On a practical note a traditional Thai massage is performed through clothing on a futon mat, on the floor. “How can you feel anything through clothing?” I hear you wonder. Well, in Thai massage pressure is applied through slowly and gently leaning with bodyweight using a range of techniques (palms, thumb, forearm, elbow, knee, foot – don’t worry – Thai massage should not be painful!) You will feel a deep effective pressure and your therapist will have developed sensitivity to feel how your body is responding to the pressure and what is the right pressure, through clothing. This slowly sinking pressure has the potential to touch: skin, fascia, muscle, organs, nerves, bone…(WIth experience it’s possible to feel a hair through 15 sheets of paper.)
Sometimes your temperature can drop during a treatment, so a blanket may be used to keep you warm. You will be looked after.
A Thai massage typically works up the body – although every single treatment is unique. The therapist does not have a sequence or plan but responds to your body, tailoring the treatment along the way, relating it to how you are, in that moment. Your treatment may include a section with you lying on your back, front, side or in a seated position on the futon. It may involve lots of stretches, or lots of energy line work. Whatever it is, it’ll be what is felt to be right for you from the consultation and from feeling.
During the treatment, it’s your time to relax, there really is nothing for you to do. Any yoga stretches will be passive. This full body relaxation allows for a deeper stretch. Thai massage is often depicted as big dynamic stretches, but don’t worry, you don’t have to be a yogi to enjoy the treatment and stretches will only be used if and when they are right for you.
Having a Thai yoga massage takes you on a journey around your body. It really is full body, even your ears will get a treatment (which is great because there are over 100 acupressure points in them!). It can be great to use the time to enjoy some silence (rare – and golden!) and focus on your breathing, which can help you switch off from all the things in life we have to mull over! The treatment itself is rhythmic, in time with either your – or the therapist’s – breath.
The full treatment ends with a face massage, which balances the treatment and leaves you in a deep relaxation. A treatment can take a few days to fully balance, sometimes you may feel really energised after, whilst another time you may fancy a big nap – and a big feed. It’s good to listen to your body, if schedules allow! A treatment can be detoxing, so it’s good to drink plenty of water after to flush out any toxins that have been released, plus it’s advisable to avoid alcohol and caffeine for 24 hours as your body is detoxing.
I hope I’ve created an overview of what this therapy can be. It really is a beautiful treatment, and usually a lifelong passion for most who embark on learning!