What is holistic Thai Massage therapy?
‘Holistic’ means that it addresses the whole person, not just an isolated part. Human beings are not just physical bodies, but they consist of several elements – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
Modern medical science tends to break the human constitution down into isolated elements. First it focuses primarily on the physical body, largely excluding the emotional, mental, and spiritual elements.
Then it again narrows its focus on small areas of the body where there is problem – a manifestation or symptom of disease.
Often doctors totally disregard other areas of the human constitution and condition, like nutrition, exercise, mental health, relationships, belief patterns, attitudes, or social factors.
Non-holistic massage therapy
Let’s look at non-holistic massage. This is a reflection of modern medical science. The therapist is only concerned with the physical body, and works primarily on symptoms. In other words, if it hurts in a specific area, let’s press and rub there.
This is still valuable and beneficial. It can definitely help a client. But it is not a holistic treatment, and therefore misses out on many ways to help a client.
Holistic Thai Massage therapy
Now let’s look at holistic massage therapy. I will focus on Thai Massage which is my specialty. Not all Thai Massage schools teach in a holistic way. Therefore I will specifically focus on Thai Massage as it is taught and practiced by Thai Healing Massage Academy.
As already mentioned, there is more to the human constitution than just a body – there are physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual elements. Let’s define these in a simplified way so that we can apply them to Thai Massage therapy.
Defining the holistic elements of humans
Holistic health and well-being include many elements. We cannot directly influence all of them through Thai Massage, but we can influence some of them directly, and some of them indirectly. Let’s look at four of these elements.
These are obviously very simple definitions, but they will serve us without going too much into detail. Note that ‘spiritual’ is not the same as ‘religious’.
How to apply holistic elements in Thai Massage
Thai Massage does not just treat symptoms in a physical body. Instead it focuses on the well-being of the entire system – that’s the holistic approach.
So how is this done? Let’s go through the list of the above-mentioned elements.
This one is pretty obvious. All the Thai Massage techniques work on the physical body.
However there is more to it. Some other elements that affect the body are nutrition, exercise, lifestyle habits, breathing, and posture.
Thai Massage can directly help with postural issues. A good therapist can get clues about a client’s life by asking the right questions about the other factors.
For example, let’s say you find out that a client has a terrible diet, never exercises, ruins their posture with high heels, and is a shallow breather because of a lack of awareness or a collapsed posture.
In such a case part of the therapy could be to make the client aware that some or all of these lifestyle habits are causing their symptoms, and that no amount of massage will ‘fix’ them unless they address what is causing their issues.
Massage therapists might not be nutritionists or psychologists or yoga instructors, but they can definitely suggest some common sense solutions to their clients in all these areas.
Without this approach, you are just working on symptoms, and there is no holistic element in your therapy. Remember, ‘holistic’ means to work on all levels of the human constitution, not just on the symptoms of the physical body.
Of course not all clients will listen and apply your suggestions, but that doesn’t mean you should not try when you feel it is appropriate and the client seems receptive.
It also means that it helps if the therapist has some basic knowledge in all these areas, and it helps if the therapist is a living example of good lifestyle habits.
That’s why learning Thai Massage is not just a mechanical process, but also a vehicle for self improvement.
Thai Massage can release negative emotions and improve a client’s outlook on life.
Some examples of negative and disease-causing emotions are anger, hatred, fear, boredom, frustration, and dissatisfaction with life, career, or relationships.
Obviously these emotions or feelings won’t just disappear just because someone gets a Thai Massage session. They took a long time to grow, and they will take time to reduce.
But they can be affected by Thai Massage therapy. This is done in various ways. One way is by stimulating and balancing the energy household in the body via the sen line therapy.
Another way is through abdominal therapy which can be very effective in releasing stuck emotions. The reason is that many people bottle up their emotions in their abdomen.
A third way is by changing the client’s cell memory. Thai Massage therapy can release tension, stuck memories, old trauma, and harmful emotions on a cellular level.
In other words, it can release negative cell memory and change it to a new, more positive version of relaxation which results in letting go, stress and trauma release, and positive expectation.
Disease is often a reflection and manifestation of underlying thought patterns, attitudes, judgments, rigid ways of thinking, and self-defeating concepts.
Thai Massage therapy is not just a way of physically working on a body. Effective therapy has to go a lot deeper. The therapist needs to be able to find out what might cause a problem. This can be done with good communication skills.
Personally, I have often seen ‘aha moments’ in clients when I guided them to possible root causes of their conditions. Many times I have also been able to uncover limiting beliefs that prevented them from healing.
This is not something that you will learn in basic Thai Massage training, but with more advanced skills and plenty of experience this can be learned.
Let’s not confuse ‘spiritual’ with religion. You might want to re-read the definition earlier in this article. Spirituality does not depend on a religion or a culture or a country or a set of rules.
Spirituality is an expression (or the cause) of a holistic outlook on life. Let’s add some specifics to our definition since the term ‘spiritual’ is often misinterpreted. Here are some examples of spiritual characteristics in life:
- Unites instead of divides
- Uses kindness instead of aggression
- Loves instead of hates
- Understands instead of judges
- Sees the bigger picture instead of individual components
- Heals instead of hurts
- Sees deeper instead of just the surface
- Recognizes the essence of all beings instead of their race, color, or religion
- Establishes connections based on energy instead of political correctness or cultural rules.
What do spiritual qualities have to do with Thai Massage?
Quite a bit, actually – the more of them Thai Massage therapists possess, the better they will be able to work in a holistic way, the more sensitive they will be, and the more they will be able to transmit healing energy to their clients.
This means that Thai Massage is not just a technical skill. It is also a process of personal development. Really good and effective therapists have many of these qualities.
The essence of Thai Massage therapy
It can be used in several ways: As a general relaxation session, as a way to increase flexibility, or to improve disease conditions.
The latter one is where you find the most effective and profound application of this art. That’s where you find it’s true holistic essence.
At this level you combine all the holistic elements which we discussed above into an effective treatment for your clients.
You apply the techniques, you communicate effectively, you sense with your hands, you transmit energy, and you intuitively read your client’s body and mind. The result can be profound healing in your clients.
This healing is just as holistic as the treatments. It is not just an improvement in the symptoms, but it can improve a client’s emotional and mental states, and it can improve and balance their energy.
How to learn Thai Massage in a holistic way
I could tell you lots of stories and case studies where such changes happened with my clients and the clients of our students. But the best way to see them is to learn Thai Massage yourself or improve your skills in it.
Here at Thai Healing Massage Academy we specialize in online training which focuses on holistic therapy.
We have lots of Thai Massage training courses where you can learn the entire system along with many specialized therapeutic skills.
Visit Thai Healing Massage Academy’s online training library with 20 Thai Massage courses for all your training needs and all levels of skills.
The author, Shama Kern, has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage for over two decades. He is the founder of Thai Healing Massage Academy and the creator of 20 online Thai Massage training courses.