I’ll be the first to admit I have a problem. I’ve had it for nearly two years now. I indulge in it as routinely as I can, which is often as it is quite affordable around here. This problem of mine is out of hand. At first, it was a flirtation – a casual sampling from time to time. Then it became a regular presence in my life – something readily accessible, inexpensive, delightful. Then it grew into an obsession as I slowly became a connoisseur and was able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Now, admittedly, it is a full-on addiction.
I crave it. I need it. I want it. I can’t imagine living without it. I can’t seem to let too many days lapse without having it. If a week passes, my body goes through withdrawals. I tremble. I stiffen. I race to find it. Once I am on the cusp of obtaining it, I flutter in anticipation – a schoolgirl about to receive a kiss from the boy she’s vied for all year long. I can hardly contain myself. When I finally get it, I relax into it entirely – with every molecule of my being. I exhale. I smile. I have it again and it is perfection. I want to be in that moment forever. I never want it to end. By now, I know where I can get it like I like it – strong, intense, deep. The stronger the better. I actually enjoy the pain of it. I don’t want the watered down version – the version the amateurs like. I want it like a seasoned professional. Anything else is a waste of time and money.
This addiction of mine is nuad phaen thai…or Thai massage.
History of Thai Massage
Traditional Thai massage is one of the oldest forms of developed medicine. It has been taught and practiced in Thailand for over 2,500 years. According to folklore, this ancient practice originated in India thousands of years ago. Thai massage is believed to have come from Jivaki Komarbhacca, who is still referred to as the “Father Doctor.” He was a physician, friend and contemporary of Buddha.
Philosophy of Thai Massage
Rooted in the Indian Ayurvedic medical practice, Thai massage is one of many forms of Oriental bodywork based on energy balance theory of health and healing. The Chinese system of acupressure is an obvious influence. Thai massage focuses on the ten major sen lines by palming and thumbing along these energy pathways. According to this theory, the human body contains a field of energy within it composed of 72,000 sen lines, ten of which hold top priority. The Chinese meridian theory calls this energy “Qi” and the Indian Ayurvedic system of nadis refers to it as “prana.” It is believed that blockages in the flow of this energy manifest in discomfort, disease and pain. Most ailments then are the result of an imbalance in these meridians, whereas free flow along the sen lines leads one to feel energetic, relaxed and free from stiffness and pain. Working pressure points along the sen lines releases blockages of energy and increases energy flow, thereby helping to restore balance, the key to good health. Well-being can be restored and maintained by rhythmically working along the ten sen or vital energy conduits.This sacred philosophy was taken directly from the teachings of Yoga. Thai massage is very rhythmic and meditative, enabling both the recipient and the practitioner to reach a deeper level of consciousness.
Practice of Thai Massage
The Thai massage form of body therapy includes therapeutic stretching, joint mobilization, rhythmic deep-tissue compression, toning of energy lines, acupressure, assisted hatha yoga poses, mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation. Due to the unique form of stretching employed, Thai massage is sometimes called “lazy man’s Yoga.” The practitioner is able to direct the intensity of the stretching and pressure points for a much deeper result than one practicing Yoga on their own would be able to achieve. Movements are flowing and harmonious, creating a deeply soothing yet energizing effect for both giver and receiver. It is practiced on a firm mat on the floor. It involves peripheral stimulation, acting as an external stimulant to produce specific, internal effects. The effective use of the practitioner’s body weight is instrumental in the practice. With the exception of the feet, the recipient remains fully clothed.
My number one top picks for Thai massage in Chiang Ma is Khunka Massage.