What is Thai Yoga Massage?


Thai Yoga Massage is an energy work therapy that originated in Thailand. In its country of origin is called Nuat Phaen Boran or Nuat Thai.

Its roots reach back to the traditional forms of healing practised for centuries by the local healers. Its principles are influenced by indigenous Thai medicine, Chinese medicine, Yoga, Ayurveda and Buddhism.

This form of healing works according to the principles of a network of energy lines (sen) and the body’s energy (lom). Through the relaxation or stimulation of the lom – the therapist frees the energy and helps to restart the natural healing processes influencing the client’s body and mind.

This practice is quite different from other forms of western massage as there’s no oil used, the client remains clothed during the treatment, and the therapist uses the mattress on the floor rather than a massage table. It involves acupressure and yoga-like stretching. Some people describe this therapy as “someone doing yoga to you”.

Clinical trials have shown that Thai Yoga Massage can decrease stress, treat back pain, prevent bone degeneration, increase range of motion and muscular strength, and contribute to psychological well-being. Areas of ongoing research include Thai Yoga Massage’s ability to improve circulation, flexibility and muscle tone.

This therapy is especially suitable for those who are stiff, sore and tired from over-exertion in work or sports. However, people with serious physical problems should consult their qualified medical professional before taking a Thai Yoga Massage therapy course. It’s not intended to cure diseases of internal organs, chronic injuries and degenerative conditions, even if the benefits of Thai Yoga Massage can be really wonderful.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of Thai Yoga Massage – you may read the next article: Benefits of Thai Yoga Massage. From the intuitive act of healing to scientific research.


Origins of Yoga


Yoga has different meanings for different people. To have a clearer understanding of what Yoga is – it’s worth exploring its origins and also the contemporary forms of it. Tracking back to the origins of Yoga, we find that it is an ancient spiritual path that originated in India, where Yoga practitioners were seeking to experience the union with universal consciousness, so-called enlightenment (Samadhi). Hence, various physical and meditative exercises were designed and practised to restrict the fluctuations of the mind and get closer to Samadhi.

Nowadays, Yoga has become a massive industry with many brands and products, chains of studios, and patented physical exercise programs. It just happened that for most people, Yoga earned the label of physical flexibility and the ability to place body parts into unusual positions. Of course, there is a part of truth in this kind of thinking because stretching and strengthening the body is one of the vital steps on the path of Yoga, but there are quite a few more other steps on this path. So what are they? One can find the original description of the path of Yoga in the “Yoga Sutras” written by sage Patanjali.

Patanjali describes Yoga as an eight-fold path (Ashtanga) consisting of:

5 Yamas, 5 Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi.

5 Yamas – 5 ethical conducts

BrahmacharyaAbstinence / Moderation of sexual activity

5 Niyamas – 5 self disciplines

Isvara PranidhanaThe realization that there is something much bigger, more significant, and stronger than the individual self.

ASANA – physical exercises designed to heal, cleanse and strengthen the physical body and its subtle systems.

PRANAYAMA – cultivating subtle energy (Prana) with a help of breathing exercises. Also, understanding the connection between the breath and the mind.

PRATYAHARA – experiencing stillness beyond the stimulations of the senses.

DHARANA – various concentration practices intended to gain the ability to focus the mind and observe without judgment.

DHYANA – keeping the mind still without the object of concentration and experiencing being in the present moment (meditation).

SAMADHI – transcending the limitations of the body, mind, and consciousness, experiencing the ultimate freedom.


Benefits of Thai Yoga Massage. From the intuitive act of healing to scientific research.

Thai Yoga Massage is part of Traditional Thai Medicine and has served local communities in treating various ailments since ancient times. Initially, it emerged from the intuitive applied-pressure practices of indigenous cultures in pre-modern Thailand (Siam), and then it assimilated cultural influences from India and China. It was also time-tested, matured, refined and handled from generation to generation (from masters to disciples), scrupulously preserved in Buddhist temples, and eventually gifted to the rest of the world. With such a long history of evolution, in the 90s, devoted professionals like Dr C. Pierce Salguero and David Roylance introduced this art of healing to western societies. Since then, a new wave of western practitioners of Thai Yoga Massage emerged.
Regardless of this treatment already being living proof of a great source of health and well-being in the east, some academic minds decided to apply scientific methodology to test the validity of such claims. Because the results were fascinating – scientists did a great job by paving a path to the recognition of Thai Yoga Massage as an excellent alternative treatment to various ailments and improved quality of life.

So what are the results? Researchers concluded that Thai Yoga massage has the following benefits:

Pain reductions [1] [2] [4]
Improvements in disability and perceived muscle tension [2] [4]
Increased flexibility [5] [13]
Decrease in anxiety and depression [2] [3]
Increase in functional ability [3]
Increased quality of life [3]
Reduced lower back pain (chronic, non-specific) [4]
Decreasing spasticity (has the same effect as physical therapy) [3]
Enhanced health-related physical fitness [5]
Enhanced athletic performance [6]
Decrease of lactic acid and blood glucose levels [7]
Positive effect on chronic tension-type and migraine headaches [8] [9]
Reduced psychological stress. Increased parasympathetic activity, decreased sympathetic activity [10]
Enhanced physical, emotional and mental wellbeing through improved sleep, relaxation, relief of stress and relief of muscular tension. Energising and psychological stimulation [11]
Positive effects on immunity [12]
Better balance and increased range of motion of the foot [13]
Improved behaviours in autistic children [14]


  1. Keattichai Keeratitanont, Mark P Jensen, Uraiwan Chatchawan, Paradee Auvichayapat (2015). The efficacy of traditional Thai massage for the treatment of chronic pain: A systematic review. PubMed, National Library of Medicine.
  2. Vitsarut Buttagat, Wichai Eungpinichpong, Uraiwon Chatchawan, Preeda Arayawichanon (2011). Therapeutic effects of traditional Thai massage on pain, muscle tension and anxiety in patients with scapulocostal syndrome: a randomized single-blinded pilot study. PubMed, National Library of Medicine.
  3. Thanitta Thanakiatpinyo, Supakij Suwannatrai, Ueamphon Suwannatrai, Phanitanong Khumkaew, Dokmai Wiwattamongkol, Manmas Vannabhum, Somluck Pianmanakit, Vilai Kuptniratsaikul (2014). The efficacy of traditional Thai massage in decreasing spasticity in elderly stroke patients. PubMed, National Library of Medicine.
  4. Chantip Juntakarn, MA, Thavat Prasartritha, MD, and Prapoj Petrakard, MD (2017). The Effectiveness of Thai Massage and Joint Mobilization – PMC. PubMed, National Library of Medicine.
  5. Chuenjid Kongkaew, Parinya Lertsinthai, Katechan Jampachaisri, Pajaree Mongkhon, Peerapong Meesomperm, Kunwarang Kornkaew, Phichamon Malaiwong (2018). The Effects of Thai Yoga on Physical Fitness: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Control Trials. PubMed. National Library of Medicine.
  6. Chanawong Hongsuwan, Wichai Eungpinichpong, Uraiwan Chatchawan, Junichiro Yamauchi (2015). Effects of Thai massage on physical fitness in soccer players. PubMed, National Library of Medicine.
  7. Wulan Fitri Utami, Nurkholis Nurkholis, Edy Mintarto (Jun 2017). The Effect of Thai Massage and Sport Massage on Decreasing Low Acids and Blood Glucose. The Effect of Thai Massage and Sport Massage on Decreasing Low Acids and Blood Glucose. Journal of physical education health and sport.
  8. Uraiwan Chatchawan, Wichai Eungpinichpong, Suparat Sooktho, Somsak Tiamkao, Junichiro Yamauchi (2014). Effects of Thai traditional massage on pressure pain threshold and headache intensity in patients with chronic tension-type and migraine headaches. PubMed, National Library of Medicine.
  9. Peerada Damapong, Naowarat Kanchanakhan, Wichai Eungpinichpong, Prasobsook Putthapitak, Pongmada Damapong (2015). A Randomized Controlled Trial on the Effectiveness of Court-Type Traditional Thai Massage versus Amitriptyline in Patients with Chronic Tension-Type Headache. PubMed, National Library of Medicine.
  10. Thanarat Sripongngam, Wichai Eungpinichpong, Dhavee Sirivongs, Jaturat Kanpittaya, Kamonwan Tangvoraphonkchai, Sutin Chanaboon (2015). Immediate Effects of Traditional Thai Massage on Psychological Stress as Indicated by Salivary Alpha-Amylase Levels in Healthy Persons. PubMed, National Library of Medicine.
  11. Alasdair MacSween, Susan Lorrimer, Paul van Schaik, Marie Holmes and Anna van Hersch (2018) A randomised crossover trial comparing Thai and Swedish massage for fatigue and depleted energy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Volume 22, Issue 3, July 2018, Pages 817-828.
  12. Kanda Sornkayasit, Amonrat Jumnainsong, Wisitsak Phoksawat, Wichai Eungpinichpong, Chanvit Leelayuwat (2021). Traditional Thai Massage Promoted Immunity in the Elderly via Attenuation of Senescent CD4+ T Cell Subsets: A