What is the difference between Thai massage and Thai Yoga massage?

by | Oct 24, 2019

So what is the difference between Thai massage and Thai Yoga massage? Not much in all honesty. They are different names for the same thing.

BUT, there are some huge dissimilarities between these two and ‘Therapeutic Thai Massage/bodywork’ (which is what I teach).

Let me explain: We’re going to go back to look at where the word ‘yoga’ comes in, so bear with me for a moment:


Thai Massage was originally a selfcare practice called Reusi Datton. A Reusi is an asthetic and Datton translates as ‘stretch oneself’.

Reusi Datton (RDT) involves breathwork, self-massage and self-stretching. At some point in history (many moons ago) it morphed into another practice that could involve two people – and Thai Massage was born.

Western modification

The word ‘yoga’ has been a recent, western addition added to the name Thai Massage and is really only relevant due to the stretching aspect of it. As we already know ‘yoga’ is a one-person practice and Thai (Yoga) Massage involves two people. So, they have similarities (stretching) but are actually very different.

One of the big differences is that when doing yoga, the person is using muscle control and during Thai massage the motor control is mainly switched off or not engaged, i.e. the receiver is relaxed and not moving their own body.

Whether you are having Thai Massage or Thai Yoga Massage it is likely you will be stretched a little, unless you are having therapeutic Thai massage where you may or may not be stretched at all.

So this is where you are more likely to see a big difference:

Therapeutic Thai Massage/bodywork

This is the modality which honours tradition, is part of the Thai Medical system and where we can see the most diversity. A Thai Massage given through this lens might include stretching, pressing and thumbing, but it is much more complex as each session will vary.

For example: The consultation is used along with pulse diagnosis to establish what is needed before the treatment starts.

It is traditional to use scarves to massage with. In treatment you might experience abdominal massage, scraping, cupping, the use of hot herbal compresses, medicinal oils, stabilising stretches, traction and much more.

So you can see from this that there is a much wider variety of techniques with the focus being therapeutic rather than just relaxation.

Find out more about the Therapeutic Thai Massage/bodywork training we provide here.