When It Comes to Massage, Give Thai a Try!
By Maureen Werther
I was excited to meet Rebecca Morris, Senior Massage Therapist at Bodyworks, whose focus includes sports massage, myofascial release, and – the treatment I booked – Thai massage.
My first experience at Bodywork Professionals had left me feeling calm, relaxed, and “de-stressed” – a blissful departure from my more typical daily state of “dis-stress” – and I was hoping for a similar result this time around.
Both Rebecca and owner Nick Pavoldi greeted me warmly upon my arrival, and I was given a cup of water and guided along the hallway into the room where I would have my massage. It was a room very unlike the typical massage treatment room. The walls were lined with gongs, either suspended from the ceiling or resting on stands. Something on the ceiling attracted my attention and my gaze turned upward to see a lovely dark wood frame resembling windowpanes, lined with rice paper.
Instead of a narrow massage table, there was a very large mat with a pillow spread out on the floor on top of a richly textured oriental rug. The muted sounds of flutes, gongs, and light strings drifted across the air from a corner of the room. The effect was immediate, calming, and tranquil.
Unlike the more traditional Swedish massage, I was dressed in yoga attire for this treatment, and I quickly removed my shoes and lay down on the mat. Rebecca had given me a few moments to relax and acclimate myself to my environment, which was a breeze, given my surroundings. As I lay there, sinking into a state of calm and quiet, I again marveled at why so many of us in our culture deny ourselves the experience of massage and think of it as a luxury instead of something essential to our physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being.
As someone who has been active my entire life, in middle age I’ve begun to feel the effects of over-exertion in the form of stiffness and arthritis. So, I was particularly eager to see if Thai massage might help reduce my pain and allow me to regain some of the flexibility I’ve lost with age.
Rebecca re-entered the room and, before we began, she explained that her technique is a blend of different therapies and disciplines she has practiced in her fifteen years as a massage therapist. In fact, Thai massage, which was created by the Thais between 800-1200 A.D., was itself influenced by a number of other disciplines, including Ayurveda, Buddhism, understanding of Chinese Meridians, and Hatha Yoga. Some people even refer to it as “passive” yoga because the therapist uses his or her body to actively move the client’s body into a variety of stretches and poses that have their basis in yoga.
But I was here for massage, not conversation, so I closed my eyes and let myself sink into the mat and be guided into the treatment by Rebecca’s practiced hands.
Thai therapy is a combination of point pressure and stretching, and the practitioner applies movement in response to the signals she receives from the client’s body. Rebecca says that it is not just about the energy she puts forth during the session; rather, it’s a mutual subtle communication going on between the therapist and the client’s body, letting her know where the body is “blocked” and where the body is ready to “let go” and allow for deeper work to be done.
While it is very rewarding for her to give a client a great massage treatment, Rebecca especially enjoys working with people who have specific goals for treatment. During her fifteen years as a therapist, she has worked with amateur and professional athletes, including martial artists, football, basketball, and hockey players, as well as with gym-goers for whom physical and spiritual fitness is a way of life. A practitioner of Brazilian Jujitsu and Kickboxing herself, Rebecca understands that the essence of Thai massage is also the essence of martial arts. Both disciplines involve what she calls the “give and take of energy.”
As my treatment progressed, I was able to experience this “give and take.” I found myself completely relaxing and allowing Rebecca to gradually and gently move my limbs and torso into a range of positions. I could actually feel that familiar tightness in my lower back, neck, and shoulders start to give way under her firm, yet gentle guidance.
By the end of an hour, I was in a state of total relaxation and pain-free serenity. As someone who has suffered from back pain for most of my adult life, I have struggled to find someone who can release the tension along my spine that gives rise to so much discomfort. Other than one physical therapist who I visited regularly until relocating to this area, Rebecca’s treatment has been the only therapy that includes myofascial release, stretching, and massage. When done consistently, this course of therapy can make a huge difference for people like myself, who continue to be active, but who are hampered by pain and stiffness.
As Rebecca puts it, “People start to trust the process and relax into the therapy.” As a result, the body is able to release those “blocks” that are holding it in a state of pain and discomfort.
I know there are other types of massage therapy offered by Bodywork Professionals, and I can’t wait to experience them and share that experience with our readers. But, I AM going to make an appointment for a second Thai massage – this time, for 90 minut