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April 26, 2018

What is Traditional Thai Massage?

Thai massage, also called Nuad Boran, is an ancient, energy-based healing system that integrates aspects of acupressure with assisted yoga postures. Traditionally, Thai massage uses no oils or lotions and is performed on a mat on the floor with both the client and practitioner wearing loose-fitting clothes. Thai massage sessions are comprised of a series of compression strokes, stretches, rocking, and pulling techniques intended to clear energetic blockages and relieve tension in the body. This is different from many western massage techniques where strokes rely on oil or lotion to glide along the surface of the skin. Thai massage practitioners utilize their whole bodies in a session, maintaining constant contact throughout while applying rhythmic pressure with thumbs, palms, forearms, elbows, knees, and feet. Practitioners rely heavily on gravity and leverage to execute deep assisted stretches and postures derivative of the yoga traditions in nearby India. Combined, these techniques release muscular tension, alleviate pain, and open the joints of the body to improve balance and range of motion. Receiving Thai massage creates a deep sense of relaxation and restoration.


Thai massage has its roots in Buddhism and began its evolution about 2,500 years ago. Even today, many prominent Thai schools are located in “Wats” or temples such as Wat Pho in Bangkok. Trough this connection, traditional Thai massage draws on many influences in the Buddhist world from Ayurveda to Traditional Chinese Medicine. It focuses on activating and circulating vital energy in the body through pathways known as “Sen” lines, which are similar to meridians in acupuncture. These pathways are targeted, manipulated, and stimulated to break up blockages and restore the flow of energy to a harmonious and natural balance.


Thai massage is typically recognized by its striking and often beautiful assisted yoga postures. Through these partner poses, the body is stretched beyond what is normally attainable through an individual yoga practice alone.

For many practitioners, performing Thai massage is akin to a spiritual experience as it incorporates meditative mindfulness and the concept of “mettā” or focused compassion. This results in a full-body Thai massage session creating a powerful and positive healing experience for recipients and practitioners alike.

Thai massage began gaining popularity in the west during the 1990’s and is now a fairly common in spas throughout North America. Recently, in San Francisco, several of the top-rated spas in the city offered a focus on traditional Thai massage, putting the technique on par with more familiar massage modalities such as Swedish massage and deep tissue.


If you’re curious and want to try a Thai massage in San Francisco, check out one of the great locations run by graduates of the San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork; Iyara on Geary Boulevard or the beautiful Suchada on King Street downtown. If you’d like to learn some Thai massage for yourself, check out our workshops: For the layperson there is our “Thai Massage for Couples” class and for the professional massage therapist there is our “Traditional Thai Massage: Level 1”.

Got questions or comments? Leave them below!

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5 years ago

This sounds amazing

4 years ago

Thai massage is such a beautiful art. Practicing myself for more then 20 years and I love creativity of the practice

4 years ago

I love THAI massage! it relaxes YOUR mind and body! The best! 💗

4 years ago

Thank you for your post, I look for such article along time, today I find it finally. this post gives me lots of advise it is beneficial for me.

4 years ago

wow amazing post. I love THAI massage!

4 years ago

I love thai massage, it is a beautiful method of massage

Thai Lanna Spa
4 years ago

Read the post, it’s really amazing to have a blog like this on Thai Oil Massage, while helpful for Thai Oil Massage service companies. Thanks for the post.

3 years ago

Thanks for sharing all of your experiences!

1 year ago

Great piece of content liked reading it. thank you for making me aware of such a useful topic. gotta definitely share it with others.

San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork

School Campus
475 Valencia Street – 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Student Clinic
– Located at the 16th Street Campus
2973 16th St., Ste 100 – Ground Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
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