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.

Practicing Yoga Before Sleeping

We’ve all been there — rolling around in bed at night, replaying the day’s craziness and mentally going through tomorrow’s to-dos. Before you know it, it’s 2 a.m. and you’re still counting sheep. Sound familiar?

A person who’s deprived of sleep should avoid large meals before bed, limit intake of caffeine, create a soothing atmosphere and take a warm bath. But if you say, ‘been there, done that,’ take advice from the yogis who suggest courting sleep by working with your subtle energy. In other words, forget the sleeping pills or the babbling brook; a few simple yoga moves might be all you need to summon the Sandman and enjoy a night of quality sleep.

Yoga can help tackle sleep related problems through tension releasing exercises and poses that loosen up the tight muscles and put you into a deep state of relaxation. A relaxed session of yoga helps to calm the body, mind and spirit. This helps to quiet the constant thought patterns that can rob you of sleep. Combine yoga with a short meditation practice to enhance this benefit.

Inversions, twists and relaxation poses are combined to release tension, relax the body, improve circulation and sleep easily. Here’s a video on yoga poses you can do before going to sleep.

http://youtu.be/ixIWDMokjoE

Practicing Yoga in the Morning

Practicing yoga in the morning reduces your stress, which improves your focus for other tasks such as work or school. A research reported that one hour of morning yoga practice, including meditation, reduced stress and improved confidence, leading to better performance throughout the day. There are so many awesome reasons to practice yoga first thing in the morning.

Yogic breathing stimulates your body and mind. All that fresh oxygen wakes up the brain like a jolt of caffeine. Yet, unlike coffee, the energy boost from deep-breathing lasts all day. Morning yoga will help you to feel more energized, helping you to be more productive during the day. After your hour-long practice, you’ll feel increased clarity of mind, ready to face your day brighter and more alive. This means that you will be able to accomplish more in less time during your work day.

Practicing yoga early in the morning will also set the tone for your whole day. It will calm and center you before you have to step out into the chaos of life. You will be ready for any situation that comes your way. That traffic jam? – No worries, you did yoga. Grumpy boss? – Just remember to inhale and exhale. Each early-morning session will remind you to set an intention to practice kindness, compassion and love. Others can feel that, and the world will start to reflect that peace back at you.

Aside from that, the stretching in yoga makes your body tighter, lighter and brighter. It raises serotonin levels, endorphins and other feel-good chemicals and that will all show up in the glow of your skin. Studies show people who practice yoga can actually slow down the aging of the heart, liver and kidneys. All of your insides will reflect on the outside. You eyes will be brighter. Your skin will have a glow. Your body will feel taller and longer. Your immune system will be stronger.

In addition, yoga also helps speed up your metabolic rate, which means that you can eat more and burn calories faster. When you practice yoga early in the day, you improve your digestion and food will burn up faster, and more nutrients will move through your body. When you have enough nutrients moving through efficiently, then your body metabolizes fats and carbohydrates faster and your insides will be running at tip-top speed and efficiency, so you can have that second bowl of granola and don’t sweat it!

Here’s a video of morning yoga poses to get your engine started early in the day.

http://youtu.be/dBw37_jmy_M

Importance of Sleep to the Body and Soul

Do you often wonder why you feel tired sometimes or maybe even all the time? Since the invention of the light bulb people sleep much less, approximately 500 hours a year, or 1.25 hours a day. While the exact mechanism of sleep and how it impacts our brain function, it is clear that science knows that sleep is one of the body’s most important processes.

Overnight, the body’s cells are renewed, the body’s digestive system is at rest and the brain becomes only partially active which is why we feel so refreshed after a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation is the cause of many physical and mental problems including poor concentration, digestive problems, depression and accelerated aging. Over time sleep deprivation can also result in blurry vision and impaired judgement, while severe sleep deprivation can result in hallucinations, mania and nausea. Usually getting a good night’s sleep alleviates these symptoms but chronic sleep deprivation (such as night shift workers such as doctors and nurses, or mothers with newborn or sick children), may require longer periods of sleeping.

The way in which you treat your body can have a profound impact on your body, mind and soul balance. The body has its own natural rhythms that are designed to uphold its state of balance. This includes the natural cycle of sleep.  If our bodies are not functioning properly, it is a sign that there is disharmony in our body, mind and soul.

Here are some helpful tips you should remember the next time you sleep.

  • As a general rule, you should aim for 7 hours sleep a night. If you know you require less, make sure you get your minimum sleeping hours so that you are fully functioning during waking hours.
  • Have a routine for sleeping hours and try to stick to it.
  • Make your bed and your bedroom enticing to go to sleep in. Make sure it is quiet, dark and warm.
  • Do some form of relaxation before going to sleep. Yoga, stretching, meditation or reading can help orient the body and mind for sleep.
  • Don’t do any computer work directly before going to sleep. The brightness of computer monitors stimulates the brain.
  • Avoid large meals just before bed. Try to keep your dinner portions to a minimum and eat at least 2 hours before going to sleep.

So get the right amount of sleep to bring harmony with your body and soul!

Injury in Sports

The most common sports-related injuries primarily are overuse injuries. As the name implies, an overuse injury results from wear and tear on the body, particularly on joints subjected to repeated activity.

By far, the most common sport that leads to injury is running. According to James Garrick, MD, director of the Center for Sports Medicine at St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco, running jars the body from the foot all the way up into the back. He has seen more runners than any other recreational athletes in his clinic, followed by those who participate in dance (including aerobics), tennis, skiing, basketball, gymnastics, football, soccer and figure skating.

 The most common sports injuries are sprains and strains, knee injuries, swollen muscles, achilles tendon injuries, pain along the shin bone, fractures and dislocations.

Certain types of injuries plague sports participants. Most of them, however, are minor. Knowing the early signs and what to do can help prevent them from becoming nagging problems. Here’s a video to give you more information on how to prevent sports injuries. http://youtu.be/AOA87LbrSZA

If you get hurt, you must stop performing the sport, because continuing to play or exercise can cause more harm. You can limit swelling and start healing faster after common sports injuries by using the PRICE principle:

  • P — protect from further injury. For more severe injuries, protect the injured area with a splint, pad, or crutch.
  • R — restrict activity. Restricting activity will prevent worsening of the injury.
  • I — apply ice. Apply ice immediately after a common sports injury. “Ice is the miracle drug” for sports injuries, says Putukian. “It’s an anti-inflammatory, without many side effects.” Use ice for 20 minutes every one to two hours for the first 48 hours after the injury. Don’t use heat during this time — it encourages swelling and inflammation.
  • C — apply compression. Compression with an elastic bandage will help reduce swelling.
  • E — elevate the injured area. Elevating the injured area above the heart will also reduce swelling.

Over-the-counter pain relievers usually relieve the pain of common sports injuries to a tolerable level. If they don’t, it’s probably time to see a doctor. You can also opt to go for a sports massage where your sore and tired muscles are gently rubbed and allowed to eventually heal. Be tough and smart in playing your favorite sport!

Foot Reflexology and Its Many Benefits

Foot reflexology is a “pressure therapy” that involves applying focused pressure to certain known reflex points located in the foot to cure or prevent disease. It is a complimentary therapy, intended for use alongside conventional medical care and not as a replacement of it.

 

According to the book The Touch of Love, Thai Massage (written by Sombat Tapanya), massage is an art of healing originated some 5,000 years ago. It was mentioned in an ancient Chinese medical textbook in the reign of Emperor Wendi (179-157 B.C.) of the Han Dynasty and in an Indian Ayuraveda Book that “Massage is a self-healing method.” According to Chinese medicine, the sensory nerves of the internal organs that spread throughout the body are mainly gathered around the soles of the feet.

Among the benefits of foot reflexology includes:

  • Induces a state of deep relaxation by opening neural pathways
  • A reflexology session stimulates more than 7,000 nerves, encouraging the opening and cleansing of neural pathways
  • Effective for pain management. When reflexology is applied to the feet, more endorphins are produced to block pain signals to the brain. Endorphins are painkillers that are stronger than morphine. People who are experiencing pain may get significant relief through reflexology.
  • Increases circulation, improving blood flow throughout the body
  • Cleanses the body of toxins and impurities
  • Stimulates the central nervous system
  • Stimulates energy work throughout the body
  • Balances the whole system thus revitalizing the body’s natural energy flow

The benefits of a foot reflexology session are manifold. It is appropriate for all ages as well as for a variety of ailments. Not only soothing to sore feet, it can benefit most other body aches and pains. If you can’t handle pressure in a part of your body because of soreness or inflammation, there is a corresponding part in the foot that can bring relief.

The healing power of touch is instinctive in human nature & when we formalize that instinctive touch into massage, it becomes a powerful healing tool.

 

Simple Exercises to Perk Up Your Day in the Office

Do you often wonder why you feel so sleepy in mid-afternoon? The brain associates stillness with sleep, especially if there is not enough natural light. Also, poor posture doesn’t just make you look tired, it places excess strain on your back and hips, which can make you feel drained and achy. Your first instinct may often be to reach for a sugary snack to boost your energy. Unfortunately, that energy increase will be short-lived and in reality, the extra calories will just widen your waistline. The alternative is an exercise break. A rapid 10-minute walk raises energy faster and for longer (up to two hours) than sweets and snacks. You will also find that the physical activity can provide an outlet for job-related tensions or mental fatigue and make the afternoon more productive. So, how can you do this?

Simply start with stretching at your desk to loosen the muscles, ease joints and allow blood to flow more easily around your body, which will give you a quick energy boost. Then, instead of heading towards the vending machine or pantry, walk up and down 20 stairs 10 times. If your building doesn’t have any stairs, walk around the block or car park for 10 minutes.

You may also find this video below quite a helpful tool for simple exercise you can do during your break to perk up your day and keep your energy levels rising.

http://youtu.be/jIJjtklBGZE

 

How Aromatherapy Affects the Mood

Scent is a powerful thing. It has the ability to make us feel sick, energized or even aroused. Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant that can affect our moods, and consequently how we think or feel at any given time.

The inhaled aroma from these “essential” oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing. A form of alternative medicine, aromatherapy is gaining momentum. It is used for a variety of applications, including pain relief, mood enhancement and increased cognitive function.

There are a wide number of essential oils available, each with its own mood effect. Here are some of these oils:

Lavender

If you are having a stressful day, consider lighting a lavender-scented candle. The fragrance of lavender can help release tension in your muscles. It can also help relieve stress and lower your blood pressure. If you have issues with insomnia or relaxing before bed, consider using lotion with a lavender fragrance.

Pine

Many home cleaning products rely on the scent of pine. The scent of pine is energizing and promotes a positive feeling. That may be helpful when you’re not motivated to clean. A spritz of pine-scented room spray may make you feel energized during an afternoon slump.

Grapefruit

Citrus scents, such as grapefruit, can also enhance your energy levels. It’s an easy scent to use because most people find it unoffensive. In addition to using lotion and fragrance with elements of grapefruit, put grapefruit-scented oil on cotton balls and place them strategically throughout your home.

Jasmine

If you would like to get in the mood for romance, surround yourself with jasmine. Place a diffuser filled with jasmine oil in your bedroom to create a subtle fragrance that will arouse your senses. Jasmine is also a common ingredient in many perfumes. It’s sexy and subtle.

Rose

The scent or roses has a calming effect, especially for women. It may be able to balance out hormones, which adds to a feeling of calm. In addition, the scent of roses may put you in the mood for romance.

Surround yourself with specific scents to lift or alter your mood. However, keep in mind that you could be sensitive to certain scents.

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!

The Basics of Thai Aromatherapy Massage

Thai aroma massage is a fabulous blend of East and West techniques, comprising of Thai-style deep massage with yoga stretching combined with sophisticated western-style Swedish massage. The massage is received with the client undressed (proper draping ensured) on a comfortable table using aroma oil. This type of massage soothes your body and encourages a peaceful mind.

Aromatherapy massage is a massage therapy but with highly concentrated plant oils, called essential oils, added to the massage oil or lotion. This kind of massage is in fact a combination from all kinds of massage, as the Thai say : a unique mixture of the best from different worlds united in one massage. There are elements of Swedish massage, Indian, Ayurvedic and Thai. The use of aromatherapy to complement a traditional Thai massage combines the usual vigorous stretching and body treatment of a Thai massage with scents and aromas released from candles, oils and other products. These scents stimulate the client further, heightening their sense of relaxation and wellness. Special attention is given to the meridians or ‘energy-channels’ in the body. Because there is a lot of physical touch and stimulation, the muscles, tendons, connective tissues, blood circulation and lymphatic system get activated, blockades can get counterbalanced and the excess lumber can be removed.

The nostrils are attached to a part of the brain called the limbic system. The limbic system controls emotions and influences the nervous system and hormones. When you inhale essential oil molecules, messages are transmitted to the limbic system and affect heart rate, stress level, blood pressure, breathing, digestion and the immune system. The essential oils used are also believed to be absorbed through the skin. The essential oils refer to oils that come from the essence of plants. They are a little oily, very fragrant and usually too concentrated to be used diluted. For this reason essential oils are typically blended with a carrier oil, such as jojoba or grapseed oil, in order to dilute them so they don’t harm the client’s skin. The essential oils used are determined by the massage therapist. They are chosen therapeutically to treat the emotional disorders of the client through the olfactory glands (through smell) and when the fragrant oils are inhaled, a chemical message is sent to the brain which triggers a certain emotional response.

Each of the essential oils have different healing properties. Some have calming and soothing properties while the others may energize you. For example, if you want to have a calming effect from your aromatherapy massage, essential oils such as chamomile, lavender and geranium may be recommended for this purpose. Ylang yang, clary sage, rose and neroli has an uplifting effect while rosemary energizes and cleanses. And for decongesting or detoxifying purposes, you may choose to use eucalyptus, pine or tea tree instead.

Why do people get aromatherapy massages? This is because aromatherapy massage is particularly suited to conditions involving stress or improving emotionally-related conditions such as insomnia, headaches, digestive disorders, premenstrual syndromes and back pains. Studies have shown that self-massage significantly improved symptoms and wellbeing in people with lymphedema. It also slightly reduced limb volume. On a separate case study, sixteen first-time mothers received a 30-minute aromatherapy massage two days after delivery, while 20 mothers received standard postpartum care. The aromatherapy massage group had significantly decreased ratings of postpartum blues and anxiety, and had increased vigor and attachment to their babies. Also, research suggests that patient with cancer, particularly in the palliative care setting, are increasingly using aromatherapy and massage.

Before your first aromatherapy massage session, your massage therapist will conduct an initial consultation with you to learn about your desired outcome. They might ask about the current state of your work life, home life, physical health and mental state to learn about what you need. Remember not to eat a heavy meal before the massage. Following the consultation, the massage therapist will select several essential oils specific to your mental and physical conditions, and blend them into a massage oil to be used during your first massage. Many massage therapists will also give you a small blend of the essential oil to use at home between sessions.

Aromatherapy massage is performed on nude clients; however the therapist will leave the room so that you can undress in privacy. In addition a sheet or towel will be available for you to cover yourself during the massage. The only time the massage therapist will pull back the sheet is to work on a specific body part. If you are uncomfortable, please notify your massage therapist immediately.

However, the aromatherapy massage is not recommended for certain people with infectious skin disease, rash or open wounds, immediately after surgery, immediately after chemotherapy or radiation unless recommended by the doctor and people prone to blood clots. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before having a massage. Pregnant women should check with their doctor first if they are considering getting a massage. Massage in pregnant women should be done by massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage. And last but not least, the massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures.