What is Thai Bodywork?

Thai massage is an ancient form of bodywork, believed to be over 2500 years old. Its origins began in Ayurvedic medicine in India, but matured to its present form in Thailand. Buddhist monks continued development of Thai massage within the temples. Dr. Jivaka Kumarbhaccha was considered the father of Thai massage and Thai medicine and said to have been physician to the Buddha himself. 

Thai bodywork has many names. It is called Thai massage, Thai yoga, Thai yoga bodywork, Thai yoga therapy, applied therapeutic stretching and applied yoga therapy. The term yoga is used because of the signature yoga-like stretches that are part of Thai. The passive stretches are received by the client rather than actively moving through asanas or yoga postures. Thai bodywork mobilizes the joints moving them through their maximum safe range of motion. The therapist uses palming and thumbing techniques on pressure points throughout the body. These pressure points are within lines, known as sen lines or meridians. It is within these lines that early practitioners felt energy flowed through the body. Imbalance or dysfunctions are viewed as energy blockages in the body and Thai bodywork brings the body back into balance. Thai bodywork is a system that includes; acupressure, stretching, reflexology, breath work and meditation. Thai therapists impart “metta “ or loving kindness while being fully present with the client. It is this combination of intent and technique which allows for a slow and meditative release of tensions. 

Thai is usually done on the floor on a large mat in a quiet area. The client is able to remain fully clothed and in most instances no oil is used. This is a plus for many uncomfortable with traditional massage. Multiple positions are used with prone, supine, side and seated positions depending on the area being worked. Sessions can be as short as 1 hour and as long as 3 hours. A 90 minute session is best to allow the therapist to work all positions and 2 hours is even better. At the end of a session, the client is relaxed, centered and loose.


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