The most desired massage in Hollywood – the rich and famous are all raving about Thai yoga massage. But what exactly is it?
Here, Mario Constantine, Thai yoga massage therapist and teacher trainer, fills us in on the strokes …
Where did it come from?
Traditional Thai yoga massage has been practised for hundreds of years in Thailand. However, the earliest roots of the techniques of the massage are actually from India.
Buddhist monks are said to have brought much of the teachings of Thai yoga massage, along with Buddhism, as far back as 300BC.
The art and medical knowledge of Thai yoga massage was traditionally passed down from teacher to pupil, and many of the medical scriptures that did exist were destroyed by various invaders of Thailand.
A few remnants do exist and some are carved on the walls of Thai temples. In more recent times Thai yoga massage has seen a resurgence in Thailand.
Due to western medicine being more orthodox and widespread, it has meant that genuine forms of Thai yoga massage and healing were almost lost.
What exactly is it?
The understanding of Thai yoga massage is based on the principle that the body has energetic pathways which carry a life force. In yoga philosophy this is called "prana", and these pathways make up an energy system.
This system is made up of invisible energy lines of which it is understood are 72,000 lines. Any blockages that occur within the energy system that restricts the flow the prana can lead to many common ailments and disease on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.
Why is it different from other massage techniques?
Thai yoga massage is a unique massage therapy, combining acupressure, gentle stretching and applied yoga.
It focuses specifically on ten important lines called the "ten sen." and a complete Thai massage treatment will incorporate all of these lines.
A practitioner working on these ten main energy pathways will provide a practical treatment sufficient for the whole body and its internal organs.
The therapist will apply pressure to points along these lines in combination with yoga-based stretches to stimulate the prana to release blocked energy and help restore health and vitality.
How is it performed?
The application of a Thai yoga massage is given through loose comfortable clothing and is applied with the recipient lying on a mat on the floor.
There are many stretches and techniques and due to the variety of stretching it can be described as applied yoga.
It is not necessary for the receiver to be extremely flexible to receive a treatment as some may believe, as each session is adapted for any individual and is beneficial for people of all ages and flexibility.
What are the benefits?
Thai yoga massage has numerous benefits and many people may feel energised quickly from the release of new energy in the body, and on other occasions people can feel tired after receiving a treatment as old energy passes through the body, but ultimately feeling rebalanced.
Thai yoga massage can help provide flexibility in the joints, improve blood circulation, better overall alignment of the body and posture and also aid optimal functioning of the internal organs.
Generally, Thai yoga massage usually leaves the receiver with an overall feeling of relaxation and when prana flows freely, wellbeing is greatly improved.
Historically, Thai yoga massage was given in a temple and was seen as an extension of Buddhist meditation practice. The spiritual nature is an important aspect of Thai yoga massage.
When a healing treatment is applied, the practitioner aspires in every moment to feel a sense of awareness and of being present.
A healing which is given in a meditative state with care and awareness is a wonderful experience to receive.
Also a practitioner will practise a "loving kindness" meditation during a massage, and one description of Thai yoga massage that it is said to be "the physical application of loving kindness".