Traditional Burmese Massage (or Myanmar Massage) is a clothed therapeutic massage for health, and borrows heavily from Thai, Tibetan, Indian, and Chinese concepts and massage techniques.
It’s a full body massage typically done on the floor on a mat. The massage techniques most often used are acupressure, stretches, cross-fiber friction, and kneading.
Traditionally, herbal oils, creams or lotions are not used during a Burmese massage session, but it must be said that it depends a bit on the region in Myanmar and the style of massage given. Nevertheless, a typical aspect of Burmese Massage is the combination with a Thanakha treatment (Thanaka), which is given on the whole unclothed body or on unclothed body parts.
Thanaka is a paste, cream or lotion made by grinding bark, wood, and roots from a variety of trees (including the Thanaka tree) and mixing the blend with a bit of water. It’s much used in Myanmar, usually applied to the face and arms, but it can be used for the whole body also.
The Thanaka paste gives a cooling sensation, provides protection from sunburn, promotes a smooth skin, has general anti-fungal properties, and is effective against acne.
As for a Burmese Massage session, the therapist mostly uses his or her fingers, hands, forearms and elbows, and occasionally also the feet and knees to give the massage. Chiropractic adjustments (“cracks”) may be included also.
Mind that the massage techniques used and the style of massages given can differ significantly depending on the geographical region in Myanmar. For instance, in the Shan state a massage (locally called Shan Massage) is very much like a traditional Thai Massage (notably with characteristics of Northern Thai Lana Massage). In the Chin state however, you will find that more Indian Ayurvedic techniques are applied, including Yoga-like movements.
Important healing benefits of a Burmese Massage are deep relaxation, relief of stress, anxiety, and general muscle and tendon pains, improvement of blood circulation, digestion, and detoxification, improved flexibility and range of motion, and a better quality of sleep.