Why Thai massage hurts so good

Why Thai massage hurts so good
PHOTO: Santiburi Samui

A thrilling place to learn Thai massage and other wellness techniques, Santiburi Beach Campus at the Santiburi Beach Resort and Spa on Koh Samui is obviously rubbing guests the right way.

Participants in the classes quickly learn that Thai massage is much more rigorous than other methods practised around the world - some might say it's downright rough.

The therapist is trained to twist and bend limbs like some sort of brutally enforced yoga poses, but the real key is in the way the hands and elbows are used to manipulate muscles and pressure points.

It's taken centuries for these techniques of carefully selecting and compressing muscles, joints and acupressure nodes to evolve, but the proof of success is in the pudding of relief. Stress and tension are gone by the end of the session. The blood circulates far more freely, leading to an immediate and long-term sense of healthfulness.

Spa treatment Photo: Santiburi Samui

"In Thailand, massage is far more than just a way to relax and unwind - it's an integral part of the culture, with a history dating back 2,000 years," says Santiburi Resort general manager Cedric Bonvin. "Thai massage offers major health benefits, which is why many Thais make it a regular part of their lives."

Ah, but perhaps Thais don't know all the secrets. As well as learning about and experiencing the wonders of Thai massage, guests and enrolees in the course can also explore the ancient art of "Tibetan energy balancing".

TEB, as it's abbreviated, is applied by Reiki master Martina Sager, who claims to have had personal guidance from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in India and been trained in Tibet as well. She calls it a "spiritual healing process" that balances "the five elements of the body and activates its self-healing capabilities".

Photo: Santiburi Samui

"TEB connects you with the healer inside, with the soul or higher self. It brings about self-development and centeredness, strength, enthusiasm and healing," Sager says.

The spa is nothing less than an oasis in the heart of the Samui resort's sprawling, landscaped beachside grounds. The menu of treatments and therapies is enticing, covering everything from relaxing massages to full- and partial-body treatments and powerful spiritual-healing rituals. It has a Turkish massage table, shower therapy, indoor baths and outdoor deep-soaking tubs as well as rooms dedicated to traditional Thai massage.

Guests wishing to either experience or learn all about massage in privacy can arrange sessions as part of a four-day, three-night "retreat" in one of Grand Deluxe Pool Villas. Check out www.SantiburiSamui.com/offers.

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