On the occasion of my 4th time in Chiang Mai, since 2018, I am dedicating this post to Thai Massage in Pichest Boonthumme Style.
In March 2018, I started studying and practising Thai Massage.
I came here to Chiang Mai, to see Pichest Boonthumme, after a friend’s recommendation.
I was looking into finding someone, that could teach and share a massage technique, not only based on sequence and repetitive movement.
As often happens, as long as you ask, what you are looking for will show up.
And now, after 3 long years of the Covid pandemic and limitations on travelling, I am back in Chiang Mai.
This is my first trip out of Australia since 2019, so it was a good way to celebrate the freedom of travelling, once again.
Being back at Pichest Thai Massage School is always challenging.
Even though I spent the last 3 years training for Remedial Massage, Myotherapy and MLD when you come here, there is always something new to learn.
Along with that new practice, there is always the aspect of the Thai/Buddhist philosophy on how to see things.
I did really like the way Pichest, with his limited English, is able to explain the complex way life can present and shape, and how simple is to learn how to deal with it.
Just observe the breath.
Well, no surprise I would say, as this is the principle of Vipassana Meditation itself.
Said so, what most often happens, for people who come here to study with Pichest is that they ask to learn how to breathe, even before they can receive a massage.
Many people come here because they heard of how good Pichest is at giving massages. And they all come with the expectation to get fixed.
And it is just hilarious to see how Pichest, every time, turn these people away from treatment and asks them to learn how to breathe.
In fact, we are used to thinking of Thai Massage as a painful approach, a strong technique, and it is.
But not because we are physically suffering means we are getting better.
If we can’t deal with the pain, if we stop breathing as we perceive that pain, we just keep creating tension in the body and we are not going to let the healing process happens.
Breathing during a massage comes with a series of benefits:
- helps the blood to be pushed around
- Oxygenation of the muscle tissues
- Improve relaxation
- Helps in dealing with the pain reproduced by the touch of a tense area
- Stimulates the Vagus Nerve, which controls the parasympathetic nervous system
On the other hand, before we start doing deep work on the body, the patient does better take 5 minutes to practice breathing, and the first area to work would be around the posterior portion of the shoulder and the hip or Tibia area, to stimulates the blood flow within the body.
In conclusion, Thai Massage as we know it in the west is a bit of a distortion of the real thing. Thai Massage, as with any deep tissue massage, can replicate pain, but the pain has to be a good pain, not sharp. The pain must help to release tensions, and not increase them.
And to be a Thai Massage therapist, you better know your anatomy really well.