Could a Thai massage be the answer I’ve been looking for? That is, a relaxing way to stretch but with someone else doing the work? I’m not a fan of stretching (although I recognize it’s beneficial). I often get bored and restless (what can I say, I’m impatient by nature), and also, I view my workout as my run itself, and when I’m done running, I just want to hop my sweaty body into the shower and be done with my workout, not prolong it all with stretches. I realize this is the wrong way to view stretching — please don’t follow suit! I’m terribly, terribly inflexible since I rarely stretch.
But Thai massage would help stretch me, right? Since Thai massage therapy was launched a few months ago at the Miraj Caudalie Hammam and Spa at the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto, and I was invited to try it out, I was very eager to learn what it was all about. At the time, I was in the midst of training for spring races so I felt like it was a great time to test it out and learn more about it. Here’s what I learned:
What to expect in the treatment room and what to wear for Thai massage? The first difference you’ll notice about a Thai massage is that there is no massage table; instead there is a Thai yoga mat on the floor (think thicker and covering a wider area than a typical yoga mat). Also, there are no lotions or oils used in this type of massage. And finally, rather than strip down to your skivvies as you would for a Swedish massage, you are fully clothed for a Thai massage. At the Shangri La, they recommend loose, comfortable clothing you can easily move around in (I’d forgotten a set of clothes, but the spa was able to loan me some leisure gear for my treatment).
What are the roots of Thai massage? It’s a healing art form based along what are called energy or sen lines, explained Celia Au of the Miraj Caudalie Spa. “These energy lines are closely following the circulatory system, and so when you work along these energy lines, a couple of things happen. Energy lines can be blocked, and some people may hold a lot of stress and anxiety and when having these compressions during a Thai massage and working along sen lines, they unblock these energy channels, balancing out the energy levels,” explained Celia. As such, your Thai massage can be a relaxing treatment but it can also be energizing treatment with psychological benefits as well.
What movements can you expect in Thai massage? Rather than the long, slow strokes you know from Swedish massage, the movements in a Thai massage are gentle and incorporate compression and flowing exercise movements. If you do yoga, you’ll likely recognize many movements as being similar to yoga postures. “It has been called the lazy man’s way of doing yoga,” said Celia. But don’t give up your yoga class just yet. While the movements are similar, the therapist is doing it for you. On the one hand, this can be good for you (Because the therapist is putting you into your stretch, you can allow yourself to completely relax and focus on your breathing). Compare this to a yoga class where you may be focusing on your balance and your core, or lengthening your spine.
What benefits can you expect from Thai massage? It will get blood flowing to your muscles amd increase your mobility. “When yo u’re doing a rocking motion, for example, you’re actually lubricating the joint and that’s where the integrity of the stretch comes into play,” says Celia. And depending on the type of practice, the breathing is a meditative part of the treatment. “It improves of your own breath; the breathing and rhythmic movement during treatment almost puts you in a trance-like form.”
Who would benefit from Thai massage? “It’s beneficial for anyone, but I would say for someone who’slooking to increase range of motion, or who wants to familiarize themselves with stretching, or someoen who wants to try yoga. Also, someone who’s very active, such as an athlete, since a lot of the time they can have a build up of lactic acid in muscles, and they get tight with activity and it can help having someone stretch them,” says Celia. She says people who old a lot of anxiety or who are looking for mental clarify can benefit from the treatment as well. Above all, she says to come try it with an open mind. “Some people might think it’s too active a massage for them, but it’s actually slow movements.”
1 Comment August 10, 2015