Save Water (and time) with Thai Massage

Save Water (and time) with Thai Massage

Massage therapists: Did you know that a Thai Massage session requires half the sheets that a table massage does? (Thai on the mat, client fully dressed = one flat sheet, one pillowcase. Table massage =  one flat, one fitted, one pillowcase/face-cradle cover.) That means half the laundry, saving you time and money, and… this saves hot water, laundry detergent, and all of the resources that go into the sheets themselves. Unless we are buying organic cotton sheets, that can add up to lots of pesticides, herbicides, & other nasty chemicals that go (or don’t go) right into our land and water. More costs go into labor and shipping, as most cotton comes from overseas. Don’t you wish they’d come up with some other packaging besides those plastic zippered bags (petroleum) for new sheets? How many clients do you see per week? per year? How much laundry do you wash per week? Dry? I’ve already waxed poetic about my outdoor clothesline, and in winter I try and air-dry my massage sheets indoors. This requires major organization on my part (& doesn’t always happen) in my tiny house. But, I try. I feel that to keep my business running in a way that reflects my commitment to a diverse and abundant bunch of ecosystems on earth, I should use minimal natural resources. I love that I get to make these choices as a small-business owner. Being the boss rocks. I fell in love with Thai massage having no idea that it would cut my laundry in half. It was just a bonus. In Indiana, we are in the midst of an extreme drought, and Bloomington just issued an Emergency Water Restriction Order. I feel a tiny bit better about my water consumption via washing machine each time I have a day full of Thai bodywork sessions. I think of conservation as an exciting and fun part of the healing arts. We share this beautiful planet! How are you conserving in your practice? Let’s share ideas. We’re all in this together....

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Bring on the New Age Music

Bring on the New Age Music

I’ve had new age music pouring into my ears 30 hours a week for the last eleven years. My non-massage therapist friends cringe when I say this out loud. I get it. Bad new age music is as awful as bad pop music, and the good stuff doesn’t always make it to the masses. This is so unfortunate. Music and sound can be healing. Please visit The Healing Music Organization to find out more about the science and art behind this. “Certain types of sounds and music have a proven effect in creating states of relaxation, balance, healing and visualization. Generally these include certain types of lyrical, flowing melodies and chord arrangements. Certain of these arrangements can create an atmosphere of peace, mystery, awe and openness.” ~Dr. Jeffrey Thompson When I was a kid, I cherished this floppy 45 record of humpback whale songs that came with my parents’ June 1975 edition of National Geographic. It came out the month & year I was born! My family had cabinets full of old Nat Geo’s & I thought for sure that my discovery meant the whales were reaching out to me across time and space, so that I, tiny sensitive quiet girl that I was, could crack their code and help other humans to finally understand what they were saying. I spent a lot of time listening to this poor little record, and I also noticed that I felt really calm and happy when I did. I’m not sure I cracked their code, but I certainly enjoyed the resonance & mystery of their sounds. Fast-forward to college: my local NPR station played (& maybe still does?) two new-agey/ambient music shows on Sunday evenings: Hearts of Space & Echoes. Weekly, I would veg out to these shows, maybe reading, maybe allowing my mind to drift off into space with the floaty music. It felt amazing, and like I was recharging my whole system with the aid of this gorgeous soundtrack. Once I became a massage therapist, I was aware that there was powerful sound and music out there. I would get a little peeved if therapists (or classrooms) were not consciously choosing high-quality music. I think if something is going to be filling the ‘sound space,’ it may as well be helpful and brilliant. All art is subjective…. I’m not a musician, but I know when an album begins to grate on my nerves, or feel stale. I know when I, or my clients drop into a deeply meditative state encouraged or enhanced by music. I can usually feel it when the music is slightly jarring or agitating to an otherwise unwinding nervous system. I’ve noticed that each client at any...

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For the Love of a Clothesline

For the Love of a Clothesline

I love hanging sheets out on my clothesline. You would think laundry would be a dreaded chore: I wash around five sets of sheets a week for work. Each massage client = one set of twin sheets with pillowcases and/or face-cradle covers. The washing is done in a machine, and when I can, I let the sun and wind do the drying. I look forward to the break in my day that is hanging sheets fresh from the wash. The barefoot walk from my dryer through the backyard grass can tell me so much about the moment of the day: damp and cool on a spring morning, scratchy with dry dirt clods underfoot in heat of summer. Indiana is already in a drought this year & rough on bare feet, among other things. The other day I looked out and thought “Well, at least the sheets will dry quickly.” We are in mid-summer in Indiana, and a Mama Robin has a nest of babies tucked in an S-curve on one of our gutter downspouts. The babies and their ever-open beaks peek a little higher over the nest by the day, and Mama Robin seems to have a suitor (Daddy Robin? or friend) that wants to help out by bringing snacks. He sits and serenades the whole family, worm or bug in beak, from the nearby Redbud tree, hoping they’ll invite him over. Hanging the sheets sends me into the backyard, at least for a few minutes, every day. I get a glimpse of how plants are changing, growing, ripening, decaying, and possibly a reminder that I ought to be out there more. Neighbor cats cruise back and forth on invisible highways, sometimes ignoring me completely (if they’re on a mission), sometimes coming over for backyard kitty massages. During the cooler months, a breeze will quicken the slower drying time, and I’ve been known to let the sheets freeze on the line. Sheet-popcicles. I get a little kick out of folding icy sheets into bundles small enough to fit into the dryer when I’ve finally given in. It helps my southern soul feel like I can tackle the mid-western winter. Something about the mathematical organization of five sets of sheets on the four-sided, umbrella-style line makes for a satisfying accomplishment. Flat sheets go on the outer rings with the most width and height, fitted sheets a few rungs inside, pillowcases & face-cradle covers stay to the shorter lines on the inside. It soothes me to get them all hung and smoothed out. I always feel like I’ve passed the test of fitting them all on there, and arranging them in an aesthetically balanced way. The hanging sheets are visually beautiful,...

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Thai Massage: It’s Beautifully Different from Yoga

Thai Massage: It’s Beautifully Different from Yoga

Thai Massage and Hatha Yoga are quite similar, and beautifully different. Have you noticed Thai Massage is popping up in yoga studios everywhere these days? Perhaps you’ve been wondering what it is and what the heck it has to do with yoga. Is it yoga? Indeed, Thai Massage is suddenly in yoga studios all across the United States. You might find it as part of an acro-yoga or partner-yoga class, or as a supplement to hands-on-adjustment techniques for yoga teachers. It’s sometimes called “Thai Yoga Massage” in the west, though I’ve never heard my Thai teachers use this term (I don’t use it either, preferring to honor the uniqueness & evolution of each form). Plenty of massage therapists in the U.S. have been diligently practicing and sharing Thai bodywork for ages, but it seems to have truly broken into our collective cultural consciousness in the last decade. Thai massage is a uniquely effective form of healing bodywork, and I’m sure it will continue to grow in popularity. **Same same, but different: Thai massage and yoga asanas There are many ways in which these two distinct forms of bodywork, both rooted in the Vedas are alike and different. They do look similar, but I want to focus on my favorite way they are different. Find the rest of this article in Elephant...

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Thai Massage History and Context

Thai Massage History and Context

This is an outline I use in Thai Massage classes to introduce students to the history of Nuad Bo-rarn in Thailand. I have a link for references for more info, and would love to hear your feedback on this history (especially if you are a historian). thanks & enjoy. In the Thai Language: Nuad= massage or body/energy work, Bo-rarn=ancient, classic Beginnings of Thai Massage (Nuad Bo-rarn): Shivaga (Shivaka) Komarapaj is considered the “Father Doctor” of Thai Massage, and even the “father of Thai medicine.” He was a contemporary of the Buddha in northern India (& what is now Nepal), and a doctor to the Buddha and Sangha, the spiritual community of the Buddha. Depending on who you ask, this may have been anytime from around 600-200 B.C. In the practice of Thai bodywork, we honor and give thanks to our lineage, saying a mantra (prayer) including homage to Shivaga Komarapaj, our teachers, and the energies of healing. Early Thai medicine (and it’s histories and stories) was passed down via oral tradition. It has evolved alongside and influenced (and been influenced by) Ayurvedic medicine/theory in India and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Some say it is rooted in the Vedas. By the 1600’s, there were many medical scriptures written on palm leaves in the Pali Sanskrit language (written in Khmer script). Thailand was invaded by Burma in 1767, and the Thai capital of Ayutthaya was sacked and destroyed. Many of these texts were lost at this point. In 1832, King Rama III had epigraphs created from the remaining palm leaf scriptures. These epigraphs were eventually carved into stone and now remain at Wat Po in Bangkok. Historically in Thailand, Thai bodywork was practiced and taught in Wats (temples). More recently, many schools and massage centers have begun teaching and offering bodywork to the general public. When studying in Thailand, it is important to be respectful of this tradition, and consider your place of study a sacred space: remember to take note of and honor local cultural and spiritual practices. “Royal Tradition of Thai Massage” I’m generalizing here, but we typically categorize the styles that evolved through the the Wats and were employed by members of the ruling classes as: Southern-style, or Northern-style. Southern-style is from the Bangkok/Wat Po area. It focuses on acupressure, and uses less stretching than Northern-style. Northern-style has developed in and around the Chiang Mai area. Relative to Southern-style, it incorporates more yoga-like stretching. Both ‘styles’ overlap, and each do use acupressure plus stretching. Northern-style has Burmese, Chinese and Hill-Tribe influences. “Rural Traditions in Thai Massage” As with any human culture, we like to pass our folk medicine & healing traditions on down through the generations. Thailand and southeast...

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