A Lotus Flower in the Garden
For the past 3 weeks, we have been living in a small village about 10 km outside of Chiang Mai. The property consists of several old style Thai teak homes and luscious gardens filled with medicinal herbs grown by the proprietor, Homprang Chaleekanha. We are learning a special blend of Thai massage techniques, Thai acupressure, and herbal knowledge that our teacher learned growing up with her grandma in a jungle village and that she refined in her doctorate program in Thai Traditional Medicine.
The Sauna before a steam
The days go by fast here! We are awakened every morning by the roosters’ crows around 6:30am. After that we do Thai yoga to get the body ready for the day. Thai Yoga is a breath based technique more similar to Tai Chi than vinyasa flow yoga. After a light breakfast we train in Thai Massage for 3 hours. We break for a delicious lunch (Pad Thai, spring rolls, make your own noodle soup, etc…) and continue training until late afternoon. After every day of hard training, we relax our muscles in the custom built herbal steam sauna on the premise. The family uses a blend of herbs they grow in the garden for the sauna. There is Zingiber (an anti-inflammatory root similar to ginger in appearance), Turmeric, Tamarind, tea tree oil, kaffir lime skin, lemon grass, and camphor. It smells wonderful and after cleaning out all the toxins it feels wonderful to dip in the cold pool outside the sauna afterwards. Right after the sauna, all students and guests top the night with a traditional Thai meal and the company of Homprang and her husband Christopher.
We have Saturdays off and we usually head into town for some entertainment. We have met many wonderful people from all over the world here including several from Springfield, MO!!! That was probably the most random coincidence yet! Some of these guys are already planning a trip to Bulgaria to visit us and we are planning several trips to other countries to visit the other friends we have made here!
Neda, Homprang, and Candace
Our teacher Homprang is a truly fascinating person. She grew up in a small village in the Kanchanaburi area of Thailand. There was no electricity, dirt floors in the homes, a limited monetary system (barter was the main economic interaction) and no hospital. To fill that gap, her family acted as traditional medicine doctors that passed the skill on from generation to generation. They used Thai massage and herbs to treat medical problems in the community. Homprang grew up walking on her grandparents to learn Thai Massage and often helped them prepare herbal tonics, teas, and compresses for medicinal purposes. One fascinating technique that Homprang taught us from her grandmother was the ancient practice of “womb lifting”. Nearly every woman in our class had a tilted or prolapsed uterus that caused them pain in everyday life or during their periods. Often overlooked by Western medicine, a displaced uterus can play a major issue in infertility, urinary incontinence, and chronic low back pain. The Western solution is usually some form of surgery, but through this massage and acupressure technique, the body is relaxed and the uterus restored to its proper place. Many women in our class experienced immediate relief – it was amazing to see!
As we have deepened our understanding of Thai massage, we can’t help but notice the similarities of this body work with yoga, meditation, and spiritual growth. As you work with the body, you notice how the breath of the receiver and giver blend and become one. Feeling the muscles relax under your elbow, knee, or thumb, is a release of tension for both. As you move through different positions through the massage, you find yourself in many yoga postures stretching your body as you are helping the person on your mat. In the end, the aim of the practice is not to heal the body, but to make space for the body to heal itself – an activity its been doing quite well for thousands of years.
This experience has allowed us a very unique glimpse of Thai culture as we have gotten to know Homprang’s family and their history. We are thankful to have gained a deeper knowledge of how to heal our bodies and a deeper understanding of Thai people. A few more days here and then we head North to Laos! In the meantime, if you want to get on the waitlist for some free Thai Massge, make sure to leave us a comment or send us a note! See all the pics of our time at Baan Hom here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjys6Vs9