Some people may wonder: What is this thing about traditional Thai massage? Could they only get authentic Thai massage from the country that bears its name or from any service that promises one? If so, is there such a thing as modern Thai massage, too?
Undoubtedly, there is Thai massage. But identifying its form is like figuring out which of the Catholics, Protestants, Mormons and Born Agains could only call themselves Christians. There is northern Thai massage, southern Thai massage, and royal Thai massage, among others. Some of them even observe other modes of Asian healing arts, and pass it as another form.
Theravada Buddhists practice Thai massage. They are the monks in Asian monasteries who draw scriptural inspiration from the Tipitaka, a collection of Buddha’s teachings in Pali. If not for Thai massage, they wouldn’t understand how to be selfless (metta).
Thai massage is also a component of a 2,500-year-old method of natural healing known as Thai medicine. Developed when Thailand is still referred to as Siam, Thai medicine is woven into the spiritual tenets of Buddhism. With the dominance of Theravada Buddhists in Thailand, as well as the prevalence of Buddhism in that country, Thai massage in Thailand is unalike the Thai massage offered in other countries. Every session here could last for three hours, and emphasis on the abdomen is applied.
The vitality of one’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth depends on the health of the abdominal organs and the flow of bioenergy through and away from the abdomen. Thai massage assures this through the light and deep strokes performed clockwise in the abdomen.
In the West, therapists there tend to combine techniques of other massage styles. Many have actually incorporated Thai massage with Swedish massage. Some had adopted yoga postures, varying on the medical condition of the patient (i.e., certain stretches of the back and legs would be avoided for individuals with lumbar disc problems). It could also treat musculoskeletal problems, internal medical problems, neurological complaints and emotional distress resulting in structural alignment, increased flexibility, and decreased muscular and joint tension.