Traditional Thai Massage

Bob Haddad (right) with students. Photo by Stefan Peters.

Thai massage, a balanced blend of physical, energetic and spiritual healing techniques and concepts, is a skillful combination of applying broad and targeted acupressure; finding and dissolving blockages in the network of energy lines that run through the body; opening and toning the body with yoga-like stretches; and allowing and encouraging the receiver to engage in a process of self-healing, relaxation and renewal.

At its essence, Thai massage is a spiritual healing art, not just a physical therapy. In Thailand, massage (nuad) belongs to one of the branches of Thai medicine, which incorporates Buddhist healing principles. Individualized holistic treatment is at the heart of the traditional Thai medicine system. An accomplished therapist “listens” to the body of the client to sense energy flow and blockages. Relying on intuition, sensitivity and stillness to guide him or her through the treatment, work should always be carried out slowly and in a meditative way, encouraging silence.

To help bodyworkers, massage therapists and the general public understand the depths of traditional Thai healing arts, Findhorn Press has recently released Thai Massage & Thai Healing Arts, by Bob Haddad, RTT. The book contains a wealth of information about Thai culture and spirituality, and presents a deep insight into the powerful healing modality known today as traditional Thai massage.

Topics include ways to refine and maintain a healthy practice, breathwork and body mechanics, energy release, self-protection techniques, how to read body language, acupressure concepts, and Thai element theory. The spiritual and cultural section covers ancient historical texts, Indian and Buddhist influences, magic amulets and sacred tattoos, and Thai healing traditions such as tok sen (hammering therapy) and reusi dat ton (self-stretching techniques). The final section features essays about practice with clients, written by a wide variety of therapists from around the world.

Bob Haddad, RTT, has studied traditional Thai massage since 1999, mostly in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He is the founder of Thai Healing Alliance International (THAI), and teaches workshops internationally.

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