Traditional Thai Massage
From the old palace of Wat Po in Bangkok comes an ancient healing method set to raise a sweat from practitioner and client alike. Thai massage is a dynamic form of body therapy that will stretch you to your limits.
Taylor is a traditional Thai massage therapist who was trained at Wat Po Traditional Medicine School. She begins her sessions by “saying hello to her client’s body”, as she puts it. She just wants to let their body know that it is going to be touched.
Thai massage is a dry massage, unlike many western varieties. The full body pressure and dynamic postures involved would encourage slipping if oils were used. For this reason, the massage is performed through the recipient’s clothes and on their bare skin.
Taylor says muscles tend to respond well to a circular motion. She warms Jason’s body up, really getting into the buttock area, which cops a lot of tension because we use these muscles all the time for standing and sitting.
Practitioners from Wat Po are taught where all the muscles begin and end in the body. Taylor knows that if she massages the muscle in exactly the right spot, the tension will melt and release at her touch, regardless of whether the pressure is soft, medium or hard.
A traditional Thai massage usually lasts for a full hour and a half. There is so much to do in this time. Five areas of the body are worked on individually, in sequence; the right side, the left side, the front, the back and the seated position. There is warming, stretching, acupressure and yoga-like postures to be experienced. Taylor uses many parts of her body to do the massaging. Jason’s buttocks bear the full brunt of her body weight at one stage, as she uses her knees to massage in a circular motion.
Apart from reducing stress, Thai massage improves the circulation of blood and tones the lymphatic system. Apart from that, it works on removing blockages from the energy body, keeping the energy lines free-flowing, reducing the potential for disease.
In Thailand, Taylor explains, it is culturally inappropriate for a woman to sit at the head of a man. But in Australia, where this session is taking place, this does not pose a problem so Taylor sits at Jason’s head to gain better access to his neck and shoulders. She does what’s best for the health of the client.
Many other forms of massage forget about the hands and the feet. But Taylor pays special attention to both areas, working the tension out of those overused, often neglected digits. We forget we hold a lot of tension in our hands.
Taylor is particularly adept at massaging the feet. Feet are a whole component of study unto themselves in the course at Wat Po.
The only time Taylor uses oil in the massage is for the abdomen area, which she softly massages in a circular, clockwise motion.
In the last section of the session it’s time to get down to some serious Thai massage.
Jason’s body is lifted and stretched by Taylor. The best way to describe it is passive yoga. It’s like Taylor is performing Jason’s yoga routine for him. This is an intense experience for masseuse and recipient alike.
You obviously have to be fit, strong and flexible to be a traditional Thai massage therapist. At times, Taylor takes the full weight of Jason onto herself, and she’s smaller than he is. Her limit is six massages a day. Any more than that and she expends too much energy.
Despite the groans and taut facial expressions Jason expelled during the session, he really enjoyed himself. He hadn’t had a Thai massage for over three months and he definitely won’t be leaving it that long between sessions again.
Don’t leave it ’til your next holiday in Bangkok to experience an authentic traditional Thai massage. Students of the palace have spread the seeds of this fine tradition all over the world. And it’s a right royal treat.
Ancient Healing Therapies .