Today in Thai Massage class at ITM in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we learned to fix a broken heart. We also learned to twist each other like wet pretzels.
Sweat was shed, spines were cracked (in the good way), and everyone gasped to their partner when it was over: “Your legs are really heavy!”
The French fellow had a meltdown. “But it ees too fast! I am lost! I am lost!” The Canadian hysterically giggled when Olivia touched her armpit for move number seventy-three: “Fixing Broken Heart”. The German physical trainer kept asking her partner, “Am I hurting you? It seems like I am hurting you!”
But for those of us taking our turn receiving, though, the insane looking postures were actually really nice. When my partner for the day, a Dutch airline supervisor named Luke, asked me if he was in danger of snapping my shoulder or spine in the move pictured below, I replied with all honesty, “No, it’s comfortable! I feel like I’m flying!”
Part of why I’m writing this article is because it is oh so important to be informed of what you’re getting yourself into when you delve into learning Thai Massage. This ain’t no gentle back rub!
Yesterday I talked with a few shell-shocked members of the 11-week Thai Massage Trainer Training course, and several times they muttered, “I just had no idea it was going to be like this. I have a background in Western massage, and our main rule is always: don’t twist or yank the body in a way that might harm it… and cause the person to sue you!”
Indeed, not only is Asia far less litigious than the U.S., but stretching and massage are such major parts of daily life here (from the schoolchildren starting each day with a workout, to a recent bus driver I saw getting massaged for ten minutes by his coworker during a gas fill-up) that Thais have far more flexibility than the average Westerner.
The good thing about learning well over one hundred Thai Massage moves, however, is that you are free to pick and choose which ones will work for your partner, and discard which ones won’t. If you only opt to do the hand massage section, so be it. We now know about twenty positions to work the hands alone, and they all feel great!
The moral of the story: As long as you’re okay with the reality that your foot will be somewhere around the back of your head at some point during the week, ITM Thai Massage school will work just fine for you.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!