Thailand is one of my favourite counties in the world and I have been very lucky to spend a lot of time travelling around the country learning about their culture and traditions. Since qualifying as a massage therapist I have always wanted to learn Thai Massage but did not want to learn it in the UK, I wanted to learn it as I see it in the correct environment where it originates from. After a lot of research I decide to go over to Thailand to study their massage techniques, and this is what I did back in October 2016.
I enrolled with the International Training Massage School (ITM), based in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. I spent 3 weeks there and wanted to get as much training as I could from my time there so I studied:
- Foundation in Traditional Northern Thai Massage (Nuad Bo-Rarn)
- Thai Table Massage
- Thai Herbal Hot Compress
- Hand Reflexology
- Ru Sie Dutton Yogi Yoga
There are 2 styles of Traditional Thai Massage, Northern Lanna style and Bangkok Wat Pho. The Northern style which I trained in is more gentle and you take the client into stretched and hold them there, it has been called Yoga for the lazy people, where as the Bangkok Wat Pho style is much stronger and some people have said its like getting beaten up but in a good way.
Tradition Thai Massage is performed mainly on the floor fully clothed, but I can also adapt this to using some of the movements while the client is lying on the massage couch. During the massage the therapist will use a mixture of their hands, thumbs, elbows, forearms and even their feet at times (don’t worry they will be washed before hand). Thai Massage is different to other types of massage in that you will also participate in the massage with the therapist using a range of stretching, rocking, stretching and movement where as most other massage techniques have you the client lying down on the massage bed and the therapist does all the work. This massage is great to improve range of movement in the limbs/joints, helps to relax tight muscles. I now incorporate different techniques of the Thai traditional massage into my regular massage appointments if its appropriate. A lot of my clients love having the Thai Foot Massage, this is similar principles to Reflexology, but with the Thai Massage it not only works on the feet but also the lower leg up to the knee and incorporates massages, pressure points, stretching all within the clients limitations. If you think about what your feet and legs do on a daily basis they should be looked after as a thank you for getting you about the place.
The Thai Herbal Compress course was very interesting as I had to learn about the different plants that are used to make up the compresses as well as make them myself.
The Ru Sie Dutton Yogi Yoga, is a wonderful way to help with relaxation, concentrate the mind and bring you into the here and now. It’s a mixture of mediation and movements that could be seen as yoga poses. This is a great way to switch the mind off, relax and recharge the batteries. I am currently in the process of looking into setting up a course to teach students how they can benefit from this technique.
You will need to have a full medical consultation prior to having any sort of massage as some medical conditions will not be compatible with this style of massage, but your therapist will be able to guide you to which massage therapy would suit you best.
As well as spending my time studying I also enjoyed sampling the local food, visiting temples and taking in the culture. An interesting place to visit not far from Chiang Mai is the Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park. If you get a chance to visit this region of Chiang Mai you must visit here as well to see how they make paper out of yes you have guessed it elephant poo.