What Thai Massage is and is not:
Thai Yoga Massage has a long history of restorative benefit to the receiver (and practitioner). This therapeutic massage evolved from the Buddhist tradition over 2,500 years ago as a form of compassionate healing. The practice has roots in Indian Ayurveda and yoga, Chinese acupuncture and pressure, and Thai culture (where it landed from the north as early as the 3rd or 2nd century B.C.). It differs from Western Massage in that it’s fully clothed and focused on the subtle body and energy lines, not just the physical body.
Although there’s a rampant and devastating amount of human trafficking and sex trade in Thailand, it’s of utmost importance to note that authentic Thai Yoga Massage has nothing to do with sex. It is a prayerful and medicinal art that is full of integrity and kind-hearted intention. If someone were to offer you a Thai Massage with anything sexual- this is NOT the real deal.
All this being said- lovers can apply Thai Yoga Massage principles to relationship to increase spoken and unspoken understanding, improve intimacy and communication, and cultivate deeper connection.
The basic physical love that likely unites most modern coupes is sex. It’s the easiest form of love to attain and the most basic. The next level of love involves attachment forming and probably dependency, which must be balanced with autonomy and support for one another as individuals. Finally there’s what’s beyond what most think of as love: COMPASSION, which is detachment- regardless of ones own desires or expectations. This is the focus of Thai Massage for lovers: compassion in sex, intimacy, relationship and communication.
Intimacy unfolds when one can let go of fear and tension. Shared breath work, partner yoga poses, and Thai Massage techniques open the doorway to depth, intimacy, connection, and intuition- which strengthen a relationship. Release expectation, force, or attachment to results. Give your partner your full attention. Allow yourself to equally receive. Surrender into the stretches and Thai Massage as the receiver. As the giver, listen. Commit to one another to practice with presence, care, attentiveness, respect.
- Trust yourself and take good care of your body. Let your partner know when you need more or less stretch.
- Both parties breathe deeply and completely in each stretch. Relax as best you can.
- Move your partners body slowly and calmly.
- When giving stretches, keep your body well-aligned and relaxed.
Set the Scene:
Turn off the TV, clear out a special nook in your space and time in your schedule, find some music and candlelight to create some sacred space. Explore individually and as a couple what turns you on. You might play around with Ayurvedic aphrodisiacs like Ginger, and Ylang Ylang, make a lickable oil or use a Macca tonic together, try essential oils like Calienta or Luscious from Lunaroma, get book on Kama Sutra, Tantra or lovers yoga poses. Discuss your fantasies but only go so far as you’re each comfortable. Find your union.
Some basic moves:
Begin with the receiver laying in the supine position, arms and legs extended. Remind them to ground into the earth, letting their body become heavy and open to receive. Giver will sit in between the receivers feet, in a kneeling position or hero’s pose. Bringing hands to prayer in front of heart, take a moment to connect with your breath. Notice how you are feeling in your body. Allow yourself to rest here for a moment in stillness before making contact with your partner.
Na A / Na Wa / Roka / Payati / Vinas Santi
We pray for the one whom we touch, that he will be happy and that any illness will be released from him.
*Remember that the use of your body weight is important in this work. Move from your center of gravity rather than from the strength in your hands. This will feel deeper yet still gentle enough for your partner to relax and open to your caring touch!
1.) Using palms of hands, begin by walking up and down the insteps of each foot, rhythmi-cally rocking back and forth. Begin near the heel and stop before you reach the ball of the big toe. Repeat this as many times as you wish, until you feel the feet begin to relax.
2.) Maintaining rocking motion, begin to palm walk up the inside of legs until you reach the knee. With hands cupped gently over knees, make circular motions outward a few times and then continue to palm walk up and back down, making sure to circle the knees in the other di-rection then coming back to rest at the inside of the ankles.
3.) Remaining between receiver’s feet (move back a little to aid angle of delivery) drape fingers slightly over the top of foot as thumbs find themselves of the sole of the feet. Thumb press the sole (simultaneously on both feet) making three lines up with three points each. Do this again on the arch of foot, thumb pressing three points in a line. Pay attention to your partner as you go. Become in tune with what pressure is appropriate for them as this is a sensitive area.
4.) Come back to neutral to work the tops of the feet. Thumb circle in between the tendons of the big and second toe, working from ankle to toe, gently pulling big toe as you reach the top. Continue until you have reached the last toe.
5.) In keeling position, open the soles of the feet by placing the heel of each hand on the ball of each foot. Curl your fingers over their toes and begin to slowly open the soles of their feet by stretching toes back.
6.) Lengthen the tops of the feet by placing your palms on top of your partners feet, close to the ankles, then slowly press down as you lean slightly away. Repeat a few times as you move closer to the toes each time and then release.
7.) Open the ankles and hips. Cup your hands under partners heels. Lift and lengthen the legs by turning the heels out and feet in as you do so. Reposition your hands so that they are on the tops of the feet, leaning in gently with your body weight, lengthen the toes towards each other.
8.) Keeping contact with partner, slightly raise the right foot as you come into a seated L-shaped position underneath their leg. Hold foot with heel resting in the palm of your hand and gently begin to give traction to ankle, pulling back gently. Rotate ankle in both directions as you are giving traction.
9.) Bring foot down and come to side of right leg. Sitting in wide leg kneel, one hand on shin and one on thigh, gently rocking leg back and forth. Bend partners leg so that their knee falls out to side making a tree pose. If knees does not easily reach the ground, you may support with a pillow. Align your body with your partner’s knee. Rocking back and forth gently giving pressure palm walk with top hand only, from the ankle up the inside of calf to knee. Let the second hand follow, meeting at knee. Making a butterfly with hands, heels of hand in center of thigh. Lean your body weight in and out, working from knee to groin and back to knee. Top hand stays at knee and bottom hands works back down to ankle.
10.) Relax the calf. Bring your partners knee upright, placing their foot on the floor. Your knees are on either side of foot and give a gentle squeeze to prevent their foot from slipping. Ladder fingers down and up back of calf; scoop muscle away from bone, alternating hands up and down; palm circles up and down calf.
11.) Butterfly squeeze the quad. Keeping the knee upright, interlace your fingers and place heels of hands on either side of the thigh. Gently squeeze together as you move down and back up the thigh two or three times. Keeping hands in same position squeeze gently just below knee and you pull and lean back. Move foot closer to buttock and repeat over again until foot cannot get closer.
12.) Stretching hamstring. Come into a half kneeling position and with one hand clasped over knee push knee into chest as your other hands grasps foot at the heel. One foot will hold heel as you stretch the leg cross body and gently give rhythmic pressure into the hamstring.
13.) Hip opener I. Coming into a half lunge (you may need to open your stance more here) support their knee as your bring their foot into the crease of your bent leg (hip flexor area). Place your outside hand on the knee and with your inside hand, palm the opposite quad as you are bringing their knee into their chest, sinking gently into the stretch. This can be a wonderful hip opener for both you and your partner! Repeat a few times, working with your breath until you reach a point of resistance.
14.) Hip opener II. Staying in the same half kneeling position, allow partners knee to fall out to the side. Repeat the gentle rocking back and forth, giving pressure to the inside of the thigh. Move up and down 2- 3 times.
15.) Ninety Degrees. Bring bent leg back up and into a 90 degree position. Holding onto the foot with one hand, knee with other, come into a seated position. Keep leg bent at 90 degree, not letting it fall out to the side. Quickly bring your foot to rest behind their knee, on hamstring; Your toes will be pointing out. We use this as a transition pose. Holding foot, gently press into hamstring. Then turn foot to be parallel with hamstring and press while you lean back, gently pulling foot. Bring your foot down to floor and press your toes into their sit bone. Fully extend leg here and lean back as far as feels comfortable for you, giving traction to your partners extended leg.
16.) Paddle Boat. Bring straight leg back into 90 degrees and gently guide leg to fall out to side. Sitting up with your knees slightly bent, hook partners right foot inside the knee of your outer leg. Begin to step or “paddle boat” your feet into their hamstring. You can change the intensity of the stretch by moving further or closer away. Repeat 2-3 times.
17.) Foot sandwich. Take your outer foot and hook under the leg creating a “sandwich” of the thigh with both feet. Pulling gently on ankle, push into hamstring and pull into quad with feet. Move up and down hamstring a few times.
18.) Holding onto ankle gently slide back until their leg is extended. Your outside leg will be underneath their knee and thigh slightly. Give gently rhythmic rocking here holding onto heel and then slide your leg out from underneath.
Repeat steps 8-18 on the other leg
19.) With both legs extended, cups your hands under partners ankles and give gentle rocking, moving hands side to side and back and forth. Give gentle traction pulling back on heels.
20.) Bring partners legs close together and cup under ankles, slowly coming into a standing po-sition with partners legs extended. They may gently lock their knees. Moving one hand to cup the heels, the other hand comes in front of shins. Come into a high lunge as you slowly extend your partners feet towards their head into plough pose, going until you meet resistance. Bring them out slowly as you come to stand as their sacrum, in line with their spine.
21.) Knees to chest. Ask your partner to bend their knees and place the soles of their feet against your kneecaps. Keep your knees together and slightly bent, your feet should be a little wider than hip width. Place your hands on their shinbones and, as you sink your body weight into your knees, simultaneously lean your weight down into your palms. Ease in and out several times, bringing their knees to chest.
22.) Crossed leg stretch. Ask your partner to bend one leg and straighten the other, making a number “4”. As you support the straight leg, come into a low lunge. Let the heel of the straight leg, rest on your inside shoulder. Fix one hand on the ankle of the bent leg and the other on the thigh. below the knee. Rock gently into the straight leg. Palm up and down their thigh of the bent leg. Repeat on other leg.
23.) Ask your partner to roll onto their stomach.
24.) Penguin walk. Stand at your partners feet, facing away from them and step your heels on-to their instep. Shifting your weight back from side to side.
25.) Turn around and come into a high kneeling position between their feet. Palm walk up both legs as the same time, starting from the achilles up to the buttock, being careful not to give any pressure behind the knees. Palm walk back down to ankles and give a little traction to both legs, pulling gently at ankles.
26.) Feet to sacrum. Take both of your partners feet and bring them up so heels touch buttocks, lengthen through the front of the toes. Keep your posture wide and arms straight. Sink your weight onto their feet. You may do this again, crossing feet in front of each other. Remember to switch which foot is on top.
27.) Release one foot back to the floor, guide the bent knee so the foot touches the opposite buttock. You may give palm pressure to the back of the hamstring. Repeat on opposite side. Encourage your partner to remain relaxed and heavy through the front of the hip.
28.) Bend one knee, lift up at the ankle and gently slide your legs under partner’s leg. Find a position that is comfortable for your legs as your partners leg will rest on top of your thighs. Slowly begin to rock partners leg back and forth. Then use elbows and forearms to apply some pressure into the back of legs (avoiding the back of knee). With arms closet to their head, you may apply pressure into the lower back and buttock with your elbow and forearm. Stay here as long as your like and then repeat on other side, coming out the same way your came in.
29.) With partner’s legs both extended, bring your knees to rest into their hamstrings, just below buttocks. Your feet are making contact with the floor. Ask your partner to grasp hold of your wrists as you also grasp their wrists. Ask them to take a deep inhale and exhale and on the next inhale, gently lean back as your pull their wrist; bringing them into a gentle cobra pose. Hold for a few breathes, allowing them so sink into their chest and release.
30.) Come to stand with feet on either side of partners hips. Elephant walk hands up and down either side of spine. At sacrum press down and pull towards you gently. Palm walk down backs of legs reaching feet. Give traction to both legs, pulling feet evenly. Rock legs back and forth working a wave motion up the entire length of their body.
31.) Ask your partner to come into child’s pose. Give gentle pressure to their sacrum. When they are ready, they may come into a kneeling position. Ask them to bring their hands in front of heart. You may bow in divine gratitude to each other.
Sa Wa Dee Kah! Thank you
References for thai massage:
1. Ananda Apfelbaum, Thai Massage, Sacred Bodywork, 2003
2. Harald Brust, The Art of Traditional Thai Massage, 1990
3. Kam Thye Chow, Advanced Thai Yoga Massage, 2011
4. Here’s a link to the school I attend in Thailand (ITM). My teacher (Chongkol Setthakorn, the founder of ITM), produced at great DVD with Thai Massage Instruction: itmthaimassage.com/products.php
5. Here’s a link to the Lotus Palm Thai school in Montreal lotuspalm.com