Tough love: 5 ways Thai massage is spa-meets-gym genius


It’s a workout-slash-beauty treatment that’ll transform your body and soothe your mind – here’s why you should go Thai.

What is it?

Quite simply, the dream – a workout that someone else does for you. Also known as ‘yoga massage’, Thai massage is basically assisted yoga. You’ll lie on a yoga mat, clothed, and your masseuse will move you into various poses. Unlike other forms of massage, there are no oils or lotions and you should wear something loose and comfortable.

Where did it come from?

Thailand, naturally. But it was devised by an Indian, the renowned Ayurvedic doctor Jivaka Kumar Bhacca. Still known in Thailand as the country’s ‘father of medicine’, he even treated the Buddha. The form of massage he developed combined what he’d learned about healing from India, China and southeast Asia, from Ayurvedic principles to acupressure and yoga.

… and when?

There are two main schools of yoga massage – the more common kind from Thailand; and the ancient art it was based upon, still practiced in Nepal and northern India. In India, a yoga massage might start with meditation and recitation of a mantra. The two styles diverged when ancient texts and teachings were lost over three centuries of war in Thailand, and the Thai version went its own way.

How does it work?

Practitioners of Thai massage believe that the air (‘lom’) travels around the body on 72,000 pathways called ‘sen’. Your masseuse will follow and manipulate these pathways to leave your body feeling transformed. As well as pummeling the stress away like any massage, Thai massage also improves flexibility, range of motion and circulation. Win.

Can I swap it for the gym?

Damn straight. Swap a full body workout for a full body massage – just call for a mobile massage and let your masseuse do the work instead. A bit like the gym, if it’s hurting, it’s working. And even better, with an outcall massage you can recover at home.

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