To reteach a thing its loveliness is the nature of metta. Through lovingkindness everyone & everything can flower again from within.Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

how is Thai massage different?

Over 2500 years ago Thai massage was born from the influences of Buddhism and Ayurveda. Monks were the first to use this as a physical expression of meditation and compassion (metta) to heal body, mind and spirit. In Thailand it’s considered a medical discipline and along with proper nutrition and exercise, is an essential part of maintaining well-being, preventing illness and improving quality of life.
It works the physical body through joint mobilization, rhythmic rocking, fluid movement, gentle stretching and massage techniques. It works the energetic body through acupressure points, Sen lines, and metta meditation. The practitioner uses their hands, elbows, knees, and feet depending on the technique used. Traditional style is practiced as a full body treatment (at least 90 minutes), without the use of oils, on a padded floor mat but it can also be performed on the table or a massage chair.


1. People think they have to be flexible to benefit. This is not true.
People think this way because of several reasons. Anyone whose had a massage in Thailand might have experienced a more aggressive style where their body may have been submissively pushed into a pose it can’t quite do. North American bodies are different than Thai bodies. Different parts of Thailand, have different styles of techniques too. Yes, it’s true that one aspect of Thai massage is stretching and being passively moved into different positions, but there is sooo much more than stretching to this work.

Sandi’s view on Stretching
Treatment is customized to how your body is presenting at that moment in time. Some movements you may have seen online can look intimidating but if they are contraindicated, or not appropriate for your body, they are omitted. In fact, it’s often the more subtle movements that reveal where holding and restriction are happening. Contrary to popular belief, flexibility and mobility are not improved by putting your muscles under strain. That will only cause the “Stretch Reflex”, (a protective preprogrammed response your body has to prevent a muscle from tearing. When we attempt to stretch a muscle that’s in an involuntary contracted state, the reflex is activated in the brain, and it actually causes the muscle to tighten even more). Even though it “feels good” to stretch, and you may be the type of person that likes to go as far as you can, it’s actually not helping you if you’re consistently pushing into stretch reflex.

2. Thai Yoga Massage vs Thai Massage. What’s the difference?
Thai Yoga massage focuses more on the stretching style of technique, including variations of asana poses that you may have tried in a yoga class. Often called “lazy man yoga”. Acupressure, joint mobility, energyline focus, compression, tapotement…these are also techniques used in Thai massage that are not to be dismissed.

Sandi’s non-traditional style
With the influence of expert teachers around the world, and 12 years of practice and study, Sandi has naturally shifted into a more integrated style that combines elements of Thai massage with other forms of bodywork (i.e Clinical Thai Bodywork, Somatics, Trigger Point Therapy, etc). It is not necessarily a completely passive experience like “lazy yoga” because for true change to occur, one’s brain and attention must be involved in the process. Sandi will coach you when necessary while still maintaining a massage like experience. Strangely enough, when one does keep a razor focus on their body’s sensations, it’s amazingly the degree of relaxation that is created in the nervous system and how fast one can notice change. Everyone still leaves feeling better than when they arrived and it’s a more effective result for those who have chronic pain patterns. These techniques that are integrated along gentle stretching will actually improve your mobility, and ease your nervous system. If you’re looking for a super aggressive stretching treatment, you won’t find it at mettafor.

other frequently asked questions

The main principal of Thai medicine is that energy flows through the body along ten major channels or “sen” lines. If these channels get blocked, it’s believed that pain and disease results. In this sense, it’s similar to other ancient healing modalities that believe illness is caused by an imbalance within the person or by an imbalance between the person and his/her environment. Thai Massage aims to restore optimal flow of energy throughout the body using specific techniques which activate the body’s self healing mechanism.

Benefits include:

  • management of back pain, headaches, sciatica, arthritis, digestive difficulties, menstrual cramps, muscle spasms, and menopause
  • calms the nervous system, reduces stress/anxiety and promotes deep relaxation
  • relieves tension, soreness, and stiffness throughout the body
  • increases flexibility and joint mobility
  • improves circulation of blood and lymph, cleansing and eliminating toxins
  • working Sen lines (energy lines) unblocks, stimulates & re-aligns energies in the body
Our padded mat on the floor is quite nice and at mettafor we use lots of additional supports and props to make your body as comfortable as possible. Most people enjoy the floor because it feels stable, supportive, spacious and allows maximum mobility. It also allows the practitioner to utilize their body weight more effectively. But often Thai treatment is done on the table so depending on your needs, treatment can be easily adapted.
Your experience should be mostly a therapeutic one. There may be some discomfort in areas of the body that have energy blocks, contracted/restricted tissue or mobility limitations, however, it should be a “hurt so good” type of feeling and never pain (sharp, electrical sensation etc). Often people request going to maximum stretch, but that can be counter-productive so a stretch should never hurt you in session. You will receive benefit with any depth of pressure so the “no pain no gain” mentality does not apply.

You may have mild soreness afterwards if your body is learning something new and discharging toxins but once it subsides you will feel the benefit.

Quebec is currently the only province that recognizes Thai massage in the same way that Ontario recognizes Swedish massage. Quebec practitioners register with “Regroupement des Massothérapeutes du Québec”(RMQ), thereby allowing residents to use their insurance benefits.
In Ontario, its not regulated in the same way and practitioners are not yet able to register with the governing body that registered massage therapists (RMTs) do. RMTs, Chiropractors and other health professionals had to lobby in order to obtain their status with insurance companies. Although this process has been started, it’s our hope and belief that as natural, holistic approaches to wellness become more mainstream, insurance companies will begin to acknowledge the therapeutic and healing benefits that Thai massage has been offering for thousands of years. Some insurance companies in Ontario do cover “Holistic Health Practitioners” or offer a “Health Spending Account” so be sure to find out what your particular plan covers. If your insurance company doesn’t cover Thai massage, please ask why, and suggest that it should be. This will create more awareness and help the process.
Please wear or bring items that stretch and allow for easy movement. Long athletic/yoga pants with a t-shirt (short or long sleeved) are ideal. Avoid hooded shirts as they interfere with treatment. For Thai Foot Massage/Reflexology, comfortable shorts or cropped pants that sit above the knee are best. There is always a clean pair of Thai pants on site should you not have proper attire.
Try to avoid heavy meals (at least 1 hr prior) and caffeine. Drink plenty of water so you aren’t dehydrated when you arrive.

specialty treatments

Thai reflexology

Rejuvenating for the whole body

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    a.k.a Thai foot massage; a blending of Chinese Reflexology and Thai techniques that works areas from feet to knees.

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    Relieves sore, tired feet especially great for those who have physically demanding jobs of standing for long periods of time.

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    Hot towels, oils/creams and essential oils may be used to enhance treatment. 

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    Thumbs or wood sticks are used on pressure points where over 7000 nerve endings connect at the bottom of the feet. 

Thai style head

Uplifts and lightens upper body tension

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    Invigorating scalp massage and acupressure points boost circulation.

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    Eases discomfort in the face, neck, scalp, shoulders and upper back.

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    Gentle and slow techniques break down tension and release toxins.

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    Brings the energy of the whole body into a deep sense of peace and calm. 

prenatal Thai

ease symptoms safe & effectively

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    Relief from discomfort in upper/lower back, shoulders/neck, swelling in feet, ankles, hands, sciatica, and leg cramps. Improves sleep & decreases stress hormones

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    Modified by reducing depth of stretch & traction due to effects of relaxin and loosening of ligaments, avoiding pressure point areas known to induce labour and using safe positions.

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    The ebb & flow facilitates birthing preparation of letting go, breathing, working with rhythms and cultivating trust.

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    Use of props and supports ensures comfort and allows mom & baby time to bond and connect. Recommended in 2nd and 3rd trimester.