buddhist monks and followers.
This man is known as "The Father Doctor" of Traditional Thai Medicine. Dr. Jivaka traveled to Thailand, the crossroads for merchant trade between India and the Far East. Recognizing the value of China's ancient medicine, he combined it with his Ayurvedic knowledge and created the four branches of Traditional Thai Medicine: herbal remedies, nutritional medicines, spiritual practices and Nuad Bo'Rarn or Thai Massage.
The word "Nuad" means "to touch with purpose of healing" and the "Bo'Rarn" is Sanskrit for something that is ancient and revered. An integral part of Thai Massage includes the practices of yoga and meditation. The knowledge and training of Thai massage has been handed down through centuries by the monks of the Buddhist monasteries, or Wats. One of the most famous learning institutions for Thai medicine is Wat Pho in Bangkok where Thai massage is still taught today.
Often referred to as Thai Yoga massage, this style of bodywork is different from what most western people think of as massage. It is practiced fully clothed on a floor mat without oils or lotions. Thai massage techniques, using the thumbs, elbows, palms, forearms, feet, and knees include: rocking, rhythmic muscle compression, assisted yoga positions and stretching, working along energy meridians called Sen lines. Three of the Sen lines run along the same areas as the yogic nadis, the Indian version of energy lines, affecting certain chakras (energy centrers) in treatment. A session is practiced very slowly (sometimes for more than two hours), in a choreographed "dance" as the practitioner moves the receiver around the mat, creating a relaxed, meditative state for both.
The purpose of Thai massage is to bring the body, mind, and spirit into a state of balance and harmony, providing an opportunity for self-healing. The practitioner always begins the session with "Puja", a moment of centering and connection, paying attention to Promwihan Sii, the Four States of Mind: loving kindness, compassion, vicarious joy, and equanimity. This practice helps therapist and receiver to enter a state of meditation, to be mindful of prana (energy and breathing), creating an empty vessel to receive healing energy and to achieve freedom from attachment. During Puja, the practitioner recognises and asks for assistance from the lineage of teachers (God, Buddha, Dr. Jivaka, her own personal teacher). The practitioner checks in with herself to make sure she is okay with doing the session and with working with the person on her mat. She asks for healing for the receiver, herself, anyone else she knows who needs healing, the world and the earth.
The benefits enjoyed from a Thai massage session may include the following: relief from stress, deep relaxation, warmed and stretched muscles, healing energy flow, greater flexibility, increased and focused energy levels, prevention of injury, relief from sore and aching muscles and joints, detoxification, and a feeling of confidence and well-being. This bodywork is perfect preparation for anyone in training for an athletic event, performance or any kind of physical or mental test. It helps one focus energy and attention on the task at hand. It is highly therapeutic for those in pain from tension, injury, or illness.
The yoga postures applied by the practitioner are intended to balance the receiver through the Ayurvedic philosophy of the tridoshas. Different asanas create this balance affecting the person's nature, whether they are kapha, pitta, or vata in their constitution. For instance, to assist a kapha client, the practitioner may assist the client into a plough asana. Or, for a pitta type, she may pull him into a cobra position. The therapist may choose to give a vata type person some palming on the shoulders.
How the therapist conducts the massage session will affect the client, too. For a vata person, the therapist will calm him and create steadiness and grounding strength by using slow, meditative, gentle movements, releasing tension in the pelvis and lower torso. The pitta type client needs relaxing, cooling work to help him give in to healing energy, affecting the liver and other abdominal internal organs. The kapha type will appreciate an energetic and stimulating session with postures that increase the heart activity and aerobic conditions.
Self-healing is the foundation of Ayurvedic healing, and Thai massage facilitates that for anyone willing to experience it. It is healing for both the practitioner and the receiver. Thai massage teachers and practitioners all over the world can be found listed in internet directories by searching "Thai massage". Some excellent books on Thai massage include The Practice of Thai Yoga Massage by Kam Thye Chow, Thai Massage Manual by Maria Mercati, and Thai Massage, a Traditional Medical Technique by Richard Gold. Kam Thye Chow is especially helpful in understanding the Ayurvedic principles involved with Thai massage. Of course, one can travel to Thailand to learn and to receive Thai massage from Wat Pho in Bangkok, the Old Medicine Hospital, and Lek Chaiya Nerve Touch Massage School in Chiang Mai, just a few of the myriad of schools there.