The first time you heard the phrase, “Thai Massage,” what came to mind?
Most of us hear the word “massage” and picture hands kneading your muscles. During my first Thai massage, I was surprised to learn that I would remain fully clothed, rest on a floor mat, and relax while the practitioner moved my body through what felt like a series of yoga poses. After being gently stretched, pulled, twisted, pressed, and folded, I felt limber and refreshed. It wasn’t what I expected, but I felt spectacular.
I suppose anyone witnessing the session would have though I was being tortured (although I think the most awkward looking techniques are the ones that feel the best). An unknowing witness would probably agree with Simon de la Loubere, a French diplomat and the first Westerner to document Thai massage. In 1690, he wrote:
When any person is sick in Siam [Thailand] he begins with causing his whole body to be moulded by one who is skillful herein, who gets upon the body of the sick person and tramples him under his feet. – (Mercati, Maria. Thai Massage Manual, 1998.)
I hope Mr. Loubere experienced the trampling and enjoyed it as much as I did.