Other than a well-trained therapist, the essential elements for basic Thai massage are space and a suitable mat. Fortunately, space criteria are flexible. “Typically, Thai massage would not even be done in a private room,” explains Place 360’s Whynot. “There would be an open space where clients were side by side, separated by drapes.”
Mats are available in foams and cottons of various thicknesses, and some can be rolled to stash away if a dedicated area is impossible. “The mat needs to be thick enough to protect the knees of the therapist and dense enough to provide balance while standing on it,” says Spirit Winds’ Vitavec. “Also, you might want to add some pillows and bolsters that can adjust clients’ body alignment and protect the ergonomics of the therapist.”
Whynot has some ideas for setting up a Thai massage practice. “If you can have a dedicated area, let clients use it for treatment-related purposes,” she suggests. “Maybe they can stretch and relax there. You can also make it a tea room.” She suggests Asian music for its trademark soothing wind, string and percussive sounds. A water feature is also appropriate for a Thai massage space.
For Thai massage supplies, visit:
• Massage Warehouse & Spa Essentials, 888.918.2253, massagewarehouse.com
• New Life Systems, 800.852.3082, newlifesystems.com
• Sa-Wan, 866.680.5149, sa-wan.com
• Universal Companies, 800-558-5571, universalcompanies.com
Learning the Art
When it comes to Thai massage, authentic training is essential for both therapist and client safety. Although many practitioners travel to Thailand to study, there are plenty of training options closer to home. Schools typically offer ongoing programs, weekend intensives, and can even arrange to come to your spa and train an entire massage team. Listed below are some well-respected options from near and far.
In the United States:
• Thai Institute of Healing Arts, Arlington,VA, 703.522.8424, thai-institute.com
• Spirit Winds School of Thai Massage & Intl. Healing Center, Nevada City, CA, 530.265.2404, spiritwinds.net
• Thai Bodywork School of Thai Massage, Evanston, IL, 847.440.7525, thaibodywork.com
• The Naga Center School of Traditional Thai Massage and Medicine, Portland, OR, 503.473.4268,nagacenter.org
• Thai Massage School of Chiang Mai, tmcschool.com
• International Training Massage School, itmthaimassage.com
• WATPO Thai Traditional Medical School, watpomassage.com
• Old Medicine Hospital, oldmedicinehospital.com
To learn more about Thai massage and related therapies, and discover networking and training options, contact the International Thai Therapists Association, 706.358.8646, thaimassage.com.
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