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Stress Relieving and Curative Thai Massage

By: Stephen Carr

Date Posted: 2000-07-14

The art of Thai massage has a history of several thousand years. Originally from India, it is based on the theory common to Ayurevedic medicine, Chinese acupuncture and Japanese shiatsu, that meridians, or lines of energy run through the body. When the free flow of energy is blocked, illness can result. So a regular massage, making sure the meridians are functioning well, can help ward off sickness. Many Thais have two or three massages a week. These are not only pleasant, soothing stress relieving sessions. They are also regarded as preventative treatment, ways to pre-empt the doctor knocking on your door.

There are various massage schools which pass on rudiments of the ancient wisdom. One of the most famous is in Wat Po, one of Bangkok’s main temples. Here visitors can have an expert, inexpensive massage or gain a qualification in the art. In the grounds of the temple massage positions are carved in stone, an 18th century measure decreed by one of the Thai kings who was worried that the ancient art might one day be lost unless indestructible records were kept.

There are various styles of Thai massage which have minor variations on the same basic method. An Okinawa resident, Tassarin Nemeth, offers the northern style which has 59 steps. This type of massage starts with a mantra recited in Pali, the ancient language of the Buddhist scriptures. Roughly the equivalent of a blessing, it asks that any pain relieved from the massage subject, not be absorbed by the masseuse, but be directed away from both of them.

A Thai masseuse starts by cleaning the feet of her subject, lying on his/her back, with a wet towel. Then she rotates the feet, loosens the toe joints by pulling them and massages pressure points on the soles of the feet. As in Chinese and Japanese traditional medicine, every part of the sole is supposed to have a corresponding body part, whose health can be gauged and improved by touch.

She then works her way up the shins, calves and thighs. She uses elbows and feet, as well as fingers and thumbs to stimulate all the pressure points. Massage subjects are usually dressed in loose fitting pajamas and sometimes a light dusting of talcum powder is used. Thai massage does not use oil.

The massage subject is laid on his both his sides, stomach, put in a coss-legged position, may have the masseuse walk either side of his spinal column, may be balanced on his back across her knees. If he is experienced in the art he will probably relish the masseuse putting all her strength into the various maneuvers. If not, the masseuse may ask him before the session begins whether he wants light, medium or strong pressure.

A Thai massage is typically an hour long, though two or even three hour massages are not rare.

Tassarin Nemeth, whose other activities are teaching Thai to the US military and running a gourmet Thai food service (either to take out from her home or cooked in yours) is also planning to give individual massages and to teach the technique, once her Thai teaching course at Torii Station finishes on August 18. Those interested should contact her on 965-4998; 090-9587-0961 or e-mail her at tassarinnemeth@hotmail.com.

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