Northern Lanna Thai Massage differs somewhat from mainstream Thai Traditional Massage. The primary goal of Thai Lanna Massage is to relieve tensions and stiffness, which reflects the traditional need for relaxation after hard work in the mountainous area of Northern Thailand.
For this we see that much focus in massage sessions is set on working to relax and loosen up the muscles of the feet, legs and lower back. The Lanna Massage style is usually applied slower, softer and more gently than Southern style Thai Massage, yet incorporates more stretches than Southern Bangkok style. It’s also a less “polite” form of massage, working very close to and with the body of the receiver.
Additionally, Lanna Massage is applied to heal the internal organs like the stomach, the intestines, testicles, uterus, ovaries and prostate. In many cases herbs are applied, notably herbal compresses, with herbal applications being one of the specialties of the Lanna Folk Healing Arts. We find obvious influences hereof in the more modern Chi Nei Tsang, Karsai Nei Tsang, and Jap Sen Nerve Touch massage modalities, to name some examples.
Another significant characteristic that sets Thai Lanna healing apart from “common” Thai Traditional Medicine practices is that the Lanna therapists are usually more involved with ancient beliefs in animism and rituals. Incantations, chants, religious ceremonies and spiritual maturity of the healer are seen as essential aspects of healing work.
There are basically no fixed patterns or sequences of techniques used, which is more often seen in traditional Southern Thai style massages. In fact, Lanna Massage is much less protocol based, and a treatment is not necessarily a complete full body massage. Session durations can vary between fifteen minutes to two or more hours, very much depending on the specific health issues of the receiver.
Nowadays, the phrase Traditional Thai Lanna Massage is often used commercially in massage spas and parlors in the North of Thailand to emphasize the origin and originality of the style and to give it something “exotic and special.” For this it has become more difficult to differentiate between authentic and less authentic forms of Lanna healing applications.
Whatever the case today, Lanna Thai Massage and the Lanna Healing Arts have contributed significantly to the wealth and diversity of massage styles and other healing modalities in Thailand. Without the rich cultural input of the Lanna region, Thailand as a whole would have been way less exuberant.