Massage therapy

History, Benefits & Techniques of Traditional Thai (Yoga) Massage

Whether opting for a traditional Thai, a Swedish, or an aromatherapy massage there are always questions that you would like answering, unless you are a fly by the seat of your pants kind of person of course. We have vast experience and training in the massage profession and would like to help you to decide on what would be best suited to your needs, wants and requirements.

If you are experiencing difficulties with pain, emotions, illness, or fertility then the traditional Thai (yoga) massage could be the one for you. Based on an Asian methodology, the energy points are probably the cause of your difficulties and as these clogged networks can be unblocked through this massage practice, there is a high chance of restoring your body’s original functions.

Where did Thai (yoga) massage originate?

Traced back to the 3rd century B.C., the traditional Thai massage is considered to be an ancient healing art. A common misconception about this massage is that, as the name suggests, it originated in Thailand. The foundations of this healing practice, however, were in fact adopted by Thailand when it was imported from India, along with other traditions of Buddhism.

The original therapy was conceived by a modern Buddha in Northern India; Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha. Bhaccha was the personal physician of Magadha King Bimbisara, one of the earliest kings of the Indian Kingdom in 543 B.C.

From this point, traditional Thai massage branched off into different sectors, some making ties with the Chinese practice of acupuncture and meridians and some incorporating the Sen lines while maintaining the traditional yoga poses.

What is a traditional Thai (yoga) massage?

Traditional Thai massage is based on the energy line system within the human body, known as the Sen. It is understood that the forces of life flow through these lines but can become blocked. If the energy is obstructed it will build up in some areas, consequently leading to pains, aches, and diseases.

It is the job of your traditional Thai masseuse to release these blockages and encourage the energy to begin flowing again smoothly and consistently. In this way, your body is once again able to function as it was built to.

Through gentle stretches and Hatha yoga poses, the energy can flow through the desired system again, healing physical and psychological difficulties as well as balancing the harmony within.

According to the ancient healers, life energies are taken in through what we breathe and what we eat. This process is referred to as Prana. The energies follow different networks, also known as Prana Nadis. The Ten Sen are the most important energy lines which have been specifically chosen to treat the whole body, inside and out. Each of the connections and vessels that join them are encouraged and protected by the four elements of traditional Thai massage.

The four elements of traditional Thai massage

The ancient teaching of traditional Thai (yoga) massage is spiritually inspired by nature. It is trusted that the human body is not just composed of Sen lines, but is also comprised of the elements; earth; wind; water and fire. All of which are essential for the energy networks to flow as they were intended to. If the interaction between the elements is as it should be then you are well and pain-free.

Although the elements are not literally inside your body, the natural features of the elements are. Each element has an important role to play in the smooth running of your body.

  • Fire is the element that is responsible for the temperature of your body, the way your blood circulates, how your body deals with infections, and your metabolic rate. The features of fire include heat and its ability to destroy or transform.
  • Earth is the structure of your body; the solid organs. If this element is blocked then it can lead to diseases of these body parts. If this element is unable to work correctly then the blockage can affect the heart, the liver, the bladder, the kidneys and the lungs.
  • Water is the element that features the semi-solids, such as blood, renal, and bladder systems. If you have begun getting regular water infections or your fertility is not as you would hope then there may be a blockage that is affecting this element.
  • Wind is an important element as it controls the movement of the circuits. For example, how the blood flows through your body. It also controls the respiratory system so congestion, bronchitis, and dizziness are all controlled by this factor.

All four elements must work together to fulfil their functions. For instance, if the water gets too cold then it will struggle to flow. If the fire does not warm the solid organs, then the beat of the heart will slow to compensate.

What are the Ten Sen of a traditional Thai (yoga) massage?

The Ten Sen of traditional Thai (yoga) massage and what ailments they concern are defined under the practice guidelines and the teachings of ancient healers. With extensive training and experience, your therapist will be able to work with you to decide which energy lines should be worked on. As the Ten Sen have been the focus of this therapy for centuries, you can research before your appointment, or go through them with the practitioner when you arrive.

  • Sen Sumana: This energy line is considered to be the most important pipeline as it stretches from just above your belly button, up through the chest, parallel to the spinal column, and continues up through the throat until it reaches the tip of your tongue. Do not worry, we will not be stroking your tongue at any point of the massage!
  • The Sen Sumana is a passageway for the wind element and therefore affects the respiratory, blood, abdominal and digestive systems. It is an energy line that has been known to particularly help people who suffer from asthma, heart disease, nausea, upper body paralysis, and mania.
  • Sen Ittha concerns the earth element and has been found useful for the treatment of headaches, nasal issues and urinary tract infections, in addition to insomnia, intestinal problems, and knee pains.
  • Sen Pingkhala is a fire element whose energy lines control difficulties with the gallbladder, liver, lungs, kidneys, and eyes.
  • Sen Kalathari is considered to be the psychic and emotional line. Combining both fire and wind elements this prana nadis concerns the movement of your body and the way your muscles interact. It is especially important in the treatment of arthritis, shock, epilepsy, and depression. Some research has also indicated that it is a good treatment for schizophrenia, hysteria, and trauma.
  • Sen Lawusang is a channel for the wind element. It is particularly focused on the heating systems and can help with deafness, ear diseases, tinnitus, as well as facial paralysis.
  • Sen Ulangka is also a wind element channel that is connected to the ears, it affects other ailments as well, such as easing insomnia and itching that is felt beneath the skin.
  • Sen Sahastsarangsi, a water-carrying line is important for the relief of issues that are connected to the eyes, lower abdomen, and chest. For example, red and swollen eyes or diminished eye function are affected by this energy network. Research also shows that unblocking the Sen Sahastsarngsi can improve manic depression, facial and leg paralysis, as well as urogenital complications.
  • Sen Thawari is also a water-carrying energy line that can support treatment for fevers, toothaches, appendicitis, and knee joint pain.
  • Sen Nanthakrawat, being a wind focussed energy network this line is concerned with the functioning of genitals and lower excretions. It is particularly important if you suffer from frequent urination, infertility, impotence, and irregular menstruation. This line runs alongside the groin.
  • Sen Kitchanna is on the opposite side of the groin to the Sen Nanthakrawat. It has many of the same complications that are caused but is also important for the balancing of your libido.

As you can see, the body is full of energy lines, it is believed that there are over 72,000 different networks that could get blocked. The Ten Sen are the most important ones and the circuits that are likely to create the best relief for your ailment. The other networks are sublines that branch out of these ten.

Each line, or Sen, has the potential to become blocked which could affect the main issue that is encouraging you to seek treatment, You may even have several other difficulties that you may have been unaware were connected through this line. It can be surprising for some to learn that recurrent urinary tract infections can be caused by a blockage that is positioned near your head.

By understanding the vastness of the internal working of the human bodies energy system it is clear to see that for you to get the most out of your traditional Thai massage, it is important to have a good conversation about what issues you are facing and what you hope to gain from the therapy.

Even if the illness or tightness appears to be completely unrelated, they may be a part of the same network. With your therapists understanding of the energy directions and intentions, he or she can join the dots and this will guide them on the Sen that they need to concentrate on.

Why chose a traditional Thai (yoga) massage?

Traditional Thai massage is never only a job. It is a spiritual dance between therapist and patient. Until recently, it could only be practised within the confines of the Buddhist temple. These temples continue to be important in the training of traditional Thai massaging. Recently the practice has become practised outside of the temples as devoted therapists are believed to carry the ‘loving kindness’ that is used in Buddhism, consistently. Beginning the massage with a meditative prayer, known as the Puja, the masseuse will be fully centred when using the healing art.

This grounding allows the practitioner to use intuition and feel for the energy flowing, any blockages and release them for you.

Benefits of a traditional Thai (yoga) massage

The benefits of the traditional Thai massage are extensive. Janepanich and Tuchinda found in 1990 that receiving a Thai massage on the neck and shoulders significantly decreased the clients pulse rates and blood pressures. Through this, dizziness, headaches, pain and tightness all eased from the shoulders and up.

Traditional Thai massage is beneficial for headaches, knee, back and shoulder pain as well as numbness and loss of feeling.

In 1992 Ungpinijpong et al, studied 38 patients who were suffering with back pain and vertebrae degradation alongside back muscle inflammation. Traditional Thai massage was found to increase the temperature which eased the pain and allowed more elasticity in the muscles.

This treatment, which is also considered to be a rhythmic dance between client and therapist, can relieve symptoms of the dreaded Premenstrual Tension in addition to providing pain relief during labour. Together with aiding overall flexibility, relaxation, energy and restoration of the body, a traditional Thai massage can benefit a multitude of illnesses and diseases. For instance, individuals who experience longer term effects of multiple sclerosis, strokes, fibromyalgia and more have reported a better quality of life since they have begun traditional Thai remedies.

What happens during a traditional Thai (yoga) massage?

Unlike other massage forms, the Traditional Thai Massage does need you to be undressed. As your therapist finds your blockage, they will press the energy point that is associated with it so that your Prana can flow freely again. They will do stretches so that the energy lines are completely free of the build-up, encouraging the natural flow to restart.

Using their body weight your therapist will gently apply pressure to the blockage points along the relevant energy line. Using their fingers, hands, knees, legs, and feet you will feel the force of the bodyweight upon you. Although potentially feeling strange at the time, if done correctly, the results can be instant as the wind element is free to transport your energy.

Four stretches are important in the traditional Thai (yoga) massage. One is used to warm up the body and make it pliable ready for manipulation. The second involves the therapist stretching out your legs and then pushing them inwards. This presses on the abdomen and elongates the spine. The third stretch will lengthen the spine to allow the energies to flow easily. With your hands gripping the thighs of the therapist your shoulders will be raised by the therapist. The fourth is also intended to lengthen the spine, releasing upper body tensions. Laying on your back you will be pulled upwards towards the therapist.

Although this sounds and looks like a painful group of stretches it should not hurt and if you do experience pain or discomfort you must tell your therapist straight away. You should feel calm, relaxed, and grounded following your traditional Thai massage.

Are traditional Thai (yoga) massages safe?

As you are now aware the traditional Thai massage works on energies that are supposed to flow within your body through specific networks. The benefits of this type of massage have exceeded the expectations of many researchers and practitioners however some conditions would need you to check with your GP first and have a conversation with your therapist about the options.

For those who suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, coronary artery disease, osteoporosis, or neurological conditions that affect the spinal cord it is important to get advice first.

With many conditions, it is possible to lower the intensity and pressure, in some cases however, a different form of massage may be better suited to your body. For example, if you are pregnant or recovering from surgery then the technique could cause health problems or worsen pre-existing injuries. For this reason, you must be open and honest about the reasons that you have chosen a traditional Thai massage and what you hope to gain from it.

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