By Rhiannon Caldwell
There are certain things that people think of when they hear the word Thailand. Some of the first things that come to my mind are beaches, coconuts, massage, fantastic food and of course smiles. After spending nearly four years in the kingdom I can see how all of these things are related and every one of them are good techniques for relaxing. One thing Thai people do right is the art of relaxation. Sipping coconut water from a hammock, whilst watching the sunset over the ocean certainly hits the mark when I think about a great way to relax. A luxuriant Thai massage also sounds like a fabulous way to relax and rejuvenate. Beyond relaxation true Thai massage is said to be medicinal in nature.
History of Thai Massage
Thai massage dates back to at least 2500 years ago and could possibly go back as far as 5000 years. It is hard to know since the written records kept in the capital city of Ayutthaya burned during the Burmese invasion of 1767. What is widely agreed upon is the fact that Thai massage has been used for centuries as a healing art. It has been influenced by ancient Chinese as well as Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Some refer to Thai Massage as Thai Yoga Massage.
Common people passed down the art of massage orally for generations, so even with the great burning of records by the Burmese the art has survived and continues to thrive today. The royal records that did survive were transferred to Wat Pho in Bangkok at transcribed onto stone tablets and these 60 drawings can still be viewed at Wat Pho today. Thai massage is essentially assisted yoga poses designed to keep the energies in the body flowing freely, keeping one in a healthy state of mind, body, and spirit.
Thai Massage in Kindergarten
I was lucky enough to witness first hand, students in kindergarten and pre-k, learn traditional Thai massage techniques. Every morning from 8:00 - 8:30 the students gathered at the flagpole for the national anthem, morning stretches, songs, and dance. On Fridays massage was included in the activities. The children all dressed in Thai traditional dress on those days, and learned about traditional things and in their lines in the morning they would all give each other massages then turn around the lines and switch. Every single student and teacher was involved in this ritual. Even Thais that have had no formal training in the healing art of massage have been exposed to it through their very culture. Just like dance, art, and food massage is woven into the very fabric of the Thai culture and its people.
Where to Learn Traditional Thai Massage
So let’s say you did not grow up in Thailand and you didn’t have the opportunity to teach and be taught by the students of the land. Where else would one learn the ancient art of Thai massage? How about the original Thai massage school at Watpo Thai Traditional Massage School in Bangkok or Chiang Mai? The courses offered at both locations are 5 days and include 30 hours of instruction. The course covers an introduction to Thai Traditional Medicine and Thai Massage, precautions and prohibitions, proper posture, massage position, and how to welcome a client. The course is only 9,500 baht and is available to all nationalities and skill levels.
Beyond this brief introduction course there are many other courses available covering many different aspects including foot massage, facial massage, nail care, advanced medical Thai Massage, child massage, womens healthcare massage and more.
There are also courses available for massage professionals covering spa body treatments, and beyond. The Thai Massage for Health course is 26 days and covers 165 course hours. Anatomy, different techniques, and theory are all included in this comprehensive course.
Who can Learn Thai Massage?
You already know that Thai people begin learning the art of massage as young as 3 years old. Anyone can learn the art of Thai Massage it just depends on how much time you are willing to dedicate to it. There are courses available for both professionals and novices and they are appropriate for any age group. If you have a passion for healing, massage, or just learning new things taking a massage course in Thailand is about as awesome as taking a cooking course in Tazmania.
Types of Thai Massage
There are a number of different types of massage within Thai Massage and their benefits range widely. Finding the right type of Thai Massage will depend greatly on what you are looking for.
Targeted medical massage can help with a number of minor ailments such as tennis elbow, stiffness in the neck or lower back, muscle cramps, stiffness, or discomfort, nervous tension, and making joints and tendons more supple. Many patients who are paralyzed also seek Thai massage as it helps to prevent atrophy and muscle wasting in patients who are unable to exercise on their own.
Thai oil massage and aromatherapy focuses on the combination of oils that are good for the skin, and the aromas that are healing. The oil is applied and fluid motion is used with the oil to open up the body's energy lines. This is my favorite type of massage. It is designed to relax the body and relieve tension.
Thai foot massage uses the ancient methods of Chinese reflexology points to relieve stress, tension and pain throughout the entire body. The biggest benefit to a proper foot massage is the positive effect it has on one's internal organs and overall health and there are even special massage techniques aimed specifically at women who need relief from menstrual pain, or during pregnancy.
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