What is Thai Massage, How it Works and How You Can Learn It

Thai massage is a type of massage therapy that originated in Asia and has gained immense popularity over the past few years. In fact, it is gradually becoming more preferable than many other types of massage therapy today in the United States.

Due to the immense popularity of this type of therapy, complimented by the growing demand, many massage therapists are becoming interested in learning about Thai massage, its history, proper application and client benefits.

Many massage therapists are interested in learning about this massage technique in a traditional massage school, so as to not have to find another place that teaches it. However, there is an ongoing speculation about this type of massage therapy and some individuals in the profession do not consider it as a viable form of massage. This is interesting because like other therapies, Thai massage is considered to be the art of healing body ailments.

The techniques used in a Thai massage are quite similar to that of Yoga. In fact, there is a branch of Thai massage that is taught in quite a few Thai massage schools which is more of a treatment to induce healing in the body. This massage technique does not involve much touching.

There are numerous instances however in practicing Thai massage where the standard massage techniques are paired with other types of physical activities. These activities include stretching, rocking, rhythmic exercise and compression. These acts are considered very effective in transferring compassion, equanimity, love and joy. These conditions are referred to by practitioners as the Four Boundless States of Mind.

How Does Thai Massage Work?

The Thai massage comprises of an extensive variety of complex movements. There are quite a few poses involved as well. The therapist uses a unique combination of these poses and movements to induce relaxation. The movements and poses are often altered slightly, depending on the discomfort experienced by the client

However, the techniques involved in Thai massage therapy extend far beyond just poses and movements. This massage therapy also uses a combination of stretching movements and acupressure points. These acupressure techniques and exercises work in harmony, in accordance with Ancient Buddhist traditions.

The aim of Thai Massage therapy is not to just relax and heal the client. The traditionally performed Thai massage provides healing to the client and the practitioner alike. This is one of the most unusual aspects of this massage therapy.

How to Get Thai Massage Training

Unfortunately, not many Thai massage schools offer training of the true, traditional practices of this massage therapy. You may be able to find quite a few regular massage schools that offer specialized training for this type of massage therapy. Even if they do not follow the traditional aspects of a Thai massage, they can be quite effective. In most cases, the courses taught at these schools are known as “Thai Bodywork Programs”.

Since the massage schools in the United States are not specialized in teaching Thai massage, students resort to other means to learn about the traditional aspects of this technique. In fact, many people prefer to study this massage technique from where it originated from. This is why many enthusiastic students make their way to Thailand. This gives them a chance to study about Thai Massage therapy in its traditional and purest form.

There are two main cities in Thailand where you can learn the Thai massage. This is an important aspect to consider as the techniques taught in both cities are different. If you are interested in learning the Southern Thai massage style, you should consider studying in Bangkok. However, there is a gentler style, most commonly referred to as the Northern Style. You will be able to learn this massage style in Chiang Mai.

People who study Thai massage in Thailand are mostly certified therapists. The reason such massage therapists do this is that they are able to further and fully develop their skill-set, which could enable them to take their therapy practice to new heights. However, learning about the styles and techniques involved in Thai massage can be rather challenging to learn for a certified therapist. This is because the western massage techniques that the therapists may already be aware of are quite different from the Thai massage.

The main reason that this therapy type is challenging to learn is because of the yoga like techniques. You will have to help the client stretch and stay in various yoga-like poses, which can be rather difficult since you may only be used to western massage techniques that although involves touch, does not involve much bending, stretching and contorting.

Licensing and Recognition

Most renowned Thai massage schools receive a license from the Royal Thai Ministry of Health and Education. This license requires the schools to maintain a certain level of teaching quality. There are ways in which you can become a recognized Thai Massage practitioner as well.

For that you will have to become a member of the International Thai Therapist Association. There are many levels at which you can become a member of this organization, these are:

  • Affiliate Member
  • Recognized Student
  • Recognized Novice Thai Practitioner
  • Recognized Basic Thai Practitioner
  • Certified Thai Practitioner
  • Certified Advanced Thai Practitioner
  • Certified Thai Therapists
  • Certified Master Thai Practitioner
  • Certified Thai Facilitator
  • Certified Thai Instructor
  • Certified Thai Instructor Advanced
  • Certified Master Thai Instructor
  • Institutional School Member

Do keep in mind that the level that you are recognized at will be decided in accordance with your skills. Of course your experience, training and practice will also be taken into account.

Incorporating a Thai Massage into Your Practice in the United States

The Thai massage is yet to gain massive popularity within the United States. This is because it hasn’t been around for a long time. But, the only way to conjure people’s interest towards Thai massage is to continue practicing it.

Of course, this massage therapy could gain more popularity eventually. There are methods of incorporating it into your regular massage practice today. One idea do to this is to combine a part of it with an existing offering such as spa treatments for example. This could at least introduce your clients to the experience. If the demand persists, you can continue to expand the practice the way it’s meant to be performed.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

Posted in Types of Massage Techniques

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