Thai Massage School

Thai Massage School

What Is Thai Massage?

Massage is such a versatile art that it is unsurprising that “new” techniques create interest among those who study and practice massage.

The demand for Thai massage has continued to increase in the past several years, causing many to ask if there are dedicated Thai massage schools or even specialized programs and training within more traditional massage schools.

In the truest sense of the word, Thai “massage” has very little in common with practices generally taught in the U.S. Instead, it is a healing art that is closely related to yoga. Most Thai massage schools will teach ráksãa thaang nûat, which is a healing treatment.

It extends beyond touching to include intention and mindfulness, as well. The manual portion of the process might include deep stretches, compression, rocking, and rhythmic exercises. Each of these acts works to help transfer the Four Boundless States of Mind: Love, Compassion, Joy, and Equinimity.

The Intricacies of Thai Massage

The culture of Thailand has been influenced by a variety of people and nations throughout history. The result has been an incredibly deep culture that hints at experiences with China, India, and other lands. Beautiful colors, rich fabrics, and stylized movements all combine to create a beautiful form of dance that is a tradition all of its own.

Like Thai dancing, Thai massage involves specialized movements and poses. These work together to relax and refresh the client. The massage therapist assists the client by utilizing poses and pressure in order to combine acupressure and stretching exercises. All of this is done in relation to ancient Buddhist traditions in order to bring about well being in both the client and the practitioner.

Training in the United States and Beyond

There are not many true Thai massage schools in the U.S., although some programs will offer training in this specialized approach. These are sometimes referred to as “Thai Bodywork” programs. Many students choose to actually travel all the way to Thailand to learn the practice in its birthplace.

Bangkok offers many opportunities to learn the more rigorous Southern style approach to Thai massage, while those interested in the gentler Northern style may consider studying in Chiang Mai.

In many cases, those already certified as massage therapists will learn Thai massage in pursuit of continuing education credits or as a way to expand their own practices. It can be a challenging learning experience for those who have studied western styles of massage, however, because the approach is very different.

In fact, it has sometimes humorously been called “yoga for lazy people,” because the therapist helps to arrange the client and offers pressure and weight to create the stretches.

Thai massage schools are often licensed by the Royal Thai Ministries of Health and Education. As of 2008, there are standards for recognition for Thai massage practitioners who choose to be members of the International Thai Therapists Association.

Levels include: affiliate member, recognized student, recognized novice Thai practitioner, recognized basic Thai practitioner, certified Thai practitioner, certified advanced Thai practitioner, certified Thai therapists, certified master Thai practitioner, certified Thai facilitator, certified Thai instructor, certified Thai instructor advanced, certified master Thai instructor, and institutional and/or school member. The level of an individual is based on his or her training, practice, and experience.

Utilizing a Thai Massage School Education

Thai massage was not really even available in the United States until about the 1980s, but it has continued to gain interest since its arrival. Each year, it seems that more and more clients are appreciating the benefits of the yoga-type experience that typifies this practice.

While private practitioners have certainly been able to find an audience for this type of massage, it is also growing in popularity in spas across the nation. In can be combined with other treatments to create an overall positive experience and relaxing spa day. In Thailand, a massage may be combined with traditional herbal treatments, for example.

Additionally, Thai massage is also being combined with various western approaches in order to treat pain and other physical dysfunction. Because there are so few Thai massage schools, it is not unusual for students to travel from all over the world to enroll in a particular course or workshop.

As the field continues to grow, it is likely that so will the applications for the knowledge. This increase in interest means that there will be more and more reasons to consider creating additional programs and to introduce more dedicated Thai massage schools in the U.S.