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The first thing she did before even laying hands on me was make a prayer. I have always felt that there is a special power that comes when the massage is tied to the ancient traditions of the land where it comes from, acknowledging the sacredness of serving wellness to the body.
Thai massage is done with the receiver fully clothed and laying on a mat on the floor. I was laying on my back and she started my pressing down on the tops of my feet, stretching the muscles on the front of my shins. She continued by kneading and applying pressure at pressure points on the fronts of my legs. I allowed myself to relax and I put myself into her capable hands as she moved and stretched my limbs in the the right ways and places to facilitate release.
As we continued through the rest of the session, she turned me first onto one side, then the other, and finally onto my stomach. I really appreciated the fact that she was working on my body in a three dimensional space. This allowed her to work on each part of my body in the most efficient way for her and for the part of my body receiving the work, and I felt that working in this way honors the relationships between different parts of the body more than our western idea of massage where we typically work on one side and then the other, one body part at a time.
There were times during the massage where she had taken one of my appendages right to the end of its range of motion and was working on lengthening the muscle fibers while they were in that state of passive stretching. I felt that working on the muscles in this way, while they were in their extended state, helped them to loosen more than just working on them while in a relaxed state.
When paired with the joint mobilization that accompanied the many passive movements that she took my limbs through, I felt that it was an amazingly effective treatment. As a massage therapist, I think that our western idea of massage could be greatly improved by adding some elements of this wonderful therapy.
After working over my entire body, the last half hour of the session was spent applying hot herbal compresses to my body. The heat and the moisture were very effective in opening up my pores so that the beneficial properties of the herbs could be absorbed into my body, loosening up any remaining tension lingering in my muscles.
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A quick note: I am always cautious when receiving bodywork that incorporates heat, particularly when there is no cold being used to balance it, and I did feel a little spacey after the massage and the hot compresses. Make sure to drink plenty of water afterward and if you are feeling a little out of it, a quick cool shower or dip in the pool should put you back right again.
My therapist spoke no English, and I speak no Thai, but none of that was really necessary. We didn’t need to speak a common language because, like any good bodyworker, she was speaking the language of my body and that was all that was necessary.
Have you ever had a massage in Thailand? What you your first Thai Massage in Thailand like?