One of the things I’m often asked to explain is the difference between a Swedish massage and a Thai yoga massage.
Let me give you a quick comparison of these two types of massages.
While both of them provide similar health benefits such as a lower heart rate and a reduction in anxiety levels, they also have some fundamental philosophies and techniques that differentiate them.
Swedish massage was developed in the West while Thai yoga massage originates from the East and dates back thousands of years. During more “classical” massages, the client lies down on a massage table, undressed and massage oils are used. Typically, Thai yoga massage is conducted on a mat on the floor, while the client wears comfortable loose clothing and no massage oils are used.
These two modalities also have different techniques. The principles of Thai massage are derived from beliefs about a system of energy lines in the body. By contrast, classical massages are based on Western anatomy and employ techniques such as gliding, stroking, rubbing, kneading, pounding and vibration. Thai yoga, on the other hand, incorporates thumbing, palming, gentle yoga-like stretches, acupressure and breath work to create a flow of movements.
Despite the fact that a Thai yoga massage is more dynamic, it’s important to point out that the client remains passive while the practitioner uses his own body to relieve, stretch and loosen the client’s muscles. Another benefit of this Eastern massage is the improvement in joint mobility and in the range of motion it provides. While people are sometimes concerned about the flexibility aspect of this type of massage, I would like to emphasize the fact being flexible is not a requirement, seeing as the practitioner will tailor the stretches to his client’s needs.
With its meditative approach, the purpose of Thai massage is to act on a more global level by restoring – the energy balance on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.
In the end, both approaches will provide great benefits, so now that you know the differences between the two it is up to you to decide what you are in the mood for : )