Home Sweet Baan Hom

It would not be an overstatement to say that Baan Hom Samunphrai is one of my favourite places in the world. I arrive, the phone goes off, the emails are neglected and Facebook is forgotten. For the entire time I am there, I feel cocooned. We all need a place like that!

I always visit my teacher Homprang and her family when I come to Chiang Mai, ever since my first experience at the school four years ago. When I contacted Homprang’s husband Christopher to arrange our stay, he suggested I join the Womblifting course that was running. My initial thought was “That sounds a bit weird” but, equally, any time spent learning with Homprang is going to interesting and beneficial, so I signed up.

Day One: Examinations
There were nine of us in the class, and the first day was spent simply getting our hands on each other and assessing the position of our uterus, as well as the general feeling of our abdominal area. Homprang examined each of us first, then asked us all for feedback on what we were feeling as we examined each other. It was fascinating. Nearly everyone had a particular area of tension, or changes that indicated some sort of imbalance, and there was a massive variation throughout the group. We had a few curve balls, such as ladies who had had hysterectomies, IUDs, and then there were the men! We joked about “Sympathetic Wombs”!

Day Two: Massage time
This type of treatment is designed to help rebalance the abdominal area, both for men and women, although the focus is on certain conditions such as prolapse, which is common following pregnancy. The ” Womblifting” element is specifically targeting this. We were shown a treatment sequence, using a combination of acupressure points and energy line work on the legs, back, hips and abdomen, as well as specialised massage for the abdominal area. It was certainly a very intense day, both giving and receiving the treatment. By its nature, the treatment sequence requires a lot of thumb work, something I usually try to avoid too much of, and a heck of a lot of core strength to maintain your position for the duration of the sequence! I was certainly glad of the gym classes I had been attending prior to my trip!

Day Three and Four: Clay pots!
An additional part of the treatment is using heat to reinforce the work we had been doing with the massage sequence. This is done using a clay pot filled with salt, heated on a barbeque, wrapped in medicinal leaves and herbs, which is then used to massage the areas we have already worked on.

So we had a field trip! Homprang grows all the herbs she uses in the school, and in the kitchen, so off we went armed with a basket and a hoe to dig up roots. The rest of the morning was spent pounding herbs and spices in the pestle and mortar and preparing the pots for the afternoon practice. The heat felt absolutely divine, and we especially liked the very fetching outfits that we were given to wear for the treatment, as the turmeric stains your clothes terribly. Tie dye shorts anyone??

Day Five: Herbal Hotbed!
Today things got even more bizarre. We prepared the herbal hotbed. A wooden bench, covered with herbs and leaves, with charcoal burners underneath. Its kinda like being grilled. In a good way. The perfect way to round off the five days.

The course was fascinating. Definitely something that I may struggle to recreate back in Edinburgh. Open fires in the clinic anyone? And a distinct lack of access to fresh Thai herbs. But just to study in the presence of somebody with the depth of knowledge and wisdom that Homprang has was a real privilege, and can only benefit me as a practitioner.

It was also interesting to note the cultural considerations and beliefs involved in the treatment, and especially the way that women are traditionally treated following childbirth. Instead of being sent home and expected to get on with their life, same as before (as well as bringing up a baby) in Thailand, the new mum is expected to rest and recuperate and meanwhile the family rally round to take care of her, under the guidance of the midwife. This is something that has largely died out due to changing times and Thailand adopting a lot of Western customs and attitudes.

By the end of the five days, Baan Hom had worked its magic. I felt rested, relaxed, rejuvinated by 5 days of massage, daily runs before breakfast, delicious healthy food, daily herbal steam sauna treatments and a simply beautiful, relaxing setting filled with lovely people. Before I knew it, it was time to leave the Baan Hom bubble and head into the city for the next phase of the Thai adventure…

…Incidentally, I am happy to report that, upon examination on day one, Homprang proclaimed that I felt totally balanced in my abdominal area. Practically perfect in every way. I have the Mary Poppins of wombs! Eeeeeeexcellent!