Thai massage is a type of massage in Thai style that
involves stretching and deep massage.
This form of bodywork is usually performed on the floor, and the client wears comfortable
clothes that allow for movement. No oils are used in Thai massage. It is
known in Thailand as
"nuat phaen boran" (Thai: นวดแผนโบราณ, IPA: [nûət pʰɛ̌ːn boːraːn]),
literally, the ancient-manner massage.
The massage recipient changes into loose, comfortable clothes, and lies on a mat or
firm mattress on the floor. It can be done solo or in a group of a dozen or so
patients in the same large room. The receiver is put into many yoga-like
positions during the course of the massage.
The massage practitioner leans on the recipient's body using hands and usually
straight forearms locked at the elbow to apply firm rhythmic pressure. The massage
generally follows the Sen lines on the body—somewhat analogous to meridians or Channel (Chinese
medicine) and Indian nadis. Legs and
feet of the giver can be used to fixate the
body or limbs of the recipient. In other positions, hands fixate the body, while
the feet do the massaging action. A full Thai massage session typically
lasts two hours or more, and includes rhythmic pressing and stretching of the
entire body; this may include pulling fingers, toes, ears, cracking the knuckles,
walking on the recipient's back, and arching the recipient's into bhujangasana or (cobra
position). There is a standard
procedure and rhythm to this massage.
Generally speaking, practitioners of modern Thai massage operate on the theory that
the body is permeated with "lom," or "air," which is
inhaled into the lungs and which subsequently
travels throughout the body along 72,000 pathways
called "sen," or "vessels." Typically, massage therapists
manipulate a handful of major sen lines by
pressing certain points along the lines. In most models, the
sen originate at the navel and spread throughout the body to terminate
at the orifices. A significant part of the practice of Thai massage also
includes yoga-like stretches which are intended to stimulate the sen and move lom
through the body via a pumping action which is connected with the patient's
The theory of sen and lom is often translated into English as
"meridians" and "energy."
While there are some superficial similarities to Chinese meridian theory, the
Thai system is markedly different as the sen are unconnected from the internal