Friday, 27 June 2008

Herbal Thai Massage

Originally derived from ancient Thai traditions, Herbal Thai massage is slowly becoming a popular western modality. Thai yoga massage itself dates back over 2,500 years with roots from both Indian and Chinese healing practices.

The combination of a Thai herbal compress and traditional Thai massage techniques create a treatment designed to soothe almost any aliment one might experience.

History of Thai Yoga Massage

Jivaka Kumar Bahaccha, Buddhist monk and founder of traditional Thai medicine and Thai massage techniques, established Thai massage to alleviate pain by improving the flow of 'prana' or life energy within the body.

Prana circulates through the body along pathways called 'sen lines'. Theoretically, when someone is experiencing pain or disease there is an upset in the flow of prana which flows along these sen lines.

When these blockages are stimulated with the pressure, stretching and kneading techniques, along with modified yoga postures used in Thai massage, it releases the blockage allowing prana to move freely again. As the released prana effortlessly flows again, each system of the body is saturated with vital nutrients improving the body's normal functions. As the body starts to return to a balanced state the pain decreases, energy is restored and the client is filled with a renewed sense of vitality and well-being.

The Yoga Connection

Thai massage was created based on yoga philosophies and traditions as it helps balance not only the body but the mind and spirit as well. Typically a Thai therapist meditates before each treatment to clear their mind of distracting thoughts and focus on bringing healing energy into the massage.

As stated earlier, modified yoga postures themselves are integrated into each massage session creating a multitude of avenues to apply massage techniques. Thai therapist maintains a calming quality to the massage by applying graceful rhythmic movements and focused attention while connecting the postures, similar to practicing yoga.

The Herbal Compress

Herbal Thai massage incorporates the use of a heated compress containing a collection of medicinal aromatic herbs traditionally grown in Thailand. This compress is simply a pouch filled with ground Thai herbs wrapped tightly in a natural porous cloth, usually unbleached cotton or muslin.

It is most often steamed to stimulate the herbs then pressed or rolled on the body during, before or after a Thai yoga massage. When used in conjunction with a Thai massage, the heated ball allows the muscles and joints of the body greater movement and flexibility.

The herbs themselves are absorbed through the skin and used in the body to facilitate further release of energy blockages thereby improving energy imbalances within the body. Some of the herbs have drawing properties that allow removal of inflammation and swelling typical with injuries.

Benefits of Herbal Thai Massage

Traditional Thai massage is most commonly used to treat inflammation due to muscle and joint pain, injuries or imbalances but it is not limited to muscular system. Thai massage can help with all the systems in the body allowing whole body healing.

The herbal compress promotes further healing as the typical selection of Thai herbs offer many healing properties to the mind body and soul. Together the Thai yoga massage and the herbal compress promote healing in the following ways:

• Improves muscle injuries, imbalances and pain

• Improves blood and lymph circulation

• Improves physical and mental energy by releasing energy blockages

• Improves joint flexibility and range of motion

• Reduces acute and chronic inflammation

• Improves appetite and digestive processes and dysfunctions

• Prevents illness

• Slows aging process and degeneration of soft tissues and joints

• Boosts immune system

• Lowers blood pressure

• Encourages relaxation

• Prevents and alleviates stress and anxiety

• Calms the mind, improves concentration and positive thinking

• Speeds healing

• Improves movement and function of fascia (body's connective tissue)

• Decreases cold and flu symptoms

• Improves organ function and movement

• Calms respiratory dysfunction and pain

• Eases menstrual cramps and associated pain

• Calms and prevents migraines and headaches

• Helps with insomnia and other sleep disorders

This unique Thai tradition is welcome in North America by both therapists and clients alike. Its deep rooted history, balancing techniques and aromatic benefits offer a therapeutic treatment second to none.

Lana Cummings is a Registered Massage Therapist who practices both Swedish and Thai Yoga massage. She uses and recommends both the Thai herbal compress and poultice for treatments and for personal use. Visit for more information on herbal pain remedies.

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