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Make your Thai massage last with qigong

The benefits of Qigong are similar to the benefits of Thai massage, so practicing Qigong is the perfect way to extend the benefits of Thai massage.

As a Thai massage practitioner, I help clients restore their mobility. It is common for our joints to become increasingly constricted as we age, thus impeding our capacity for motion and suppleness. Regrettably, we tend to lead a more inactive lifestyle in Canada than in other cultures.

The Need for Mobility

Traditional Thai massage can release tight muscles and improve joint mobility by incorporating stretches and acupressure techniques. As a result, regular Thai massage treatments can enhance joint fluidity and minimize the risk of injury. However, the cost of frequent Thai massages can be a concern for some clients. Depending on their level of physical activity and workplace conditions, individuals may benefit from monthly or weekly Thai massages. This frequency would financially benefit me as a practitioner, but it may be cost-prohibitive for some clients.

For a Thai massage to have a lasting effect, I encourage my clients to incorporate intentional stretching or mobility exercises into daily routines. However, a common challenge arises when inactive clients struggle to start a mobility program due to limited movement. As a result, static stretches can be nearly impossible, leading to frustration among these clients.

However, even active clients who regularly exercise admit to neglecting their mobility work. Rather than taking the time to stretch and focus on flexibility, many find it dull and unproductive. They prioritize strength and cardio exercises during their hour-long sessions to maximize their limited training time, leaving little room for mobility work.

Standard stretching and mobility exercises suffer from two issues. Firstly, people tend to perceive these activities as tedious compared to regular exercise. While a demanding twenty to thirty-minute aerobic workout can induce the release of endorphins, resulting in a surge of energy for a few hours, a comparable duration of stretching or low-impact mobility will not elicit such a response. Consequently, individuals typically bypass the slower activities for more rigorous options.

Second, determining what to stretch and which stretching exercises to perform can be challenging. While searching Google for a stretching program may seem straightforward, most people need to know what muscles they should target. It is, therefore, essential to seek the appropriate advice to make informed decisions regarding your stretching routine.

Qigong and thai Massage

I strongly recommend embracing Qigong (cheeĀ·gung) as a beneficial exercise and healing technique for both active and inactive clients. Qigong originated in ancient China. Its movements synchronize body posture, movement, breathing, and meditation, and its popularity spans across the globe. People practice Qigong for various reasons, such as recreation, relaxation, preventative and alternative medicine, self-healing, meditation, self-cultivation, and training for martial arts.

I recommend Qigong to my clients for four reasons. Firstly, this practice emphasizes the harmonious coordination of movement and breath, a skill we often overlook in our daily routines. While administering Thai massages, it is not uncommon for me to remind my clients to refrain from holding their breath during stretches. During strenuous workouts, I often caution my clients to avoid the instinct to hold their breath while exerting themselves.

Effective breathing is crucial for physical activity, particularly during stretches and other exercises. Qigong is an excellent tool for learning how to breathe actively. With Qigong, every movement is synchronized with your breath, encouraging you to breathe slowly and deeply through your nose. This intentional practice re-teaches you how to breathe correctly. As a result, proper breathing promotes balance in your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, ultimately enhancing your physical performance.

Second, Qigong is efficacious in improving the range of motion through non-linear movement. Standard stretches and exercises are typically linear, moving in a straight line forward, backward, or side to side. While this type of movement is ideal for joints such as the knees and elbows, other joints such as the hips, shoulders, wrists, ankles, and neck require multi-directional movement for optimal mobility. Focusing solely on linear movement and stretching can result in limited mobility of these more complex joints, leading to difficulty in movements such as twisting the torso or performing circular motions. For example, many clients can touch their toes but struggle with complex movements.

With its fluid and non-linear nature, Qigong involves circular patterns during its forms that necessitate the full utilization and enhancement of the range of motion of one’s joints and muscles. Such circular movements aid in maintaining joint fluidity and reduce the likelihood of injury, promoting muscle flexibility and enhancing energy levels.

The third advantage of Qigong is that it follows a specific and consistent form that remains unchanged even as practitioners become more skilled. This consistency makes it accessible for busy individuals and less intimidating for those who may be less active. While Qigong forms are typically short, lasting between ten and fifteen minutes, they have been developed over hundreds of years and work in a very targeted manner on the body. For example, Dragon and Tiger Qigong involves seven movements that focus on the acupressure meridians of the body. In comparison, the Yi Jing Jing strengthens and improves the flexibility of tendons and ligaments, ultimately enhancing balance and coordination.

Finally, Qigong offers both aesthetic pleasure and personal fulfillment through its practice. Unlike conventional exercises and stretches, which can be tedious and unoriginal, Qigong movements are inspired by animals and objects, stimulating the imagination. For instance, executing the Tiger Springing on Its Prey movement imparts a sense of strength. At the same time, the Wind Swinging Lotus Leaves requires the practitioner to envision oneself as a gentle object swayed by the wind. In short, Qigong offers a dynamic and engaging approach to physical wellness.

Qigong facilitates a connection to one’s surroundings by mirroring the world. The flowing movements of Qigong not only bring about physical wellness but also promote interaction with the environment. Whereas routine exercise in outdoor spaces fails to engage with the surroundings, Qigong encourages attentiveness to one’s surroundings and deepens the connection to the environment.

Final Thoughts

Practicing Qigong offers similar benefits to Thai massage, including relieving muscle tension and soreness, improved flexibility and range of motion, reduced stress levels, and enhanced breathing and posture. It presents a perfect way to amplify the advantages of Thai massage, requiring only a small amount of consistent effort to attain positive results. Qigong is accessible to anyone, regardless of fitness level, and promises numerous benefits for those who incorporate it into their routine.

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