An authentic Thai Massage session is always a Full Body Massage, that is, the therapist will work on all parts of the receiver’s body, from head to toes. Traditionally, the massage is done without the use of oils, creams, gels or lotions.
Although called “full body,” a Thai Massage is not given directly on the exposed body, but over/through the clothes. That is, it’s a clothed massage where both the receiver and the practitioner are dressed. Moreover, the massage is usually given on the floor, on an appropriate massage mat or mattress.
A core principle of a full body Thai Massage is that work is done on the Sip Sen Energy Lines, the so-called Life Energy Channels. These channels run across the entire body, and it’s believed that they conduct Life Energy (called Lom Pran in Thailand) to all parts of the body, without which the body could not sustain itself. As such, the Energy Lines need to be kept open (prevention of illness) or opened if obstructed (healing).
During a session, the client will typically receive the massage placed in various positions, such as lying on the stomach, on the back, seated, and/or lying on the sides. Therapists use their hands, fingers, elbows, forearms, knees and feet to apply the massage, using a broad range of techniques, such as strokes, acupressure, stretches, kneading, pulling, rubbing, and whatnot.
Depending on the therapist’s lineage and style, a massage session may start with the feet, the head, with the back or abdomen. It also depends on the therapist and the goal of a session what types of client positions will be used — prone, supine, seated, or side-lying — and in which order.
As the entire body is worked on, a full body Thai Massage takes time. A session cannot possibly take less than an hour, and can take up to four hours, depending on how detailed the massage is done, the therapeutic needs of the receiver, and the variety of techniques applied.