When travelling through the major cities of Thailand, you find spas and massage centers on almost every corner. For as little as $6 dollars, you have your choice of 5 or more different one-hour massages. Although traditional Western massage has a lot of great health benefits, Thai or Thai Yoga Massage is a distinct approach that is very similar to yoga in it’s goal to balance the energy within the body while also providing the physical and mental benefits we are accustomed to with massage. As we continue to move into a more holistic view of wellbeing, Thai Massage is a perfect example of how “spirit” can successfully be included in any mind/body therapy.
Massage in general has long been touted as beneficial for a number of physical and mental imbalances. Most people go to massage to relieve stress and/or physical pain and rightly so. Massage stimulates the release of endorphins while reducing cortisol levels, which helps us to naturally relax and feel good when pressure is applied to the muscles. In a deep tissue approach, lymphatic drainage (release of toxins) and increased blood flow to the muscles can greatly improve mobility and flexibility for stiff joints and muscles and relieve pain, even pain associated with migraines, pms, arthritis, fibromyalgia, surgery, sports, labor, cancer and more.  Massage also increases delta brain waves, which are linked to deep sleep and likely the reason most of us fall asleep at times while receiving a massage and subsequently sleep better that night. 
There are a number of other benefits associated with massage beyond those related to stress and muscle pain. For example, a research study conducted on adults over the age of 62, found that a weekly 60-minute massage improved balance and blood pressure.  Other research studies show that the immune system function is boosted. One reason is because stress hormones destroy immune cells and since cortisol levels decrease with massage, the immune system function improves. Massage also has been shown to decrease depression and anxiety symptoms and increase energy, alertness and concentration.
Thai massage takes traditional massage one step further. In addition to some of the methods we’re accustomed to such as kneading and working individual muscles with the hands and elbows, Thai massage practitioners manipulate the body utilizing different yoga type postures while applying pressure at the same time with both their hands and feet.
During a Thai massage session, you lie comfortably on a soft mat on the floor, fully clothed. Muscles and joints get moved, loosened, cracked and stretched, which also helps with lymphatic drainage and blood flow to the heart and digestive tract. Thai massage provides all the same benefits as other types of massage with the added benefit of restoring energy flow throughout the body, a method that originates from the time of the Buddha and represents a deep knowledge of the internal body developed over centuries of practice. Like acupuncture, chiropractic and other types of energy therapies, pressure is applied along the energy lines or meridians within the body, which helps to adjust the skeletal structure while also balancing the energy system. Some say that they feel the benefits of a Thai massage session for days or weeks afterwards. This can be helpful for not only a person’s physical and mental needs, but also their spiritual needs. 
Although the budget required to have regular massages at home has deterred me in the past, the ease and availability here in Thailand has inspired me to experience the benefits first hand of a weekly session. Despite frequent travel on busses, planes, boats and trains, I haven’t had any problems with muscle aches and pains which tells me first hand that massage is an effective and necessary part of wellbeing and one I will continue to incorporate moving forward.
 Mercola, J. (2007, March 20). Five reasons to get a massage today. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/03/20/five-reasons-to-get-a-massage-today.aspx
 Lewis, K.K. (2007, March 8). Massage: it's real medicine. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/03/08/healthmag.massage/index.html?eref=yahoo
 Pubmed.gov "Six weeks of massage therapy produces changes in balance, neurological and cardiovascular measures in older persons." JM Sefton, et. al. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, September 2012:5(3):28-40. Epub 2012 Sep 26. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23087776
 Thaibodymind.co.nz (No date). What is thai massage. Retrieved from http://www.thaibodymind.co.nz/thmassage.php
 Jongrakthaimassage.com (No date). Benefits of thai massage. Retrieved from http://www.jongrakthaimassage.com/Benefits_Thai_Massage.htm
Published On: December 20, 2012