Thai massage, also known as Thai yoga massage, is very different from your standard Swedish or deep-tissue massage.
For starters, people can keep their clothes on. Secondly, Thai massage involves a wide range of movements and techniques that resemble almost like a dance between the partner and practitioner.
Here’s what to expect during a Thai massage and the research behind its numerous health benefits.
What does a Thai massage include?
Performed on the floor or a firm mat, a typical Thai massage session lasts around 90 minutes. Practitioners use their entire bodies, including their hands, elbows, feet, and knees to stand, kneel, or walk on the recipient and create deep pressure.
Unlike Swedish massage, oils are not used during Thai massage. Clients usually begin lying on their back with their face up, while the therapist starts massaging the feet and continues to move up the legs, “applying pressure with a rhythmic, rocking motion using the palms of their hands and thumbs,” says Sarah Seely, RYT, CST, CTYMT, a Somatic healer, Thai massage therapist, teacher and founder of Thai Brooklyn.
Next, the client is guided into a series of stretches targeting the legs, hips, and lower back.
“Thai massage has been called the ‘lazy man’s yoga’ because as a recipient, you need only relax and allow the practitioner to take over moving your body for you,” says Seely. “At most, your participation will be to breathe on certain cues to help deepen into stretches.”
Seely says a skilled therapist will be able to adjust how much pressure is being offered during a session. “Be sure to let them know ahead of time how much pressure you prefer and speak up if you are at all uncomfortable during your session,” she says.
Benefits of Thai massage
Thai massage is a form of therapeutic massage that typically falls in the category of complementary and alternative medicines.
It is a deeply relaxing, tension-relieving practice of mindful movement that helps increase an individual’s range of motion and encourages flexibility through its unique blend of assisted stretching, yoga, breathwork, and massage.
According to Seely, Thai massage is popular with athletes and sports enthusiasts as a recovery method. While most of the studies are small, some science-backed health benefits include:
1. Improved circulation
2. Improved mobility
3. Improved immune system
4. Eases chronic lower back pain
5. Lowered anxiety
6. Improved energy levels
7. Stress reduction
8. Headache relief