Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Traditional Thai Massage

Its time to take a breath.

Each week now I either give a massage or receive one.

After a long weekend of work I am so grateful to have the chance to get a massage from my friend Corrie. Years ago I contacted Corri and began the most wonderful friendship. We both are trained in Thai Massage and we worked out an arrangement to trade massage on a weekly basis. There were a few years there where we let the habit slip, but its back in action and such a wonderful part of my life.

Corri is awesome (if you are local and need a massage - she is a practicing LMT - check out her website Splendid Tranquility) and its fun to get together with her and make each other feel good. Last night she came over and gave me a thai massage. My body says a big THANK YOU.

If you have ever had a Traditional Thai Massage you know what I am talking about! :) This type of body work is similar to having someone do yoga to your body. It is an ancient and spiritual art, opening up the energy lines and freeing blockage from our systems. I have lots of knots to work on. I find the world to be very stressful right now, especially financially, and this makes me tense.

I studied Thai massage in Philadelphia at the Druya Network, working on my college buddies (lucky them!) to accumulate the 100 hours of practice I needed to complete the course. Then when I had certification I worked on a handful of clients there in Philly... it was a pretty good job, better than being a waitress (my other college job) although I found that most times I was scheduled to give a massage I felt like getting one! :) Self indulgent me! Also I much prefer working on my close personal friends, its such a pleasure to do so!

After moving to Portland, I no longer could maintain this casual side-job because Oregon rules mandate that I also complete the normal massage therapy training (Swedish Deep Tissue type work and another 100+hours of practice and $$ on courses) and pay for a state license, otherwise it is illegal for me to practice. In Philly my license in Thai massage and completion of certification was all I needed. In Oregon my 3 licenses (pictured on the left) are useless as far as the law is concerned.

While I don't have any passion to become a professional massage therapist (I love being a glass artist), I adore this modality and it fills a wonderful little nook of my life.

I traveled to Thailand in 2000 and took all the certification classes again at the Old Traditional Hospital in Chiang Mai, as well as a course in reflexology and acupressure from a monk at Wat Po.

Back in Philly I was taught this Sanskrit prayer that went along with the traditions. It was a goal of mine to one day make it to Thailand and hear Thai people say this prayer, I craved the glory of the audible experience. And then to finally have this in Thailand a few years later was really funny! I wish I had been able to record it. The Thai people literally sing the prayer, the words are as sing-song to them as it was to me (I had overlooked the obvious fact that Thai people do not speak Sanskrit!!). But they say this prayer at the Traditional Hospital twice a day every day, so they really enjoy the process, some of them belt it out like a Hymn at church. Its awesome.

My study at the Old Traditional Hospital was one of the most indulgent and incredible months of my life. 3 weeks of Thai pampering: great food, massage, ginger tea, sunset get-togethers, late night drinking sessions and early morning prayers before class. It was complete bliss, I'd highly recommend the experience to anyone. I filled a whole little book with delicious stories of the things that I experienced there. It was simply out-of-this-world AMAZING.

pictured below is a poster illustrating the energy lines as the Traditional Thai Medicine describes (its very similar to Traditional Chinese Medicine chi lines, the Thai system simply has 10 where the Chinese system has hundreds)
So today, years later, I still chant the Sanskrit prayer from time to time when I need to get focused, it soothes my bubbling brain. And my massage training has become like this secret skill of mine - I can do the most amazing massage. Seriously, I'm not even bragging, its the massage itself, it takes hours and its awesome. Oh and don't even get me started on the foot massage that I learned from the Monk - its just heaven. Life seems to be so depressing sometimes, but massage is just bliss.


Curly Girl Glass said...

nice post! my friend gave me a gift massage at a local spa - I NEED to use it soon. It's not Thai though.

Stephanie said...

I came across your blog while doing a search for "traditional Thai massage" and was suprised that you are in Portland,Or. It's a bummer that you are not able to practice Thai massage here, I think Thai massage is a league of its own and if you have had the proper training you should be able to practice, but I guess the law is the law. I am a Thai massage practitioner in Portland, Or. and am amazed every time that I give a Thai massage session just how beneficial it is. I get excellent results with my clients and absolutely love giving. If you ever want to trade hit me up! I think I might have to check out Splendid Tranquility too, looks like it's just around the corner from me!