Thai yoga massage, also simply called Thai massage, is a 2,500-year-old Ayurvedic-based body science developed and popularized by Buddha's doctor, Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha. A trained Thai Yoga massage therapist stretches a person with specific, assisted yoga poses. The philosophy behind Thai yoga massage techniques focuses on energy points called "sen." As the Thai massage therapist stretches the participant, she also presses and massages along the sen lines or points.
Release of Muscular Tension
"Seattle Times" reporter Richard Seven highlights his own experience with Thai massage therapist Hiu-Hung "Grace" Phong. He reports his muscles stay loose days after a session. To achieve this result, the therapist presses knuckles, feet, hands, thumbs and fingers into specific points while holding the participant in a stretch. This combined effort relieves areas of muscular stress and tension. Techniques involve stretching myofascial tissue; acupressure; compression of tissue; and manipulation of soft tissue.
Thai yoga massage works in a similar way to regular yoga poses. As participants hold a pose, blood slows to targeted areas. When the yogi releases the pose, fresh circulation rushes back into the area. Twisting and inverted Thai yoga massage positions, such as plough, shoulder stand and spinal twist, are particularly effective in refreshing circulation. According to "Yoga Journal," inverted poses can help with lymphatic drainage, the return of blood to the heart and digestion.
Release of Mental and Emotional Stress
Yoga and massage therapy can be alternative approaches to mental health care. In Thai yoga massage, as well as other massage schools, the release of emotional or mental stress occurs through the manipulation of muscles. Thai yoga massage also incorporates meditation, which can help participants manage stress and let go of negative emotions. Richard Seven emphasizes that Thai massage is more than a physical science. The therapist works to carefully help the participant find the connection between exterior, or physical issues, and interior issues of the mind and heart.
Boosted Immune System
The Lotus Palm School of Thai Yoga Massage lists a boosted immune system as one of the benefits of Thai yoga massage. The American Massage Therapy Association lists several scientific studies which support the claim that participants can improve their immune systems through Thai massage. By invigorating the nervous system and releasing toxins through improved circulation, Thai yoga massage students may increase their immunity to diseases. Many yoga students and yoga schools also believe that the practice of yoga poses can lead to longevity.