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For your Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Health & Well-being - September 2005

West Goes East

Susette’s Massage & Body Work

Last winter I traveled from Moab to Thailand to study Thai traditional massage, Thai therapeutic massage and Thai foot massage. My studies took place over a three-week period at Wat Pho, an ancient monastery regarded as the most important royal monastery during the reign of King Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty 1782-1809. Wat Pho is home to the Thai Traditional Massage School in Bangkok. Some 60 ancient inscriptions kept at this monastery, depicting lines and points in the human body, are used for treating various symptoms and ailments. Healers have practiced these treatments combined with yoga principles for centuries and have passed this knowledge along by hands-on and verbal tradition.

In 1836, King Rama III decreed Wat Pho as the central location for all studies of the ancient arts and sciences; including medical science, pharmacopoeia and massage. Today Wat Pho is still esteemed throughout Thailand for the studies of Thai medicine and massage. While an extended study would be needed to acquire a medical knowledge of Thai medicine and massage, my introduction to the 10 Thai massage lines, also referred to as “wind channels,” was intensive and truly fascinating.

In the beginning, understanding these massage lines was a reach for my analytical mind. In attempting to question several instructors as to the reason for these techniques, a variation of the same answer, “...it is the way it has always been done,” was given to me each time. Anatole France once said, “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.” Once I put my analytical thinking aside and began to believe in the possibilities, I found my training providing a greater flexibility in my body and mind, as well as a new understanding for the meaning of tradition.

Thai traditional massage is composed of thumb compression techniques and yoga style stretching designed to stimulate the 10 Thai massage lines. Utilizing the Thai concept of anatomy, physiology and kinesiology, the therapist is able to balance the four elements of the body. The body benefits during this balancing with increased muscle and joint flexibility as well as increased blood and lymph circulation. Although one hour Thai massage sessions are widely available throughout Thailand a traditional Thai massage is two hours in length.

Thai therapeutic massage is used to treat more than 80 specific ailments in the body such as headache, muscle or joint pain and muscle weakness. In this more specific massage treatment, fundamental massage points are compressed and focus is directed to the area of the ailment and its associated points. While this method of massage does not address all 10 Thai massage lines—its methods provide pain relief in the area and a calming of over stimulated nerves and muscles throughout the body. This treatment is widely used for headache, tension and stress reduction, as well as on elderly or paralyzed persons to help prevent muscle loss that can occur from lack of exercise.

Thai Foot Massage, based in Chinese foot reflexology, is a healing technique that has been used for more than 3,000 years. This tradition teaches that the sensory nerves of the internal organs are connected and rooted in the foot. Foot massage is given to stimulate activity in the internal organs and maintain organ health and improved blood and lymph circulation, as well as to prevent and treat many ailments such as headache, tension, asthma, constipation, sinusitis, migraines, etc.

All of the Thai traditional massage styles mentioned here are performed on a floor mat with supporting pillows. The client can expect to have active interactions with the therapist as you are asked to change body positions and experience yoga style stretching. Clients wear loosely fitted light weight clothing during the session which allows for freedom of movement. No oils or creams are used during the body massage treatments; however, lotion is used for foot massage.

Thai massage is available by request and advance appointment only. I look forward to sharing this experience with you.

Call Susette at 260-2523 to schedule an appointment.

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