Raw, adjective: 4. painfully open, as a sore or wound.
I got spanked by a small Thai lady today. And it felt great.
Which leads me to another edition of Cool Hippie Shit You Should Really Know About. That being:
TRADITIONAL THAI MASSAGE
Yeah, yeah, not that kind of Thai massage. Though you could certainly find that a few blocks in any direction if you're looking for a happy ending. What I'm talking about here is the hardcore Ayurveda- and Buddhism-rooted tradition commonly known as Thai yoga massage that involves you and, in this case, the 4-foot-tall 90-pound Thai woman named Jum who walked on my back and yanked at my feet and rubbed the knots out of my right shoulder.
I've done Thai massage some in the past, but it's been a long time, and the ol' bod was not in good shape on waking this morning. My calf was still tight and fucked up, my head felt cloudy, and everything in general ached from the BBQ food over the weekend and too much cheese yesterday. Potato salad, feta, lots of pasta and grains, none of which will make you feel good, my friends.
So crabby-Rach hit acupuncture this morning and ended up looking quite like a voodoo doll, with lots of auricular points and four needles targeting my calf alone. And it helped, for sure, but I still felt like shit. And I had a couple of spare hours this afternoon, so I rolled down to La Biang Thai, a real-deal neighborhood Thai massage place that I'd heard consistent raves about, and booked an hour with Jum. And Jum pretty much saved the day. I walked out of there peaced-out, man.
Thai massage weaves in many of the same themes you'll find in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and yoga, in terms of identifying certain energy channels (sens) in the body and working to release blocked energy (prana, chi, etc.) so that the body and spirit can be better in balance. It restores alignment not unlike a chiropractor while simultaneously giving a deep, often-painful massage to the muscles and organs as the masseuse uses her feet, palms, thumbs, knees, etc. to open up your body. Among other things, Jum kneed my ass for a long time, walked on my back to release my spine, massaged my head and neck, and used her feet to open up my thighs and hamstrings. Cool shit. Seriously. And not pricey, especially when you go to the source like I did instead of some frou-frou parlor on Union or Chestnut that will charge you twice just for ambiance and expensive tea.
You're clothed in loose pants and a shirt, and the massage hits on literally everything from your head to your toes. I found out I have a tense abdomen beneath my sternum (who knew?) and flexible legs (knew that). But Jum & crew will also massage your feet, extend your fingers and toes, and circle your knees and hips. Now that I know more about the physiology of yoga than I did in the past, I could really see as Jum went along all the ways in which the massage flushes the lymphatic system, compresses and releases the blood, and improves circulation. There's a reason it's called "yoga for the lazy man." Really great shit. And I feel a million times better than I did 12 hours ago. (Although my face is somewhat puffy and swollen, which for some reason always happens to me after massage work. Lactic acid released and swimming around in there, methinks.) Bodywork Tuesday to the rescue.
For more info, the best resource I've found so far is here at Saul David Raye's site. Check it for photos and detailed historical info. And if you want to see a little in action, watch this clip: