Massage or Thai Massage? by Danila Ciencia

You practice yoga and you love it, you also love getting massages. Then you go to Thailand and find a practice that combines both: by the end of my first Thai Massage I was in love. I was amazed by the sensations of length & balance in my muscles, the feeling of openness in my body, the incredible sense of calm, grounding and alertness in my mind. As well as all the benefits I was clearly absorbing, I was blown away by the incredible skills with which my therapist moved me around, softening my entire being during those two magical hours. I worked hard to become that therapist and now I am also a teacher of this incredible form of healing.

How is Thai Massage different from other forms of massage?

Thai Massage is essentially a combination of Yoga, Reflexology & Acupressure, which makes it a unique healing art that affects not only the physical body, but also the whole human energy system.

It’s a part of the ancient Traditional Thai Medicine practice dating back 2500 years, which is made up of 5 primary roots: Medicinal Sciences, Physical Therapies, Spirit Medicine, Divinatory Sciences and Buddhism.

Thai Massage is based on the theory of the 72000 Sen or Energy Lines (comparable to the Ayurvedic Nadis and Chinese Meridians) that run through the body. These Sen are avenues carrying the various forms of energy, such as mental, emotional and physical. When these Sen lines become blocked, the energy (Lom, Chi or Prana) becomes stagnant and the body loses its balance, allowing disease and discomfort to set in. Thai Massage focuses on 10 main Sen.

It’s an elegant, simple and profound method of bodywork: performed on a futon mat on the floor, with the client fully clothed, pressure is applied to all the muscles of the body, and along the Sen.

The applied stretches bring the receiver in positions similar to yoga asanas, passively, which complete the Sen work by creating space along their course and within joints and fascia. Every technique melts into the next with total economy of motion; it looks like a beautifully choreographed performance.

The benefits of Thai Massage are countless:

  • Stimulates & tones the organs, glands and nerves
  • Targets the body’s energetic system and the muscles, while also improving weak circulation and tensed fascial tissue
  • Improves mind and body awareness
  • Provides relief from aches and pains
  • Stretches muscles
  • Increased flexibility and range of motion
  • Improved alignment and postural integrity
  • Reduces emotional and nervous tension
  • Decreases symptoms of anxiety and depression

Western forms of Bodywork

These are based on Western concepts of anatomy and physiology but lack the Energy work focus. Swedish Massage dates back to the 19th century and uses techniques such as effleurage (long strokes), Petrissage (kneading), Vibration.

Performed on a massage table with the use of oils, it works by softening the muscles, and assists circulation by application of pressure to the muscles in the direction of the blood flow to the heart, as well as inducing deep relaxation & calming the mind.

Deep Tissue, Sports Massage & many other forms of Soft Tissue Therapy evolved from Swedish Massage and a deep knowledge of the body systems to delve further into the deeper layers of muscles and tissues. As we discover more and more physical and physiological responses to touch and causes of physical discomfort, we are finding more techniques to assist the body and its healing process, and developing new forms of soft tissue therapy. It’s a fascinating world into the workings of our body and the sense of release that some of these practices provide our body with is an incredible sensation.

My compass, however, always points towards Thai Massage because it works on every single element of well-being. The deep energy rebalancing element, the connection between body & mind that one feels in a yoga class, the sense that every aspect of the self has been touched by this powerful work, the emotional experience brought during a session, the feeling of life flowing freely through the body which comes after every treatment, all make Thai Massage a very unique form of bodywork. On a more physical level, the space created in joints to allow freedom of movement & the feeling of being stretched and lengthened, are in my opinion elements that other forms of Massage lack.

There is no substitute for the mind/body healing process that unfolds during and after an effective Thai session. (Kira Balaskas_TYM teacher)

Thai Massage is a physical therapy, a dance of movement and flow, a medical treatment, an expression of compassion, and a medium for spiritual healing.(Robert Henderson)

Whether your own compass points towards Thai Yoga Massage or a Deep Tissue Massage, or perhaps you would like some help with making your choice, you can find Danila on Saturdays 10-2pm at The Life Centre, Islington.


Thai Yoga Massage with Danila has been life changing for me. I had issues with stiffness and tension in my shoulders, upper back and neck, due to my work; these issues were starting to affect my yoga practice and my daily life. Danila carefully examined and treated those areas with her skilful and intuitive treatments, and I felt refreshed and relaxed after the first session. After years of deep tissue, and very little improvements, I decided to try Thai Yoga Massage after having experienced some of its benefits while in Thailand. With regular sessions, Danila restored a healthy mobility in my shoulders and relieved me of the pain in my neck. I left every session feeling rested and balanced but at the same time energised and stretched. My posture and flexibility have improved considerably. Her effective stretches and caring approach worked on different levels, helping me to stay flexible and healing my pains. (Robi – Yoga Teacher & Art Restorer)

Massage Treatments with Danila