It is thought that Thai massage has its earliest roots in India and has been a healing therapy for millennia.
Theoretically, Thai massage is based on the concept of meridian system (energy lines) called Prana Nadis. The influence of its Indian origin lies in Yoga philosophy and the movements and stretches of Thai massage clearly have Yoga roots. The philosophy of Yoga states that life energy (Prana, Qi, Chi, Ki) is absorbed from the air we breathe and the food we eat and that we are supplied with this vital energy along this network of energy lines (also known as the meridian system in Traditional Chinese Medicine).
Any disturbances in the flow of energy result in an insufficient supply of Prana, which can in turn leads to illness and disease. By stimulating these energy lines with massage, Thai massage can release any blockages, facilitate the free flow of Prana, and help to restore general health and wellbeing. Thai massage mainly uses ten meridians and the important acupressure points that lie on them. By massaging these meridians and points it is possible to treat a wide range of diseases and to relieve pain.
Contrary to Western style massage, traditional Thai massage concentrates on the flow of Prana and any work with the physical body is secondary. Effleurage, which dominates in Western massage, is absent from Thai massage where the emphasis is on the energy points (acupuncture points) and these are pressed, or general pressure is used. Thai massage utilises a lot of stretching and many of these resemble Yoga stretches and postures and are sometimes described as ‘applied Hatha Yoga’.
In India and Thailand, massage was always considered to be a spiritual practice closely connected with the teachings of the Buddha. Until fairly recently, it was mainly in the Buddhist temple where massage was taught and practiced. Even today one of the most important massage schools in Thailand is at the Wat Po monastery in Bangkok.
A truly good Thai masseur performs his art in a meditative mood (Chen/Zen state) while working with full awareness, mindfulness and focus, “listening” to the feedback from the Prana lines and energy flow.
Thai massage is usually done on a futon mat on the hard floor whilst wearing loose and comfortable clothing.
Some common ailments that Thai Massage can help with are:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Low energy
- The effects of stress
- Back pain
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