By: Emilie McKay, RMT
Emilie is a registered massage therapist at Body Poets Massage Therapy and, as of recently, a Thai massage enthusiast.
It has been a few weeks now, but the effects have lasted. My first Thai massage was an experience perfectly described as a balance between complete relaxation and complete body awareness. How could that even be? On reflection, I found many elements that helped make the Thai massage a therapeutic and nurturing experience, and I’d really like to share them.
I didn’t know much about Thai massage prior to my treatment. I knew the differences it has from Swedish massage – you remain fully clothed, the treatment is performed on floor mats – and I knew some key similarities between the two types of massage – stress reduction, increased mobility, decreased muscle tension – but I still didn’t have a full understanding of the therapy in my head. I knew I had to experience it first-hand (pun intended) to truly grasp the concept.
My Thai massage therapist was my colleague, Crystal Veinot, RMT. As we began, I sat cross-legged on the mat, and the smooth music and ambient lighting brought my mind into a space of relaxation. But then a thought popped into my head. How on earth am I going to keep this posture up? I must confess – I don’t always have good posture (I’m working on it!). My shoulders gravitate inwards and my back begins to arch. I was a little worried. How was I supposed to relax when I was trying to keep myself in a position not favourable to my body?
Enter Crystal. One of the first things she did in the treatment was place her hip along my spine and her bent knee beside me. Then she gently took my arm and draped it over her bent knee. There I rested – upright, in great posture, but completely relaxed. At that moment, I knew I was in good hands.
As I dozed in and out of the rest of the treatment, I began to notice my own restrictions (I guess we all have them). Shoulder imbalances that I wasn’t aware of came to the forefront of my mind. The passive movement of Thai massage let me feel what it is like to move my body without contracting muscles. It unearthed underlying restrictions that were masked by my muscular contraction. Not only did it unearth these restrictions, but it helped release them. As the treatment went on, I could feel my shoulders becoming more open and which movements encouraged them to do so.
As my treatment ended, I had a sense of mobility and structure. Crystal and I talked about the treatment and what we found in regards to limitations. We also talked about how I can improve those limitations and what to be more aware of as I go through the day-to-day. All in all, it was a great treatment. A few weeks later, I am still feeling that mobility and am tuning in to postural habits that are causing those imbalances.
I would definitely recommend a Thai massage for those who want to fully experience movement. By taking out the table factor, Thai massage can bring the body into planes of movement not easily addressed with Swedish massage. It was a great experience and I can’t wait for my next one.