Thai yoga massage has become a growing trend among massage therapists and alternative therapy providers in the United States. It combines yoga postures and principles with the ideals of Thai massage for the maximum benefits to the recipient, which include better circulation and immune system boosts.
Thai yoga massage was founded over 2,500 years ago by Shivago Komarpaj, who has been reported to have been Buddha’s personal physician. However, it has undergone many changes and evolved into numerous variations since its founding. Today’s version of Thai Yoga Massage has influences from Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian cultures and medicines. Even as it is compared across Thailand today, many different variations will be found. Thai massage is currently government regulated in Thailand and practiced as a medical discipline, instead of an alternative or complementary therapy. The treatment is sought out as a cure for many medical conditions.
Thai yoga massage is based on the concept that through massage during a series of yoga postures, the recipient receives health benefits such as relief of muscular tension, improved balance of body energy, increased circulation, and immune system boosts. The massage is applied to the body’s Sen lines (energy lines) with the hands, palm, thumbs, feet, and legs. There are over 72,000 Sen lines in the body, and they radiate outward from the naval to the orifices of the body.
This alternative therapy is commonly performed on a mat on the floor. Thai yoga massage recipients (and givers) should dress in comfortable clothing that allows for a wide range of movement and flexibility. The giver of the massage uses no oils or creams in the administration of the massage. Thai massage may be performed in individual sessions where the recipients are solo or in a group of up to 12 patients. Typical Thai massage sessions last for up to two hours and include the rhythmic stretching and manipulation of the body through the pulling of toes and fingers, cracking the knuckles, walking on the recipient’s back, and arching of the back into the cobra yoga position. The giver may administer the massage with his hands, palms, fingers, knuckles, feet, toes, and legs. The treatment is a comprehensive full-body massage.
There are many variations of Thai yoga massage. Because the discipline skills and theory have been handed down throughout history, it has changed each time it has been shared. The current version of Thai massage is much different than the original version, but it is based on the same principles. Additionally, variations exist throughout the world, based on individual cultures, techniques, and attitudes.
The wellness boom of the early 21st century has caused much more focus on alternative and complementary therapies such as Thai yoga massage. Individuals see the need to become healthier in order to fight health disorders and issues such as hypertension, heart disease, obesity, and chronic stress. They are seeking out natural, holistic therapies to take the place of invasive, toxic Western methods.
Thai massage has become a common service in many spas and wellness centers. Massage therapists are learning Thai massage, along with the traditional Swedish massage they usually learn and perform. Thai yoga massage is also becoming an important element of the offerings at many gyms and fitness centers. Recipients see the perks of getting a massage and being able to exercise at the same time through the yoga postures that are simply a part of the Thai massage.
However, skeptics still contend that no scientific evidence exists that proves Thai yoga massage has any lasting or impactful effects on one’s health. They indicate that while the massage may be pleasing at the time, the health benefits touted by masters of Thai yoga massage are questionable at best.