Why Thai massage?
by Loren Evans —
In our world is a country where massage is core to the culture, society and family, and that country is Thailand. At birth, children are often given massages by their mother and father, and massage treatments continue as they grow. Then something magical happens — the children start massaging mom and dad.
To understand the how’s and why’s, we must go back more than two millennia when Buddha was alive and developing his philosophies of enlightenment. Many people came to learn of his teachings, but one person, a physician, stayed. In time, he became Buddha’s personal physician.
Buddha eventually passed on, and his faithful followers parted to share his wisdom. Buddha’s personal physician took his travels eastward through Southeast Asia. There he taught Buddhism and shared his healing ways. The people of Thailand know that kindly man as Dr. Jivaka. He helped establish temples of worship, learning and healing. Today, Thailand believes it is the keeper of the sacred healing arts developed and shared by the good doctor.
Throughout the millennia, when people had ailments and pains, they would go to the local temple for healing. There they would be prescribed massages, herbs to apply topically, herbs to ingest and so many hours of meditation — a very holistic approach to healing. The underlying principle of Thai work is opening the “Sen,” which means line. Sen in Japanese means energy. The Sen must be open for wind to travel properly in the body. When it is closed, the wind gets stuck, resulting in disease and poor health.
Today, the healing arts of Dr. Jivaka are no longer confined to the temples but, instead, are now taught in various schools in Thailand. A wonderful resurgence is occurring for the Thai people to learn their massage heritage. Even more incredible is the international response to Thai massage. Students from around the world attend Thai schools.
Some of the modalities taught and generally available to the public are the following:
Traditional Thai massage — This massage lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. All the work is done on a Thai mat on the floor with the client in loose clothing. During the session, the client has all the major “Sen” opened, followed by incredible yoga-like stretches that open the joints and stretch the muscles, tendons and ligaments resulting in an overall sense of well-being and healing. This is great for weekend warriors, anyone who does arduous work and those who want a very different interactive, relaxing experience.
Thai foot massage — This hour-long treatment for the feet and lower legs works the Sen, opening up the blood, lymph and nerve circulations. It can provide temporary relief for neuropathy and other foot and leg ailments.
Thai herbal massage — This massage consists of oriental herbs that are crushed together and then tied into muslin balls. The balls are steamed to the point where the juices of the herbs are dripping. The hot balls are then slowly and deeply applied to the Sen of the body. After application of the herbal balls, clients are often treated to 20 minutes of an herbal sauna, in which those same herbs are steamed in a cooker and the client’s body is enveloped in the healing herbal steam externally, as well as internally, by breathing in the vapors.
Around the world, Swedish massage is being replaced by Thai therapy work because many people are realizing that Thai massage provides something different and something of substance that promotes their well-being. Soon the United States will learn the same.
Loren Evans developed computer software for health care companies for 30 years. For the past 20 years, he has been learning and practicing the healing arts. He is certified in numerous modalities by the Thai government and teaches the Thai arts at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts. firstname.lastname@example.org or 480-994-9244.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 6, December 2014/January 2015.