Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has been around for centuries and its practices are believed to be good for the overall health. Let’s take a look at what exactly it does for the body, scientifically speaking:

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Did you know that traditional Thai massage relies heavily on stretching, compression and yoga-like body manipulations? You need not do the yoga poses yourself, but it is your body, mind and soul that will benefit from them. If you are eager to gain from yoga, why not come to our Centre? With the help of a qualified and experienced therapist, you will experience these benefits almost immediately.

Meditation and Stretching Relieves Porst-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rates vary from country to country. According to the World Health Organization, which began collecting statistics on the disorder in the 1990s, the incidence can be as low as 0.3% of the population in China or as high as 6.1% in New Zealand. In US more than 7 million adults nationwide (around 2% of the population) are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a typical year and in UK rates are broadly similar.

PTSD is triggered by a traumatic event, can cause flashbacks, anxiety and other symptoms. Sufferers have high levels of corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) and unusually low levels of cortisol – two hormones used to regulate the body’s response to stress. Although levels of the stress hormone cortisol typically rise in response to pressure, PTSD patients have abnormally low levels of cortisol and benefit greatly when these levels increase.

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can now be relieved with a combination of meditation and stretching which also normalize stress hormone levels according to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. In the said study, twenty-eight nurses from the University of New Mexico Hospital, including 22 experiencing PTSD symptoms, were divided into two groups. One group took 60-minute mind-body sessions where participants performed stretching, balancing and deep breathing exercises while focusing on awareness of their body’s movements, sensations and surroundings – a form of meditation called mindfulness. The control group did not participate in the twice-weekly class. The predominantly female participants underwent blood tests to measure their stress hormone levels and their symptoms judged against a check-list used to diagnose PTSD.

The results showed that among those who were enrolled in the mind-body course, cortisol levels in the blood rose 67% and PTSD check-list scores decreased by 41 %, indicating the individuals were displaying fewer PTSD symptoms. In comparison, the control group had a nearly 4% decline in check-list scores and a 17% increase in blood cortisol levels during the same period.  The study’s lead author, Sang H. Kim, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health said that mind-body exercise offers a low-cost approach that could be used as a complement to traditional psychotherapy or drug treatments.

As we all know, massage relaxes the muscles of the body and increases the cortisol level throughout the session. Our Centers offer you an authentic Thai massage that could surely relieve your stress with each experience. Visit our centers one of these days and experience a relaxing massage the Thai Odyssey way!

Massage Therapy Facts & Fallacy

Like sleeping in, enjoying a beach day or eating some chocolate, many people look at massage as an indulgent way to treat themselves and de-stress. However, in addition to making you feel good, massage therapy – manipulation of the skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments through touch – is also associated with numerous health benefits. Nevertheless, as with other forms of alternative medicine, not all of the health claims made by massage therapy are supported with scientific evidence.

FACT: Massage eases lower back pain – even better than medication.

As many as one-in-four Americans suffer from lower back pain, and it is estimated that 80 percent of Americans experience debilitating lower back pain at least once in their lives. However, long-term use of conventional medical treatments for lower back pain, such as opioid painkillers, can lead to organ damage and even addiction. Massage may represent a safer and more effective lower back pain treatment. A study published in the July 2011 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine found that among 401 middle-aged female participants with chronic lower back pain, those who received a 10-week series of either relaxation massage or structural massage—a more intensive type of massage—experienced less pain and improved functioning compared to those who received only usual care such as painkillers, muscle relaxants and physical therapy.

FALLACY: Massage burns fat.

Although some beauty spas, salons and massage practitioners offer weight loss massage services, massage has not been proven to burn fat or reduce cellulite. Massaging devices sold on TV or over the Internet are similarly ineffective at burning fat. The only safe and proven ways to burn fat are diet and exercise. That said, while massage itself won’t burn fat, a relaxing massage is a healthier alternative to more fattening de-stressors like sweets or alcohol. If getting a massage helps keep you from reaching for that chocolate cake, then by all means, make an appointment!

FACT: Massage reduces post-exercise muscle soreness.

While massage has been used to treat muscle soreness after strain or exercise for thousands of years, the mechanisms behind its effectiveness have not been well understood until now. Research published in Science Translational Medicine in February 2012 examined the effects of a 10-minute massage on the thigh muscles of young, healthy male volunteers who had just completed vigorous exercise to exhaustion. By studying muscle biopsies, scientists found that massage reduced the production of cytokines, pro-inflammatory compounds associated with post-exercise muscle pain. Additionally, massage stimulated mitochondria, energy producers inside of cells responsible for cell function and repair. The study’s authors also noted that massage is a safer way to reduce muscle pain than taking anti-inflammatory medication.

FALLACY: Massage builds muscle tissue.

Unfortunately, this is another myth. You cannot attain hypertrophy, or muscle growth, through massage. It is also untrue that certain forms of massage, such as tapotement can be used to strengthen muscles, as muscle strengthening requires muscle growth. Although massage can help relax tight muscles, only resistance exercise can build muscle. But as with weight loss, getting a massage might indirectly influence muscle growth – you might be encouraged to engage in some muscle-building strength exercises if a massage eases your muscle pain, lower back pain, depression, etc.

To minimize any risks associated with massage, make sure your session is conducted by a certified massage therapist, and get your doctor’s approval prior to getting a massage if you have unexplained pain, blood clots, bone fractures, severe osteoporosis, cancer, burns, open wounds or rheumatoid arthritis, or are pregnant.

History & Benefits of Yoga

Imagine an activity that increases your flexibility, strengthens your muscles, centers your thoughts, and relaxes and calms you. Yoga does all that and more!

The word yoga is Sanskrit for Yoke, or union. In the practice of yoga, we seek to create union between the mind and body. Yoga is the perfect example of holistic health because of this combination of mind and body. It is a systematic practice of physical exercise, breath control, relaxation, diet control, and positive thinking and meditation aimed at developing harmony in the body, mind, and environment. The practice entails low-impact physical activity, postures called asanas, breathing techniques (pranayama), relaxation, and meditation.

Yoga professes a complete system of physical, mental, social, and spiritual development. For generations, this philosophy was passed on from the master teacher to the student. The first written records of the practice of yoga appeared around 200 BC in Yogasutra of Patanjali. The system consisted of the eightfold path or Asthangayoga.

In the West, several schools of yoga are popular and use some or all limbs of Asthangayoga described by Patanjali. The eight limbs are as follows:

  • Yama: rules for successful living in society
  • Niyama: techniques for managing and purifying self
  • Asaana: posture techniques for physical and mental balance (what most people think of as yoga)
  • Pranayama: breathing techniques for physical and mental balance
  • Pratihara: techniques for detaching the mind from the senses for mental balance and calm
  • Dharana: concentration techniques for mental balance and calm
  • Dhyana: meditation techniques for mental balance and calm
  • Samadhi: ultimate advanced meditation techniques and psychic procedures attained after regular practice for universal consciousness

The process involves the arousal of the Kundalini Shakti, or serpent power, believed to be located at the base of the human spine. As one practices the various techniques, this power/latent energy rises through a series of centers or Chakras corresponding to various endocrine glands. When this power reaches the highest center, which is associated with the hypothalamus gland regulating the hormonal secretion of the endocrine system, it results in the control over the hypothalamus. In this way, secretion of hormones from various endocrine glands can be regulated. This mechanism may explain the importance of yoga as a stress management technique.

The benefits of various yoga techniques have been professed to improve body flexibility, performance, stress reduction, attainment of inner peace, and self-realization. Yoga has been advocated as complementary treatment to aid healing of several ailments such as coronary heart disease, depression, anxiety disorders, asthma, and extensive rehabilitation for disorders including musculoskeletal problems and traumatic brain injury. It has also been suggested as a behavioral therapy for smoking cessation and substance abuse including alcohol abuse.

You don’t have to be flexible to practice yoga. In fact, yoga will help you become flexible. When learning yoga, don’t force any movements or poses. Mastery will come with practice. A yoga class should make you feel invigorated, calm, and not in physical discomfort.

Alternatively, you can opt for a traditional Thai massage in our Centre. A traditional Thai massage is an ancient form of massage unique to Thailand using deep tissue, pressure point and stretching techniques (similar to that of yoga) to reduce stress and relieve muscle soreness.

Causes and Prevention of Stiff Joints

Joint stiffness is a hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic disease that affects 1.3 million adults in the United States. Resulting from an abnormal response of the immune system, rheumatoid arthritis inflames the soft tissue that lines the surface of joints called as the synovium. It is a systemic disease that not only makes joints stiff and painful, but can also affect other parts of your body, such as internal organs.

How well you can move an arm, leg, or finger in different directions reflects the joint’s range of motion. If you develop joint stiffness, your range of motion is reduced. Your joint doesn’t move as well as it once did. Joint stiffness may occur with or without joint pain. Other signs and symptoms in addition to the joint stiffness will help your doctor figure out what kind of arthritis you have.

Preventing further stiff-causing injuries should be high on your list. Taking adequate rest and icing the stiff joint if necessary are the minimum you can do. Icing the area for about ten minutes several times a day reduces inflammation. Inflammation causes injuries to take longer to repair themselves. Ibuprofen or other over-the-counter anti-inflammatory products are safe to use for several days at a time. Be careful not to exceed the daily dose, and don’t drink alcohol while taking them as this could lead to internal bleeding.

For prevention of stiffness and to strengthen joints, glucosamine and chondroitin supplements have been found to work by numerous studies, including one by the University of Utah School of Medicine that found that glucosamine combined with chondroitin sulfate provided statistically significant pain relief as compared with a placebo.

EFAs, or Essential fatty acids, help supply joints with the nutrients they need to stay lubricated and functioning well. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center in several articles reviewing the research in this area conclude that omega-3 fatty acid supplements reduce tenderness in joints and decrease morning stiffness.

Aside from anti-inflammatory medicines, Epsom salt wraps and soaks can help alleviate the pain of a stiff joint. Soak a small towel in hot water mixed with one-half cup Epsom salt and apply it to the affected joint. If you prefer to take a bath and soak your entire body, put two or more cups of Epsom salt in hot water. Doing gentle exercise in a cool pool will also bring temporary relief of joint stiffness.

You can also have a full body massage at our Center. Do you know that massage helps to free adhesions, break down scar tissue and decrease inflammation which may result to restore range of motion to stiff joints? Yes, stiff joints can be prevented with a massage! Visit us for a soothing relief right now.

 

Basic Techniques of a Thai Massage

Thai massage is usually given only by licensed massage therapists who have had specific training in Thai massage. This type of massage relies heavily on stretching, compression and yoga-like body manipulations. These movements are meant to elongate the muscles and increase blood flow throughout the body. These are a few Thai massage techniques that we practice at Thai Odyssey.

Working the Lateral Torso and Shoulder

The therapist stabilizes the client’s arm over their leg while compressing the lateral border of the shoulder blade. This technique can relieve shoulder pain originating in the latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior and teres major muscles.

 

Knee Press the Glutes in Folded Leg Position

The folded leg position shortens the gluteal muscles. This pose compresses the piriformis and other glutes while also stretching the adductors. It is a very effective pose for piriformis syndrome, hip pain, sciatica and other complaints stemming from trigger points in the glutes and rotators of the hip.

 Backbend with Feet on the Back Lines

In this pose, the therapist compresses the spinal erectors while leaning back to bring the client into an assisted backbend. The spinal erectors often limit extension by painfully contracting when they are asked to shorten. Pressure from the therapist’s feet provides feedback to the shortening muscles and disables the normal pain reflex.

 Foot Press the Posterior Leg – Locked Position

This is a very efficient and strong pose for the therapist, making it possible to lean back and use body weight to bring the client’s leg into the foot pressure. A very effective technique for trigger points in the medial hamstrings and vastus medialis.

 

Elbow Press the Anterior Lower Leg while Shortening

As the therapist leans back, the anterior muscles of the leg are shortened. This is a very effective and powerful way to treat tibialis anterior and the long extensors of the foot. Shortening the muscles makes them more responsive to pressure and provides retraining so the muscles learn to shorten gracefully.

All therapists in Thai Odyssey are well-trained and have more than 5 years of experience in providing traditional massages. Thai massage should never be painful. We encourage open channels of communication during the massage so that you receive the best experience at all times. Give traditional Thai massage a try – your body will feel its soothing benefits.

Why Choose a Thai Massage

Known as nuat phaen boran in Thailand, Thai massage has largely invaded the world with its unique style of letting people relax. It is also called Thai yoga massage because the therapist uses his or her hands, knees, legs, and feet to move you into a series of yoga-like stretches. Many people say Thai massage is like doing yoga without any work. Muscle compression, joint mobilization, and acupressure are also used during treatment. People describe Thai massage as both relaxing and energizing.

The combination of energetic and physical aspects is what makes Thai Massage unique and so effective. Traditional Thai massage is really a deep, full-body treatment, starting at the feet and progressing up to the head. Using a sequence of gentle, flowing exercise movements, the recipient’s body is moved, loosened and stretched of the joints and the muscles.

Believed to be over 2000 years old, traditional Thai massage is an authentic healing art and unique form of body therapy developed by people who used massage not only as a therapeutic method of healing to treat illnesses, but to maintain health and well-being. Thai massage helps detoxify the body, boosts the immune system and increases blood circulation, which could result to lower blood pressure. It is also good for muscle relaxation to increase the flexibility of your muscles as well as your mobility. It can improve your breathing and your posture and balance. Through Thai massage, body alignments can be corrected and energy blockages can be dissolved. It can also help tone the body, strengthen joints and fight diseases, including chronic joint problems. The very important physical benefit of Thai massage is that it can prevent illnesses, alleviate degenerative diseases and slow down the process of aging.

Aside from the physical benefits, Thai massage has also a mental benefit. It can improve your outlook towards life by building an emotional balance. It can also help you gain mental clarity. And among other benefits, Thai massage reduces and relieves stress and anxiety. Once in awhile, pamper yourself with a Thai massage for you to relieve all the stress in your body!

Thai Massage for Athletes & Sportspeople

All athletes and sports professionals are always increasingly seeking ways to complement their existing conditioning program. All athletes look for an edge that can help them train more effectively, perform better or overcome injuries quickly. Massage can be a very important part of an athlete’s regimen and Thai Massage is resurfacing as the hottest new trend with life-long benefits mental and physical health, and may be the ultimate sports massage. By understanding the world’s oldest medicine systems, we become better equipped to treat athletic conditions.

Thai massage, also called Thai-Yoga, is rooted in the 7,000-year- old medicine system of Ayurveda and is called as such because it is rooted in yoga. It offers the benefits of an acupressure or deep tissue massage, the stretching and breathing of a yoga class and energetic balancing of the body’s electromagnetic field all in one session.
In other words, Thai massage is like having yoga done to you. The techniques involve stretching, holding and leaning the therapists’ body weight into various parts of the client’s body to improve blood circulation,flexibility and posture. By utilizing feet, elbows, forearms and knees, the therapist broadens the effects of “hands-on- massage”, physical opening often occurs leaving the recipient rejuvenated with an enhanced range of motion.

There is also a core serenity that accompanies this massage modality. Everyone benefits from the subtleties underlying the physical aspects of improved well being. Along with a body that has become lengthened, broadened, and more open with the dynamic moves are the peace and serenity associated with relaxation massage.

Athletes may choose to add Thai massage as pre-event bodywork, essentially reducing anxiety while being properly stretched through the assisted movements. As post-event bodywork, the Thai massage session could be enhanced with a special Thai herbal compress, that helps relieve muscular aches and strain. With relaxing properties from twenty different herbs, the steamed massage compress can stretch ligaments and reduce muscular soreness and joint stiffness.