These past few months I have been studying Thai anatomy and physiology. It has been incredibly illuminating to see the body through this lens, rather than the western one, which is often about diagnosing disease and giving labels.
Thai Medicine sees the whole person, not the disease. Instead, part of the science is that it uses a five-element understanding to address the body, mind and spirit. In a nutshell this means that everything, from our blood and tears, our skin, bone muscle and fascia, our hormones and organs, the age we are, the sound of our voice, how we live our lives, absolutely all of this can be linked to the hard earth beneath our feet, the wind blowing through the trees, the sun that warms us, the stillness of a lake and the mist blowing in-land off the sea in the early morning.
There is something gentler knowing about the connection the body has to the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Space. Understanding that when they go out of balance within us (which they do often for we are always in a state of fluctuation, ebbing and flowing like the tides) – our whole being is affected.
I was telling my fourteen-year-old daughter about the elements just the other day. I was explaining how they could be displaying themselves as weakened and depleted, but equally they could be excited or agitated.
I gave her this example: When a person has put on weight, they could be showing ‘excited’ water element. My daughter loved this description, she thought this was such a beautiful and kind way to describe someone’s weight gain, rather than use words that sound judgemental such as ‘fat’ or ‘overweight’ and that excited water might allow someone to be more accepting of themselves, seeing it through the explanation of elements out of balance.
She wanted to know how the theory was put into practice in a Thai Massage context and I explained to her that there were many bodywork techniques one could use to help with a water imbalance. Massage is only one possible technique.
A practitioner would need a lot more information to be sure of how to structure a session, as there are often other elements out of balance to take into consideration, but I will give a somewhat generic idea of what a Thai body worker may do in a session, for excited water.
The massage component would include lots of stretching, squeezing, pressing and twisting. There would be gentle Sen and point work, as watery people are sensitive and bruise easily, there would be a fast pace (water is a slow element).
Other bodywork therapies would include fire cupping, heating compresses, liniments, oils and balms.
If this information makes you inquisitive and excited (as it did me when I learnt it) and you want to learn how to give traditional Thai medical bodywork, please express your interest by registering here. Courses are being structured as we speak and with spaces limited you might want to be the first to know.