Thailand has long been renowned not only for its glorious beaches, mountains and jungles, but for its enduring focus on wellness of the body, mind and spirit. The options for improving any aspect of your life or health here are almost without limit – if you have just a little spirit of adventure and some natural curiosity.
Quiet your mind – and your voice – with a silent meditation retreat in a mountain-top monastery, or school yourself in a new variety of yoga taught on floating bamboo platforms in Khao Sok National Park. Achieve dental perfection with a full set of porcelain veneers – identical to Western work, but at a fraction of the cost – or learn the art of tasty Thai cooking in one of Bangkok’s well-known kitchens.
But whether you’re a reflective type who leans toward Monk-for-a-Month retreats, or you’re determined to reach your fighting weight at beach boot camp, it would be a mistake if you were to leave Thailand without trying out what many are convinced is the main reason this country is called the Land of Smiles: Massage – lots of it, and lots of different varieties.
The Benefits of the Thai Massage
Once you’ve lived in Thailand for any length of time it’s hard to imagine how the rest of the world gets along without regular benefit of this art that is so much like the hug of a loved one. These days, massage has outgrown its reputation as an indulgence for the self-indulgent. Instead, more and more people are recognizing it for the wealth of health benefits it can bring. These include relieving stress and promoting relaxation, improving the body’s range of mobility, lessening back pain, enhancing immunity by stimulating the flow of lymph, decreasing inflammation, and increasing flexibility of muscles and joints. It reduces depression and anxiety and promotes the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller. It’s also known to reduce anxiety and promote a feeling of wellbeing, while increasing body awareness at the same time.
If you’re suffering from a physical ailment, chances are there’s a form of massage available in Thailand that will help. All you need do is figure out which one it is, and a wonderful way of doing so is to take the holistic view and try them all! One approach is to choose a health resort or spa. Thailand is also famous for these, and they will have broad varieties of treatments to offer. So instead of driving from place to place, you’ll relax and try three or four modalities in the same day, educating yourself on what works best for you.
At Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa, you can sample just such an experience. Here there are 22 Thai massage practitioners on staff at this 5-star resort on the island’s tranquil southern coast, and they specialize in myriad solutions for physical problems. Banish the tension and numbness that plague the world’s computer workforce with a back, neck and shoulder massage, or subject yourself to the bliss of Indian head massage, which uses deep thumb and finger pressure to improve circulation to the head, release emotional and physical tension, and enhance relaxation and mental clarity.
Opt for a treatment unique to Thailand with a Taoist abdominal massage known as Chi Nei Tsang – excellent for digestive problems and for the health of the internal organs; or stimulate your organs from the bottom up with a foot reflexology treatment.
Holistic Wellness Treatments
One school of body treatments that is growing steadily in popularity is Ayurveda, the ‘Science of Life’. A holistic system of natural medicine that is first described around 3,500 BC in the Vedic texts of ancient India, it promotes living an existence that is balanced and in harmony with all aspects of life – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
At Kamalaya, the wellness team includes four Ayurvedic therapists from Kerala, and you’re able to choose from their full repertoire that includes Shirodhara, a therapy that works through to the deepest levels of one’s being. You’ll relax as warm, medicated oil is poured continuously on the forehead, helping to connect and energize the ‘nadis’, various channels that sustain our lives. Or recover from your yoga retreat with Kati Vasti for your lower back: A medicinal paste is applied in a ring around the afflicted area, and warm Ayurvedic oil is poured in its centre, left to rest and then followed with a massage that will transport you to nirvana.
Those feeling a bit dehydrated from sun and sand benefit hugely from the Royal Ayurveda Traditional Massage: Warm oil is generously poured over your whole body, followed by a combination of rhythmic rubbing, tapping, pinching and kneading techniques that increase circulation while nourishing and calming the nervous system. You’ll leave the treatment sala feeling rejuvenated and tension free.
In the spirit of Kamalaya’s holistic philosophies, your hosts are more than happy to put a program together for you that will allow you to have the experience of wellness delivered to all of your five senses at once. The name Kamalaya translates from the Sanskrit for Lotus Realm, so you won’t go wrong with the Lotus Realm package for two. It is three and a half hours of pure enjoyment that starts with a private herbal steam, followed by Lotus Seed Scrub and the blissful Lotus Blossom Wrap. A 90-minute Vital Essence Oil Massage completes this nurturing experience, after which you are invited to drink in the quiet beauty of this stunning location with a visit to the plunge pools high above the Gulf of Thailand, or by sampling Kamalaya’s inspired healthy cuisine overlooking the private white-sand beach.
But however you choose to improve you life in Thailand, it’s always nice to remember that this is a place where you don’t have to chase down beneficial experiences. At Kamalaya, for example, you are invited to reconnect to yourself, to drink from the well of silence and the divine potential within, the source from which all healing and creativity naturally arises. When we feel joyful and at peace, it is only natural to reach out to others and the world around with kindness and compassion.