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Health Benefits of Traditional Thai Dance
It is said that there are few performances more elegant and graceful than the traditional Thai
Dance – comprising graceful movements, brilliant colours, soft rhythms and a radiating
presence. The traditional Thai dance is symbolic of the Thai character itself. The art form is very
strict, employing 108 basic movements and keeping the body upright from the neck to the hips,
moving up and down using only the knees, and stretching to the rhythm of the music. A great
deal of symbolism is displayed in complex and beautifully executed finger and hand
Thai classical dances can be divided in to 3 major forms: Khon, Lakhon and Fawn Thai. Each of
these is accompanied by a special orchestra of traditional Thai musical instruments, with each
having its distinctive tempo and movement.
Khon: The most stylised form of Thai dance, performed by dancers who mime the action while
the story is being told or sung by a chorus. Dancers wear elaborate costumes and masks to
portray different characters that include demons, monkeys, humans and celestial beings.
Lakhon: Features a wider range of stories than Khon, including folk tales and Jataka stories.
The movements are graceful and sensual, portraying different emotions. The dancers are
usually female and perform as a group rather than representing individual characters.
Fawn Thai: Originally an art performed in the royal courts of old Siam where precision and
beauty were the highlights of every performance.
Thai traditional dance is not just entertaining, but it is also, in fact, an excellent form of
exercise, physical therapy and meditation. A combination of Thai dance and music can help
patients to improve movement, mobility and balance, since each dance movement is
harmonized with the musical rhythm and works all major muscle groups in your body.
It is a good low-impact exercise for patients with Parkinson’s disease. The Thai dance
movements require patients to keep the back straight and stretch the elbows, shoulder joints
and fingers. They also have to learn to shift their weight to the rhythm. Therefore, traditional
Thai dancing can improve a body’s balance and prevent joint stiffening. It can help to stretch
the muscles and strengthen them as well.
Patients can do just one Thai traditional dance movement, but get the same physical benefit as
doing two or three physical therapy based exercises. For example, Pom-See-Nah
(ท่าพรหมสี่หน้า) and Nok-Yoong-Fon-Hang
(ท่านกยู งฟ้อนหาง); increase the movement around shoulder joints and wrist areas as well as help to stretch flexor muscles. Sawt-Soi-Ma-La
(ท่าสอดสร้อยมาลา ); exercise fingers, especially the thumb and index fingers. Marn-Gub-Lung
(ท่ามารกลับหลัง); exercise leg muscles and hips, stretch lower back, etc.
Thai traditional dance is beneficial for all ages, genders, shapes and sizes. It is also a perfect
workout for seniors and patients recovering from knee surgery or paralysis. Due to the unique
character of Thai traditional music, which has a slow rhythm in the beginning and gradually
increases in rhythm towards the end, helps patients to increase their exercise speed naturally.