Thai massage offers a wide range of benefits through its variety of different styles, techniques, and areas of focus.
It comes as no surprise that in today’s hectic world, individuals are looking for new ways to relax and unwind. One option, Thai massage, combines mental calm and medicine to help stressed individuals relax completely, eventually learning how to let go of their tensions.
Thai massage offers not only a myriad of physical health benefits, but mental ones as well — even a few minutes every day can help your on your journey in re-learning how to relax.
What is Thai Massage?
As Navina Thai Massage founder Drew Hume explains, Thai massage incorporates a wide range of techniques including, but not limited to muscle compression, plucking, tapping, twisting, pulling, and other various types of tissue work. Most Thai massage doesn’t incorporate oil and aromatherapy and is performed on clients wearing clothing or drapery.
Some make a distinction between “Northern” versus “Southern” Thai massage styles — the former generally involves slower motions, stretching, and relaxation, while the latter is deeper and more dynamic.
Some also draw a distinction between “royal” and “folk” techniques practitioners use: a royal technique utilizes only the hands and focuses on the thumbs, while the folk techniques use many different body parts, sometimes including the practitioner’s feet.
The Diverse World of Thai Massage
Other than the most common styles of Thai Massage that involve muscle compressions, passive stretching, and twists, there are four major styles of Thai Massage: Jap Sen, Tok Sen, Yam Khang, and Kar Sai, according to Thai Massage Zone. Each employs a different technique, resulting in diverse sensations.
The Jap Sen style involves the massage practitioner using cross-fiber motions reminiscent of strumming guitar strings in order to “pluck” the tendons. As a first treatment, it’s often reported as feeling slightly ticklish, but with time, clients will become accustomed to the sensation and begin to enjoy immense relaxation during Jap Sen sessions, which elicit emotional and physical release.
The Tok Sen style is believed to have originated with Thai farmers, eager to relax after long, physically taxing work days. Tok Sen makes use of a wooden hammer and mallet that are struck down rhythmically to create vibrations on the client’s body. It is reportedly particularly useful for individuals suffering from chronic pain.
The Yam Kang style requires practitioners to place one of their legs on the client’s body while keeping themselves upright by balancing with a stick. Therapists first dip their feet in a bowl of Plai oil, then run them over a hot iron plate to ignite the oil, heating it, before applying it with the foot in long gliding strokes. The plate emits a “whoosh” sound and the produces of a small fireball.
Finally, the Kar Sai style is one that we don’t recommend: it focuses on an individual’s excretory and reproductive bodily functions. Special warmed oils are utilized by practitioners, who focus on the anal and genital areas of the receiver. Kar Sai massages are very useful for individuals with reproductive and urogenital issues, as well as those in need of postnatal care. Kar sai, however, is not considered a sensual massage, and is often quite intense.
At Navina, those in need of a Thai massage generally receive a treatment that is styled as a combination of multiple different forms, to make a treatment that is perfect for them. Having a vast range of tools in our toolkit will ensure that we can provide a therapeutic session that is best suited for the mental, spiritual, and bodily needs of our patients.