When you think of going to get a massage, you think about being a passive participant, lying under a blanket as a massage therapist presses and kneads your muscles. A Thai yoga massage is a completely different experience. There is a practitioner who uses their palms to knead your muscles, but they will also twist you, stretch you, and use their feet, thumbs and fists to work on your body. Asanas are also part of Thai massage.

Though the techniques differ greatly, Thai massage can be just as beneficial as a traditional massage, if not more so. The practice of Thai massage promotes positive energy circulation, so that you are able to feel balanced and refreshed. Thai yoga massage has many other benefits too, including the reduction of pain and stress.

Thai massage is traditionally performed on the floor, while you are on a mat through the process of the practitioner guiding you through partner yoga poses and manipulating your body into deep stretches. Some traditional massage techniques, such as acupressure, compression and joint mobilization, are also used, but lotions are not applied and you remain fully clothed for the entire session.

Techniques of Thai massage and their benefits include:

Enhanced energy flow: Thai massage works off of the belief that tightened muscles lead to a diminished flow of energy in your body. When energy is unable to flow freely, you become inflexible, suffer pain and feel stiff. The more time that passes, the more your muscles will shorten and this will affect posture, immunity and organ function, which in turn accelerates the aging process and risk for disability. The pressing techniques used in Thai massage are designed to increase blood circulation to support improved flow of oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. It also helps your body to remove waste more efficiently. Adding stretching techniques to the massage process will help to relax the muscles even more, so they are able to naturally regain flexibility and tone.

Pain relief: As an alternative method in dealing with chronic pain, Thai yoga massage has been particularly effective. A study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies in 2012 showed that people suffering from scapulocostal syndrome, a condition that affects the back of the shoulder blade, who participated in 9 30-minutes Thai massage sessions over three weeks, improved in terms of pain intensity, pain threshold and muscle tension.

Headache relief: Applying pressure against specific meridians in the body, called court-type Thai massage, has been shown to be an effective treatment for people suffering from chronic tension headaches.

Stress reduction: Studies indicate that Thai yoga massage reduces enzymatic markers of stress and in turn reduces overall stress levels.