You may have heard it said before: “Thai Massage is equally as beneficial to give as it is to receive.” But how can that be, if you’re not the one laying on the mat and being stretched and massaged into absolute relaxation bliss???
There are so many ways that I could approach this response. In fact, I can probably talk about the benefits of Thai Massage for days! But for now, I’ll keep it concise, using our 4 foundational principles as a guideline. These are concepts that we share in every workshop and course that we teach, and they are truly a gateway to the full benefits of Thai massage practice.
The first principle is all about mindfulness – we call it “Metta Bhavana”. In this foundation, we learn how to cultivate lovingkindness and compassion, which we express throughout each massage, using a mindful approach to the application of touch. The important thing to consider here, is that we should extend this mindfulness and compassion is not only to our receiver… but we should also practice metta toward ourselves! We can receive a great benefit in these moments by connecting with our breath, mindfully moving our own bodies, and using each technique in a way that feels safe, comfortable, and almost effortless. In essence, each time we give a Thai Massage, we are flowing through a moving meditation! More on Metta Bhavana here.
This blends right in with our second foundation, which is built on the biomechanics of the body. Each stance that we use during the massage allows us to position ourselves in a way that is safe and stable – keeping our joints aligned to maximize the effect of our pressure, while minimizing our own muscular effort or strain. A closer look at each stance shows how similar each one is to shapes and postures we use to stabilize or flow, while building strength and mobility in a yoga class. This is one of the ways we get to ‘sneak’ in some of the benefits of yoga each and every time we give a massage.
The beautiful thing here is that the more stable and comfortable YOUR body feels, the higher the quality of your touch becomes in that moment. In other words, what’s best for you is also best for the person you are working on!
The third foundation brings a rhythmic flow to our bodies as we use gentle rocking movements throughout the massage session. This helps our bodies by allowing us to maximize our weight transfer, and bring great ease as we apply pressure techniques. This greatly reduces the potential for discomfort or injury to your own body… in the moment, and also over time.
The rocking also gives a very soothing and meditative quality, which brings a sense of inner calm and relaxation for both the giver and receiver. It is almost like the experience of rocking a baby to sleep!
This all combines to allow our fourth foundation of quality touch, to be applied in a way that creates the most nurturing environment possible as we flow through the massage. An environment where the client receives skillful and mindful touch, while you as the practitioner are able to make optimal use of a variety of massage ‘tools” (ie. your hands, feet, forearms, knees…) to give pressure in ways that lower the risk of repetitive strain in the smaller joints of your fingertips/thumbs. This is extremely important for increasing the comfort, safety, and longevity of your career in massage.
Altogether, being mindful of these components allows your Thai Massage practice to be less of an “I give and you receive” arrangement, and more of a beautiful exchange where both individuals benefit from the time you’ve spent together.
After all… isn’t that how every healthy human relationship should be?