Thai Spa Traditions

August 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Culture, Exotic South East, Nature

Thai Spa Traditions - Feel Good Therapies

Feel-good therapies and natural healing are the lifestyle mantras of the new millennium. Thailand leads the way in this regard, reviving many of its ancient techniques and treatments that have been handed down from one generation of women to the next.

Thai massage and meditation are amongst some of the best in the world, with a full range of services from full beauty treatments, facials, relaxing baths and scrubs, healthy tonics and much more. Plenty of the following Thai Spa traditions have been incorporated into various therapeutic services throughout the world. Their roots can be traced back to the ancient medical knowledge that made their way from India through Buddhist monks.?

Herbal Steam Treatments

Thai Herbal Steam is one of the best known of the traditional therapies, tracing its roots back to ancient times. Different healers have formulated specialized treatments to cure various health conditions, but one common after-effect is the fantastic therapeutic effects on your body. Step into a dreamy, misty room and simply lie back and let the steam vapors do their job. For total indulgence combine your herbal steam with a massage – the heat from the steam relaxes your muscles in preparation for a thorough stretch by the masseur!

The folks at the popular Tamarind Retreat Steam Bath on the island of Koh Samui claim that their steam treatment aids respiration, relieves sinusitis, bronchial asthma and stimulates circulation. Guests can enjoy alternating bouts of warmth in the steam room and cooling dips in their plunge pool. Tamarind leaves are one of the key ingredients in their herbal steam, with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, beach morning glory and many other ingredients completing the set.

Thai Spa Traditions - Feel Good Therapies

Herbal Heat Compress

The origins of the Thai Herbal heat compress are obscure, but they are known to be popular since 200 years ago, and can also be found in neighboring Burma, Cambodia and Laos. The round cotton bundles contains herbal mixtures that vary from region to region, each with their local plants and herbs. These herbal compresses are now packaged and sold commercially in Bangkok, or you can simply create your own with various combinations of herbs.

Called prakopin Thai, the herbal compress has made their way into modern spa treatments all over the world, with varying combinations of ingredients. Generally, there are several standard ingredients that can be found inside these herbal compresses, each with their own medical benefits – lemongrass helps clear up the skin; turmeric helps soothe and cleanse irritated skin; prai ginger is a natural moisturizer; and kaffir lime help to tone the skin. These herbal compresses are excellent to soothe sore and aching muscles.

To enjoy these refreshing spa treatments to the fullest, you need to find an appropriate setting, one of peace, quiet and relaxation. While it is true that many places in southern Thailand are overcrowded, it is still possible to find a secluded hideaway for some rest and relaxation – check out our top tips for peace and quiet in South Thailand!

Thai Spa Traditions - Feel Good Therapies

Body Wraps

Thai herbal practitioners have long recognized that the application of heat on the skin enhances the healing effects of herbs. Hence, modern day spas have adapted this concept to create the Thai herbal body wrap. As the body lies in herbal wrap, the combination of heat and herbs takes effect. The heat helps open the pores, allowing for better absorption of the ingredients into the skin, and the herbal wrap works to detoxify, moisturize and soften the skin.

Just like other traditional treatments, various herbs combination are used for differing therapeutic benefits. Some of the more common ingredients are – Thai white mud, to help draw out impurities and heal wounds; mint, as antiseptic and antibacterial; tamarind, which contains vitamin C and calcium; honey, to heal and moisturize the skin; and milk, to soften the skin.

Thai Spa Traditions - Feel Good Therapies

Thai Floral Fragrances

The tradition of using floral garlands is deeply rooted in Thai culture, a delicate art that has been passed down throughout the generations. Part of every Thai girl’s education consisted of patiently stripping petals from bunches of freshly cut flowers and learning how to make an exquisite garland from them. Jasmine is the main flower used in garlands, with champak, red roses and purple orchids added for visual effects as well as layers of subtle aroma. These favored flowers of Thailand are often used in contemporary spa treatments to add layers of relaxation for the guests.

If you are planning a visit to Asia, don’t forget to check out Unearthing Asia, the best Asia travel portal focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. We have got some of the best late hol deals and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of Singapore’s best romantic views.

The Morning Ritual

September 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Culture, Exotic South East

It is well before dawn in the paradise land of the Gods of Bali, Indonesia. As the sun approaches, the ladies of Bali are dutifully performing a morning ritual which has been the tradition since centuries past. To outsiders, it is but a simple day-to-day offering and morning preparation of food, but in the tradition of Bali, the “ngejot” offerings are so much more than that.

Photo credits - kcl_seattle

Photo credits - kcl_seattle

This morning ritual begins with the Balinese women rising well before dawn to prepare for ngejot. It is considered extremely impolite to eat before the ritual, so people will abstain from eating until the ritual is finished. The preparation begins at the same time the morning meal is prepared, and similarly as well – by boiling water and cooking rice.

The Balinese believes that “ngejot” will keep a harmonious relationship between the world of the humans and the world of the Gods, and as such it is a ritual that you would always see every morning in the houses of local Balinese. The ritual is prepared in the kitchen, a sacred place according to Balinese tradition, as well as the various tools used to prepare the ritual offerings.

Photo credits - StrudelMonkey

Photo credits - StrudelMonkey

Once the rice is cooked, it is then time to assemble the “nasi jotan” which will be used as prayer offerings. Using banana palm leaves cut into small squares, the rice is placed accordingly and on top of a traditional holy bamboo tray known as “kumarang”. Additional decoration are placed on top of these rice offering as a way to appease the Gods.

A Balinese lady will then prepare herself for the ritual – she must put on a “kamben”, a traditional Balinese sarong, worn with a “santeng” that is tied around their waist at the beginning of the ritual. The prayer offerings are to be palced around various points of the kitchen and areas of the house as an offering to the God, a way of saying thank you for keeping the harmony intact.

The ritual gives one an insight into the local culture of Bali, a place where religious mysticism abounds, and the magical often comes alive. The Balinese believes that a proper “ngejot” will help the kitchen become a source of protection, and will help repel negative energies or attacks from the world of the spirits.

About the Author. Char Magalong. Char Magalong, freelance web designer and programmer, spent two years living, working and traveling in Singapore. Another two years stint right after that in Malaysia led to homesickness, after which she promptly returned to the Philippines. With her myriad of treasured experiences for apt comparison, she comments regularly on the beauty of Philippines and its surrounding country side.