Add as bookmark

What is Thai Yoga Massage?

by Amy Ku Redler(more info)

listed in thai yoga massage and bodywork, originally published in issue 172 - July 2010

These days many of us feel we don't have enough time to fulfil our many commitments, let alone make time for ourselves. We're just too busy. We find ourselves overly stressed, anxious, in pain or run down. At such times, we need some help. I know this from my own experience. My work has helped me to learn, and continues to teach me how to live a happier and healthier life.

Daisy Kidney Stretch
  Kidney Stretch

Too often it takes a crisis for us to awaken to the need for help. But you don't have to wait until a crisis occurs. Increasingly, people are turning to ways of prevention and help that have been practised for thousands of years. I was introduced to and trained in Thai Yoga Massage in Thailand, India and the UK and have practised and taught TYM in the UK since 1991.

Thai Yoga Massage is a truly therapeutic treatment which delivers benefits on every level - spiritual, physical, mental and emotional. It can be compared to a deep and meaningful MOT for the mind, body and spirit, washing away the stresses and strains of everyday living and bringing you back to your essential self.

Rooted in yoga philosophy and practice, it is effective as prevention as well as in treatment of many common ailments, including:
  • IBS;
  • Insomnia;
  • Low energy;
  • Corporate stress and well being;
  • Fatigue;
  • Back pain;
  • Low energy.
Each treatment is tailor-made to suit the needs of the individual person, and brings penetrating massage and gentle yoga movements into a profound healing system. It leaves both the client and the practitioner feeling deeply nourished, relaxed, and filled with energy.



Asokananda, who died in 2005, was arguably the leading Western teacher of Traditional Thai Yoga Massage. The author of The Art of Traditional Thai Massage, he researched and taught Thai massage, Yoga and Vipassana meditation for more than 15 years, personally training and authorising some of the most established teachers of Thai massage in the West.

The Art of traditional Thai Massage

In some of his writings, Asokananda explained that traditional Thai massage can look back at a long history of therapeutic healing.

He explained: "If one traces the evolution of the techniques of healing massage practised in Thailand, one discovers the astonishing fact that the earliest roots of Thai massage lie not in Thailand but in India. The legendary founder of the art is believed to have been a doctor from Northern India. Known as Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, he was a contemporary of the Buddha and personal physician to the Magadha King Bimbisara over 2,500 years ago. The teachings of Kumar Bhaccha probably reached what is now Thailand at the same time as Buddhism - as early as the 3rd or 2nd century BC."


Asokananda  went on: "The theoretical foundation of Thai massage is based on the concept of invisible energy lines running through the body. The Indian origin and influence is obvious here since the background of this theory clearly lies in Yoga philosophy. Yoga philosophy states that life energy (called Prana) is absorbed with the air we breathe and with the food that we eat. Along a network of energy lines, the Prana Nadis, the human being is then supplied with this vital energy. Out of these energy lines Thai massage has selected 10 main lines on which there are especially important acupressure points. Massaging these lines and points makes it possible to treat a whole range of diseases or to relieve pain. The 10 mainlines are sufficient to conduct practical treatment for the whole body and its internal organs. Disturbances in the flow of energy result in an insufficient supply of  Prana, which will in turn lead to sickness. Working on the energy lines with massage can break the blocks, stimulate the free flow of Prana, and help to restore general well-being." 

As he explained, looking back at the tradition of Thai massage, it is clear that it was never seen as a mere job. Massage was always considered to be a spiritual practice closely connected with the teachings of the Buddha. And until fairly recently, massage was taught and practised in the Buddhist temple.

Giving of massage was understood to be a physical application of Metta, the Pali and Thai word to denote 'loving kindness' - and devoted masseurs still work in such a spirit today. That is the reason my partners and I chose Metta as the name when we set up our teaching college several years ago.

A good practitioner performs the massage in a meditative mood, starting with a meditative prayer to fully centre him or herself on the healing he is about to perform. He/she works with full awareness, mindfulness and concentration, which means there is a world of a difference between a massage performed in a meditative mood and a massage just done as a job. This meditative mood allows the masseur to develop an intuition for the energy flow in the body and for the Prana lines. 

Unlike Western-style massage, traditional Thai massage does not primarily work with the physical body, but with the energy body of the person. Kneading of muscles is absent from Thai massage; instead, energy points are pressed or general pressure is used. There is also a lot of stretching involved and some of the exercises could be described as 'applied physical Yoga'.

Back Walking
Back Walking

In Thai Yoga Massage, the therapist uses hands, feet and elbows to apply pressure to important points along these energy lines, in combination with gentle stretching and applied Hatha Yoga. This releases blocked energy and frees the body's own natural healing potential, restoring balance, health and harmony, and a feeling of wellbeing.

It is through the massaging and stretching of this network of energy lines that Thai Yoga Massage releases tension. By allowing energy to flow more freely, the massage can help to alleviate conditions such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches, digestive difficulties, menstrual problems, and stress-related problems.

Even though the massage is very active for the practitioner, it doesn't feel like work because it teaches you how to conserve energy and avoid exhaustion, and you have the joy of giving and receiving powerful energy.

Yoga originated in the subcontinent of India thousands of years ago and, during its long history has taken on many different forms. It was first found in the prehistoric Indus Valleys, in what is now known as Pakistan. Carvings of seated yoga positions were discovered; these positions are still practised to this day.

The word 'yoga' derives from the Sanskrit word for a yoking or joining together, or bringing about a realization of the oneness of body and mind. Particular attention is given to breathing, the work of gravity, and the releasing of unnecessary and unhelpful muscle contraction and tension. This allows for a lengthening of the spine and widening of the chest, and creates more room for internal organs to function more freely and effectively. A feeling of well-being is thus enhanced.

We can learn ways to:
  • Release tension;
  • Allow the spine to lengthen;
  • Awaken lazy muscles and calm busy ones;
  • Breathe and move more freely;
  • Increase flexibility and agility;
  • Offload stress emotionally, physically and mentally;
  • Increase lung capacity;
  • Aid circulation.
The first references, which were discovered in writing, were found in the Vedas and written in the ancient language of Sanskrit; they are the hymns of the Aryan people. India's philosophies and religious practices are rooted in the Vedas. As time developed, the Vedas then became known as the Upanishads - a text that is viewed as sacred and is still used and honoured today.

For many people, yoga is primarily a spiritual practice in itself or part of their spiritual practice. Others turn to yoga to remedy physical pain, mental instability or emotional disturbances. Yoga is valuable for people of all ages and in all walks of life. It's a way of learning about your self and your current limitations. It's also a path to extending those limitations through releasing unnecessary ways of keeping yourself tense.

Further Information

The Metta College of Traditional Thai Yoga Massage runs accredited training courses in this ancient healing art in London and Glasgow. For further information, contact The Metta College on Tel: 0141 339 3709;


  1. Roshni Dubey said..

    Hi i am really intrested in learning thai yoga massage. can u please help me where can i learn since i am located in india, mumbai.

  2. sharmila baptista said..

    I would like to learn thai yoga massage.please guide me.I reside in mumbai so please suggest me a training centre in mumbai.

« Prev Next »

Post Your Comments:

About Amy Ku Redler

Amy Ku Redler ITEC TTYMA Dip, Stress and Wellbeing expert, has trained and studied in Thailand, India and the UK,  and has practiced and taught Thai Yoga Massage since 1991. She teaches Yoga and Pilates professionally, trained in London by Mary Stewart, a widely respected Yoga teacher and author and in Pilates with Brigid McCarthy.

Amy is Director of Metta-College of Thai Yoga Massage, and runs introduction days and Diplomas in Glasgow London and in Thailand. She is a founding member of TTYMA (Traditional Thai Yoga massage Association) the first Thai Yoga Massage association in the UK. Amy also practises holistic massage (ITEC, London), Ayurvedic massage (learned in India), Onsite massage and teaches baby massage.

The Metta College of Thai Yoga Massage is accredited by Embody and affiliated to the ICM (Institute of Complementary medicine). Amy may be contacted on Tel: 0141 339 3709;

top of the page