Thai massage – Hackney & Tower Hamlets, East London
‘A great find, just down the road.’ – S.B.
‘The massage with Spike was completely magic. I basically floated home.’ – Adele, student.
What happens during a Thai massage?
Thai massage is given on a mat on the floor, and you remain fully clothed. (No oils are used unless requested). You lie down, or sometimes sit, with pillows for support if needed. The Thai massage practitioner uses their hands, palms and fingers, and sometimes arms, knees and feet to apply pressure and stretching techniques to improve the flow of energy in your body. The treatment should feel comfortable and deeply relaxing.
The intention is to work the ‘sen’ (energy) lines of the body to harmonise the flow of energy around the body. See below for more information on this.
Benefits of Thai Massage:
Thai massage can help to relieve many physical problems such as back pain, tense shoulders and neck, stiffness, poor posture, indigestion and sciatica as well as stress and fatigue. On a deeper level, Thai massage will increase your body awareness, enabling you to notice and begin to let go of patterns of stress and tension. Most people report feeling lighter, calmer and more energetic after a Thai massage. It can also be an emotionally pleasurable experience which works to alleviate anxiety and depression, as it is a very grounding form of treatment. The integration of body, mind and spirit helps us to remember how good it can feel to be alive.
‘Thank you for the exquisite massage this morning. Great intuitive touch and movement, you find the right places and know when to push (or pull!). I left taller and more comfortable somehow. Leaving my wallet behind was my subconscious telling me to come back soon.’ B. H.
- Increased vitality
- Pain relief
- Reduced aches and pains
- Improved digestion
- Better circulation
- Softer breathing
- Improved flexibility and physical performance
What should I wear for Thai Massage?
Comfortable, loose-fitting yoga or sports clothes are best to accommodate the stretching movements in the Thai massage session. Leggings or tracksuit bottoms are ideal – not jeans or a skirt. A warm long-sleeved top such as a fleece or jumper is fine: remember when you lie down your body temperature drops, so it’s important to keep warm and to let your Thai massage practitioner know if you need more heat or a blanket.
What else do I need to do?
If possible, drink plenty of water for 2 or 3 days before (and after) your Thai massage – about one and a half to two litres a day, throughout the day – but don’t drink it all at once! This can help you to gain the most benefit from the massage.
Before the Thai massage, tell your practitioner about any injuries or health problems you have. Your Thai massage practitioner will provide you with a simple form to prompt you and to help you identify areas of stiffness or tension so that you can request extra attention there.
It is better not to eat for at least 1 hour before the session, and try not to eat, bathe or do strenuous exercise for at least an hour afterwards. Drinking plenty of warm water afterwards will enhance the benefits of the massage.
Isn’t Thai Massage painful?
Thai Massage shouldn’t be! Some people respond to light treatment, others like much stronger treatment, and an experienced Thai massage practitioner will be sensitive to this. The stretches should take you to your comfortable maximum and not beyond it. Your practitioner should always check with you to ensure the treatment and the stretches are ok for you, as well as effective. Sooner or later you will be able to recognise the benefits of an occasionally ‘strong’ sensation which disappears as soon as the pressure is released. This is an indication that the energy flow has been unblocked.
How often can I have a Thai massage session?
As often as you like! A 1.5 hour session every 4-6 weeks is ideal.
Can anyone have a Thai Massage?
Thai massage can be adapted to suit most people, however if you have any of the following do check with your GP before receiving Thai massage: epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, rheumatism, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, thrombosis. Do not have a treatment if you have a fever or contagious disease, if you have had a recent operation, or you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Where did Thai massage originate?
Thai massage, or Thai Yoga massage as it was traditionally called, has roots in India and China. The physician Chivaka Komarapatr, a private doctor of the Buddha, is said to have used massage and stretching techniques along with herbal and other remedies to treat ailments amongst the monks that were travelling with the Buddha, subsequently spreading these therapeutic techniques all over Southeast Asia. He is also the founder of Traditional Medicine in Thailand.
What do people mean when they talk about energy lines, or balancing energy in the body?
Thai massage operates on the theory that the body has natural pathways called ‘sen’ lines. These pathways are said to transmit ‘lom’ (which translates as ‘energy’ or ‘air’) which is inhaled into the lungs and is then dispersed throughout the body, a process which Western science may think of as respiration. Another way of understanding the term ‘lom’ might be ‘life-force’ or ‘spirit’. Although the Thai massage sen lines are not recognised in Western anatomy (as they do not have a physical structure) their pathways can be traced through anatomical landmarks. The sen lines often follow the grooves in between muscles, or run along the ridge of a muscle, or between muscle and bone, or they may fall between two tendons. Similarly, Indian Ayurvedic healing uses energy pathways called ‘nadis’ and Japanese shiatsu uses energy pathways called ‘meridians’.
Thai massage works to unblock the flow of ‘lom’, or energy, throughout the body, in this way stimulating the body’s natural healing properties. In Eastern forms of bodywork, the theory of a ‘life-force’ or ‘energy’ whose natural flow can suffer blockages causing pain, illness or disease, is widespread. ‘Lom’ is equivalent to the Indian term ‘prana’, or the Japanese term ‘ki’ and the Chinese term ‘chi’.
Western medical practitioners tend to categorise the body into various systems and structures, and Western clients receiving Thai massage might understand the concept of ‘unblocking energy’ and ‘healing’ in terms of increased circulation and lymphatic flow; improved digestion; muscle elongation and relaxation; hormonal balancing (eg: increased levels of ‘happy hormones’ such as endorphins, and decreased levels of ‘stress hormones’ such as cortisol), and so on. However the mind-body experience is greater than the sum of these individual parts. Thai massage recognises holistic and spiritual aspects to the treatment and can be understood to work more on the underlying condition of the body rather than by simply addressing individual symptoms.
Western scientific thinking has often been sceptical about the existence of energy lines and points, but recent research using brain imaging techniques has shown that acupuncture points have effects that could not be anatomically predicted. Once the energy lines are unblocked through specific massage techniques, the recipient often experiences a profound sense of emotional and physical balance and well-being, revitalisation and tranquillity.
Thai massage will automatically boost immunity to disease by lowering stress levels. Western medical practitioners have now begun to recognise the crucial importance of stress in the progress of a disease; something which has been understood in many Eastern healing practices for thousands of years.