Let’s first start with mentioning that “Thai Yoga Massage” doesn’t really exist. Well… it does and it doesn’t. Actually, Thai Yoga Massage=Thai Massage. There’s no real difference, except maybe for emphasis, focus, intention, and a certain “way and style” of doing Thai Massage.
Mind that, in Thailand, the Thai basically just talk about “Thai Massage,” but in the 1980s of the former century, the idea of “Thai Yoga Massage” was coined by Asokananda (Harald Brust), the founder of the renowned Sunshine Network.
Asokananda was a Yoga and Vipassana meditation practitioner (who learned Thai massage in the Chiang Mai region of Northern Thailand) and he observed that many of the stretches applied in Thai Traditional Massage resembled certain Indian Yoga Asanas (Asanas are Yoga postures and positions).
Now, it is true that generally in Northern Thailand, yoga-like stretches are more often applied in Thai Massages sessions than in Thailand’s southern regions where there seems to be more focus on Sen Energy line acupressure and related therapies.
Because of the later popularity of Asokananda’s books, Thai Massage courses, and Sunshine Network teachers, the phrase “Traditional Thai Yoga Massage” became commonly used in Western countries, alongside simply “Thai Massage.”
But also—in the ’80s and ‘90s—Thai Massage was still very much associated with the sex-industry: we all know the connotation with the infamous “happy ending.” So, by using “Thai Yoga Massage,” practitioners, schools and teachers could distance themselves from the suggestion of sex or eroticism.
Anyway, when we analyze the Thai Massage training scene in Thailand today, we see that only a small number of schools actually use the term “Thai Yoga Massage.” Let’s take a look at some Thai Massage schools that associate themselves with Thai Yoga Massage.
Sunshine Massage School
The Sunshine Massage School in Chiang Mai, inspired by and based on Asokananda’s teachings, was founded by Max Scheuermeier and obviously offers “Thai Traditional Yoga Massage” training courses.
Sunshine Network Lahu Village
Like the Sunshine Massage School, the headquarters of Asokananda’s Sunshine Network in the Huey Nam Rin Lahu Village in the Chiang Rai province, naturally offers Thai Yoga Massage or Traditional Thai Yoga Massage classes and retreats.
Thai Yoga Massage School Bangkok Metta
The Thai Massage training center from Master Kong carries “Thai Yoga Massage” in its school and website name. The training courses offered are called “Thai Yoga Massage Basic training,” “Thai Yoga Massage Professional training”, and so on. To make things a bit more complicated, Kong’s school also offers “Thai Yoga training,” which in this case then is actually Reusi Dat Ton training, the Thai Hermit Ascetic Self-stretching exercises and Yoga.
Other trainers in Thailand
On the whole, you will not see the phrase “Thai Yoga Massage” used in Thailand. Apart from the training centers mentioned above, it is sometimes mentioned briefly on a school’s or trainer’s website, but this is mostly to generate leads to the school either via Internet Search Engines like Google, or to lure prospective students already on their website.
What you do encounter now and again, are events or retreats organized by foreign Thai Massage teachers offering occasional “Thai Yoga Massage trainings” in Thailand. In most cases, these trainings are offered by Sunshine Network Thai Yoga Massage authorized teachers from abroad (usually from Europe).