From an aromatherapy and oil massage thought to trigger memory, amongst other things, a facial massage that will make your skin glow radiantly, or a Thai foot massage that will ensure your feet and legs are lavished with the attention they deserve, a proper massage treatment can be beneficial for everyone. Have a look here at the different types of massages available, and recommended places to go to.
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Aromatherapy & Oil Massage
Though the standard technique varies little, there are a few sub-styles within the traditional Thai massage context. Some practices include the external application of water, lubricants, salt scrubs and other topical preparations and devices that mimic or improve the actions of hands. Essential oils are a common supplement to Thai massage, and incorporating aspects of aromatherapy in conjunction may provide further benefits.
Many establishments in Bangkok offer aromatherapy separately or as an addition intended to enhance another style of massage. An aromatherapy massage is a treatment involving oils that are naturally extracted from plants to balance, harmonise, and promote the health of body and mind. Distinct fragrances are thought to trigger memory and enhance an individual's responses to the aroma – perhaps calming, inducing relaxation, or restoring energy. The oils used in each session are usually determined with input from both the masseur and client, seeking to remedy specific needs. Several oils are decided upon after a consultation and blended into a massage oil to be used during the treatment.
Another variation to the Thai massage is a facial massage treatment. Just like any other form of massage, facial massage relieves tension, promotes relaxation and restores energy to the face and body by increasing circulation. During sleep, circulation is decreased in the body, meaning less blood flow to the face which results in puffiness and a drained complexion. Facial massage stimulates blood flow in facial tissue, restoring a healthy glow and maintaining a firm and smooth appearance.
Thai facial therapy uses gentle, circular strokes along differing regions of the head, face, and neck. Finger movement is always in an upward motion and, when performed regularly, keeps skin appearing tight and youthful. The forehead and nose are targeted to reduce the appearance of horizontal lines and the nostril area receives focused rubbing to unclog pores and reduce blemishes. Mouth and cheeks receive wider, sweeping strokes to prevent wrinkles and the sagging of facial muscles, while the chin and neck are targeted to promote muscle tone. The gestures aimed at the neck area are often performed in order to thwart the vile and loathsome double chin. With gentle fingers gliding over closed eyes, Thai facial massage makes relaxation virtually inevitable and couples the experience with improvements in skin texture and appearance.
Nearly as common as the body massage, Thai foot massage options appear almost everywhere the former is available. Though the title implies only feet are tended to, in actuality legs, lower thighs, hands and forearms also receive attention during a traditional Thai foot massage. After cleansing, the feet are anointed with a skin lotion or oil and reflex points are stimulated with fingers and occasionally a small wooden stick.
Force is applied tenderly and precisely to specific nerve endings at the bottom of the feet. Each part of the foot is reputably linked to another, often distant part of the body, with influence extending to vital organs as well as muscles. Pressing at the base of the second toe is thought to rouse the nerve controlling the lungs and bronchial system, while drawing a knuckle along the instep eases pain in the spine and promotes better posture. Thai foot massage ensures that feet and legs are lavished with the consideration and attentiveness they deserve. They are the pillars of the human body, after all.
Reflexology is the practice of stimulating points on the feet, hands, or ears, in the belief it will have a beneficial effect on some other parts of the body, or will improve general health. The most common form is foot reflexology. Practitioners believe the foot to be divided into a number of reflex zones corresponding to all parts of the body, and that applying pressure to tight or 'gritty' areas of a person's foot will stimulate the corresponding body part and cause it to begin healing itself.
Where to Go for a Thai Massage
Spas and salons offering traditional Thai massage are as common in Bangkok as fruit vendors and hawker stalls. Finding a location is not difficult, though discovering a high quality place that suits your particular fancy sometimes requires a bit of guidance. Many of the city's fine hotels these days sport their own lavish in-house spas too, where you'd be able to enjoy a wide range of spa and massage treatments. Also have a look at the advertisers on this page who are offering some great specials.
Frequently perceived as indulgent and intended only for those accustomed to luxury, traditional Thai massage manages to disprove this preconception, performing bodywork in order to promote health. A vast majority of individuals experience stress and tension on a regular basis, and what better way to escape pressure from everyday life than to take pleasure in one of Thailand's most illustrious forms of healing and rejuvenation?
Wat Po Traditional Massage
If you want to try the real thing, Wat Po (The Temple of the Reclining Buddha) offers Thai massage in its most traditional form, taken from the original inscriptions in stone commissioned by King Rama V, grandfather of the present king. If you are interested in learning the techniques, The Wat Po Traditional Thai Medicine School offers a range of massage courses from basic to advanced levels. Contact the school located in the temple compound.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 - 17:00 (massage available until 18:00).
- Location: Maharat Road, about a half mile south of the Grand Palace
- How to get there: The easiest way to get to Wat Po is by boat. Take the Chao Phraya River Express to the Tha Thien pier, then walk through the market and up the short street. Wat Po is directly across the intersection, on your right. On the left is the rear wall of the Grand Palace.