Did you ever get a massage where everything was technically right, but you felt that the therapist never really connected with you? Something seemed to be missing but you could not put your finger on it. What was it? Was it the therapist or was it you, or both?
Wow, AMAZING Thai Massage!
Many visitors come to Thailand and they are very impressed with Thai Massage because it is so different and it involves all those amazing stretches. If you have nothing to compare it with, then, yes, it seems to be pretty amazing.
But when talking to my fellow expats who have been been in Thailand for a long time, they all agree that it is not so easy to find a therapist who can really make you feel good.
What kind of a Thai Massage session do you prefer?
What is the secret ingredient that is missing in the arsenal of many therapists? Thai Massage is often practiced as a mechanical sequence of techniques.
But when it comes down to it, I’d prefer a session with less technique but with a great touch and great energy any time.
The quantity of techniques are not the secret of a great massage if they don’t succeed to put you into that blissful state where you just drift off into a trance-like state.
Once I went to a local massage shop here in Thailand, and the owner knew that I was practicing and teaching Thai Massage. So she tried to impress me with her skills by throwing every technique that she could think of at me.
In the process she turned the massage session into a mechanical performance and I never got to the point of really relaxing into it. All I had wanted is to relax and feel good. I wanted her energy, not all the tricks in her bag.
What’s your style?
Some people, when they are hungry, go to the next fast food outlet, grab something to go, and eat it while they are driving.
Other people enjoy a more refined eating experience with a healthy meal that is attractively prepared and enjoyed in a relaxed and beautiful setting. We all have done both at times, and both have their place.
Similarly, there are people who go to a massage therapist to get a stiff muscle rubbed and manipulated. They don’t care about a refined experience as long as they get some relief.
Then there are others who don’t have any particular physical problem. They just want a massage in order to experience the wonderful sensation of a sensitive, caring and skilled touch that can put you into a state of pure bliss.
Massage mechanic or massage artist?
Some Thai Massage therapists fall into the category of “massage mechanics”. They have their place and many clients don’t expect any more than that.
Other therapists are real artists and healers. They know the techniques, but they are able to add the elements of energy, connection and feeling to it.
Client know thyself!
As clients we have to know what we are looking for. Do we just want to get that muscle rubbed or is our intention to go to massage heaven for an hour? Not many therapists can deliver the latter.
If you want the massage heaven but you go to a massage mechanic, you will be disappointed.
Many of us expats here in Thailand had to look long and hard before we found a therapist who is just the right match for what we are looking for.
The secret is to be clear what kind of experience we are looking for, finding someone who is the right match for that, and finally communicating clearly what it is we want.
I went back to that massage shop owner who had thrown all her techniques at me and I told her that I just wanted a simple massage so that I could relax. She breathed a sigh of relief and said: “Oh, you just want to relax? Sure, I can do that. I thought you wanted some fancy treatment.”
It took the pressure to perform off her, she could be herself without trying to impress me, I got what I wanted, and we were both happy.
The author, Shama Kern, has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage for 2 decades. He is the founder and director of Thai Healing Massage Academy and the creator of 20 Thai Massage online training courses.