THE ART OF ANCIENT Thai Massage is becoming more and more popular around the world. The reasons for learning Thai Massage vary according to the individual, but some common motivations that have surfaced. Including a wish to work with people who need massage therapy in their home countries, people such as the elderly and the handicapped; a desire to practice Thai Massage in their own countries as a small business or as part of a larger health operation; an interest in the mechanics of Thai Massage as a basis for overall physical conditioning and well-being; and, a particular interest in Thai Massage not only as a health practice that aids others, but also as one that requires them as practitioners to develop excellent body tone, balance and control. Some people, of course, enroll in Thai Massage classes in Chiangmai simply as an activity because they want to be involved in something tangible while they're here.
All of these are reasons well-founded when it comes to the actual learning of Thai Massage.The instruction focuses on both mind and body control of the practitioner as he or she develops into a masseur through study and a great deal of practice. The student is required to learn the art in a meditative work mode; sensitivity to individual patients on both a physical and mental level; concentration on the body as a systematic unit comprised of energy lines, pressure points, muscles, joints and sensitive bone area; and awareness of his or her own body as a balanced tool through which appropriate pressure is applied to activate the good health of the patient.
The range of Thai Massage applications is enormous and in the later stages of learning they become quite complex. The student is taught all and given plenty of time and opportunity to learn through practice. Diagram books are provided for students to trace and learn the intricate body parts and their relationships to the wide variety of Thai Massage applictions that they will learn in the process of the course. These are then put into actual practice and the student spends up to six hours a day in practice.
Among the most important mechanical applications are various types of palm presses and thumb presses, thumb and finger circles, palm circles and various other techniques. In learning this work, the instructors in Chiangmai treat each section as a complete program, and while some of the intricate steps of the Thai Massage may be combined in one instruction the students are taught to treat the entire body. No body section is overlooked or skipped over because it might have been covered, in a previous section. Rather that section is approached from a different angle and therefore from a different physical point of view. One reason Thai Massage is taught this way is that it often must be performed that way. For example, while a part of the leg areas can be treated while the patient is in a prone position on the back, other parts of the legs can only be appropriately worked from a side position, for example. Thus, what seems like a repetition, on the surface, is actually a thorough working of the body.
A very important part of the instruction and one that is as beneficial to the student as it is to the patient is body flexibility. Much of what you learn has to do with your own body movements in applying Thai Massage to others, and these movements are emphasized almost from the very beginning of your course. You are taught to avoid rigidity in your own body so that your application of massage will be smooth and flexible. Flexibility is of utmost importance and is an essential element of Thai Massage, because you as the future masseur will be required to have an open mind and a flexible body in order to be open to new experiences and individual patient needs. In effect, the goal is to make sure that every student finds his or her own best way of applying the many and complex sections of Thai Massage to the individual patients.
Developing your own body mechanics is another important feature. As you learn Thai Massage you'll begin to realize that it is much like a dance. Like any dancer you will need to learn not only the steps but also how to use you body to express the steps. In order to do this you are taught, and encouraged, to develop your own body mechanics, your own physical flexibility and agility. Three primary aspects of your own body mechanics are emphasized in the Thai Massage course. They are "Never Hurt Yourself", "Learn to Use Your Own Body Weight Effectively", and "Protect your Knees".
The first of these is a cardinal rule of Thai Massage, for if you are reckless with your own body, how can one be sure you won't be reckless with another's ? From the very beginning of your instruction, if a particular movement is causing you pain, you should stop. You should not push yourself, as is often done in various types of exercise, but realize that either the movement is not being done correctly or something in your own body mechanics is not right. Take a few moments analyze yourself and see if you can use your position or body weight in a more effective way.
The second aspect is crucial to all aspects of Thai Massage. How to use your body weight effectively is essential because Thai Massage does not make use of muscle power. It makes use, rather, of body weight and body balance. This becomes easier if you are already in relatively good physical condition. Use of body weight can best be controlled and applied by keeping your shoulders relaxed and low and your elbows straight -- this provides the necessary position for equal and balanced body weight distribution as you apply pressure to the patient's body parts.
The third aspect, "Protect Your Knees", is crucial because a grest deal of Thai Massage is done with you, the masseur, in a kneeling position or using your knees for balance on a mat. Persons with good, strong knees should not disregard this feature but rather take care in moving along and across the mat. Those with knee problems do not have to disqualify themselves; merely use a pillow or a pad in addition to the soft mat upon the which the Thai Massage is given.
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