What is Thai Yoga Massage?

By Barney • July 17th, 2012

Barney Green, Thai Massage Therapist

Traditional Thai Yoga Massage is practised all across Thailand, and people around the world are increasingly discovering the benefits of this practise for maintaining physical and emotional good health. The massage takes place on a large mat on the floor, and the client remains fully clothed throughout the treatment, so it’s a good idea to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes.   Sessions usually last about 90 minutes and involve acupressure and reflexology techniques,  and stretching and breathing exercises.  Since it has a basis in Yoga teaching,  it also incorporates many  positions similar to yoga asanas.

Thai Yoga Massage originated in India and arrived in Thailand at the same time as Buddhism around the 3rd Century BC.  It’s said that the original founder was a contemporary of Buddha, a physician called Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha. The Thai Yoga Massage that is practised today has developed from  a combination of influences from the traditional systems of medicine from India, China and Southeast Asia in general.  Because of this diversity, there is no one rigid practical framework accepted by all practioners, and there are noticeable differences in Thai Yoga Massage between regions of Thailand.

In 2004,  I learned from aspects of both the ‘Northern Style’ at Chiang Mai and the ‘Southern Style’ at Wat Pho, which is in Bangkok and also home to the famous huge gold ‘Reclining Buddha’.  I had resolved to travel to Thailand to deepen my knowledge and practise of Thai Yoga Massage as I had been so inspired by the course I had taken in the subject in London the previous year.  After the course had finished, the teacher took us out for a Thai meal,  and she explained how Thai cusine aimed to creatively stimulate all five tastes.  I found this so colourful and thrilling, I just knew I had to go to Thailand to develop my practise.  This way of looking at food is similar to Thai Yoga Massage, because it encompasses so many different techniques that some people refer to it as “three-dimensional massage”.

Thai Yoga Massage is suitable for most and I always adapt my treatment to the client’s specific needs, although pregnant women and those with conditions such as osteoporosis should check with their health professional before booking a session.  From sportspeople to desk workers, shop staff to carers, Thai Yoga Massage is a particularly exciting therapy as the fact that the client isn’t static means that they can be engaged in their own healing through the energy flow between client and practitioner.

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