First things first: There’s no massage table. Thai massages are done on a padded mat or thin mattress laid out on the floor. In a temple setting, this may be in a large open salon while in spas you’ll have either a private room or a curtained-off space. You don’t need to lose your knickers, as your therapist presents you with a neatly folded set of one-size-fits-all pajamas. You want your clothes to be loose.
There are no oils or lotions. The therapist uses their entire body to stretch and compress muscles and joints and to apply acupressure to specific points along the body’s yogic energy lines. Don’t be surprised if a masseuse places a foot in your armpit as they pull on your arm to stretch a shoulder muscle, or if they place their knees in your back (always gently) to pull you into a yoga pose to stretch your abs. You can expect a lot of physical contact, and sometimes the stretching may amusingly resemble wrestling.
Thumbs, knuckles, feet, and elbows push at pressure points to encourage energy flows. Admittedly, some may find this uncomfortable. However, I’ve had these treatments many times over the years, and in every case, the therapist has consistently asked if I’m OK and if I prefer softer pressure. Often, the therapist is so in tune with my breathing or tension that she or he can sense my limits.