Thai Yoga bodywork

Despite its popular name, Thai massage is not massage as it is known in the West. Sessions are carried out on a floor mat in comfortable, loose clothing, and no oils or lotions are used. There is constant body contact between the practitioner and client, but instead of rubbing on muscles, the body is slowly and firmly moved and compressed to relieve tension and to clear energy blockages. The practitioner uses thumbs, palms, hands, elbows, knees, forearms, feet, and toes to create a dance of movements on the body of his client. In this process, blockages are freed, internal organs are toned, and energy is balanced.

Traditional massage in ancient Siam was carried out in village society and also in the royal court. While masseurs in the royal courts were only allowed to use their hands, villagers also used feet, elbows, knees, and forearms to manipulate the bodies of their recipients. In Thailand today, most massage practitioners utilize multiple body parts to achieve the desired effect. The Southern style, with its renowned learning center at Wat Pho in Bangkok, is characterized by point pressure along the energy lines and a deep “plucking” or “flicking” with the thumbs and fingers in order to stimulate energy flow. In Northern-style Thai massage, practiced in and around Chiang Mai, the therapist uses gradual pressure on the energy lines, gentle rocking movements, and deep stretching postures.

Because of its closeness to yoga, and the calming, restorative effect it brings about, the Northern style is often favored by Westerners, and it is this style that has been enjoying increased popularity around the world in recent years.

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