The Differences between Northern and Southern Style Thai Yoga Massage

“The body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care”. As quoted by one of the greatest people of all time, Gautama the Buddha.

The Buddha has, in his own way, been a part of how Thai Yoga Massage was developed and evolved over the centuries.

But before we explore the different styles of Thai Massage, let’s look a little more deeply into its origin.

Thai Yoga Massage’s roots lie in India and the flower bloomed in Thailand. Jivaka Kumar Bhacca is the founding father, and is now known in Thailand as the Father of Medicine. An Ayurvedic doctor renowned for his knowledge of herbal medicine, his exceptional medical skWat Pho - Thai Massageills and for providing medical care to important people during his day, including the Buddha himself.

While Thai Yoga massage’s principles came from the Buddhist schools, its basic practices and techniques evolved in India, China, Thailand and South East Asia and have since spread throughout the West over the past 20 years or so.

Within Thailand two distinct forms evolved, giving us its two main styles, Southern and Northern Thai massage.

For us to be able to fully appreciate these two styles, we’ll first look at their similarities and then their differences.

First, Southern and Northern styles both recognise Jivaka Kumar Bhacca as its founding father, originated in India along with Buddhism, some 2500 years ago.

Second, both styles came from two elements. The ‘Royal Style’ and ‘Common Style’ of Ancient Thai massage.

The Royal style is called ‘Nuat Rajchasumnak’, meaning; providing the receiver with great respect and courtesy by the practitioner.

The other, which is the Common Style is called ‘Nuat Chaloeyseuk’, meaning; manipulate tense and tight muscles due to intense labour occupations.

Wat Pho - Thai Yoga Massage - Sen LinesAnd last, they both include combinations of stretches and muscle manipulation as well as giving pressure to the 72,000 Thai Sen lines and energy points of the body.

Now for the differences between the Northern and Southern styles of Thai Yoga Massage

The Southern style is known as “Folk Thai Massage”, it is taught in Wat Pho temple in Bangkok and its has been largely influenced by Chinese medicine. As a result it’s more focused on the powerful work on energy lines and pathways, opening energy channels and giving deep Chinese acupressure. A good invigorating choice for someone who wants to feel strong and be full of energy.

While the Northern style is known as “Royal Thai Massage”, mainly taught in Chiang Mai and has a greater Indian influence. Unlike the Southern style, it has more of a focus on slow, yogic stretching techniques and done in a gentle rhythm way found in Ayurveda and Yoga. Perfect for those who want to unwind and relax after a long day of hard work, or to release tension from tight muscles.

Depending on the receiver’s needs and personality, both styles have their own unique and special way of conditioning the body and providing relief for muscular tensions, stress and body pains due to overactivity.

Simon studied the Northern style of Thai Yoga Massage at Muditha Thai Yoga school, but the southern style shares some similarities with Japanese Shiatsu Massage.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog post please see our two other posts on Thai Yoga massage, specifically the benefits for Office Workers and for Sports People.

Please comment below and share you’re experience a if Thai Yoga Massage. Perhaps you’ve visited Wat Pho temple or received Thai Yoga massage yourself.

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Jo Maughan Thai Yoga Massage Testimonial for Simon Henderson The Shiatsu Guy

I left with a sense of overall well-being which lasted a few days

Simon’s massage relieved my tight left shoulder and neck which was wonderful. More than that though, the massage was very reviving and relaxing overall and I left with a sense of overall well-being which lasted a few days. What I liked most about the Thai Yoga Massage was that Simon actively manipulated my joints and I was more active in the massage. Thank you, Simon – you seem to be able to exert just the right amount of pressure.

Jo Maughan - Career, Confidence and Happiness Coach @ Your Thinking PartnerLondon, UK

Yoga in South East London – Sydenham and Forest Hill

Vinyasa Flow Yoga in Honor Oak Park
New Vinyasa Flow Yoga Class in Honor Oak Park with Francesca

Yoga in South East London – Sydenham and Forest Hill

If you’re interested in looking after your physical and mental wellbeing, there isn’t much that comes close to a good Yoga session! (other than a Shiatsu of course)

There are a growing number of excellent yoga teachers holding a variety of yoga classes in South East London.  Below is a list of local yoga classes in SE23 and SE26

New Vinyasa Flow Yoga Class in Honor Oak Park

Possibly the first Vinyasa Flow class in the SE London area is with Francesca at the Honor Oak Pub on Monday evenings from 6.45 until 8pm.

The first class is free and you can get a discount for block booking your classes.

Vinyasa Flow Yoga seems to have come from nowhere to be an increasingly popular style, known for it’s flowing form (as the name implies). So if you haven’t tried it out yet then now is your chance, before the classes get too full!

email: to ask any questions or to book in your first yoga class.

Four Highly Recommended Teachers:

Kate McKenzie – Yoga

kate mckenzie yoga teacher,singer & performer. healing,creativity and discovering true potential through sound and yoga classes are informed by an eclectic 


Group yoga classes in Sydenham, London SE26. … “I think you’re one of the best yoga teachers I’ve come across and your precision and attention to detail is …


Yoga SE23 SE26
Yoga Classes in Forest Hill and Sydenham, South East London

Bright Yoga – Home
A relatively new yoga teacher to the area, offering a range of classes and styles in convenient locations. Styles include: Hatha, Vinyasa Flow and Dynamic power yoga, all with a focus on technique, moving from one pose to the other… generally keeping things dynamic and flowing

Yoga in South East London – SE23 Forest Hill, Honor Oak, Sydenham.  YogaClasses in Forest Hill, Honor Oak & East Dulwich 


07868 740 419



Anna Ranprem, Anna Browne, Kundalini Yoga, South East London My name is Anna Ranprem and I teach Kundalini Yoga in Forest Hill, London. Kundalini …

Other Yoga teachers and classes in South East London


Yoga in Forest Hill. THURSDAYS. 7.00 – 8.30 pm – Mixed Ability. Friends Meeting House. 34 Sunderland Road Forest Hill London SE23 2QA see a map of the …


Iyengar yoga classes in South London, improve flexibility, stamina and sense of well being.

St Georges church, Vancouver Road, forest hill, London SE23 2AP

07809 758244


Oaktree Yoga is based in Honor Oak Park and Forest Hill (close to Catford and Sydenham), South London SE23 (close to SE6 and SE26) offering ashtanga …


Rachel is an Astanga Vinyasa, Vinyasa Flow, Hatha yoga teacher and Sport and Remedial Massage Therapist, based in South-East London with classes in …

Forest Hill Methodist Church

Normanton Street, London SE23 2DS

07887 601111


Private practise (One to One Yoga) at home: Border Road, Sydenham SE26 Do call or email to book or for more information.


Feb 22, 2013 – The Sydenham & Forest Hill Community Yoga Association are now …Cathy Tincknell also has classes in Penge on a Saturday morning.


Yoga classes are available at LA fitness Sydenham. Discover the updated studio timetable here and try us today!


Purna Yoga London offers asana classes, workshops, retreats teacher trainings, privates, nutrition guidance, meditation, philosophy and a whole lot of joy!


Weekly Hatha Yoga class in Forest Hill, every Monday 19:30-20:45, at f h space. …Junction, as well as the new East London Overground line go to Forest Hill.

9 Havelock Walk

London SE23 3HG

07977 968887

Yoga is great for helping manage a range of physical conditions, improving strength and flexibility, releasing tight muscles, calming the mind, improving sleep and generally boosting your health and energy levels.

If you’re new to yoga it’s a good idea to try out a few classes or different styles of yoga to find out which suits you best and to find a teacher whose teaching style fits with your preferred learning style.  Hopefully the list above will give you a bit of a start in finding a great yoga class in South East London.

Yoga Sydenham and Forest Hill
It’s a great idea to support your Yoga Practice with Shiatsu treatments

Shiatsu for Yogis and Yoginis

If you’d like to support your yoga practice then Shiatsu can be a great way to do that. Shiatsu massage can help your body adapt to the new exercises, increase flexibility, deal with past injuries more quickly (sometimes our bodies need to manifest old injuries before we can move through and resolve them) calm your mind and get rid of stress.

You might like to try a Shiatsu massage when you first start yoga or when you come back to yoga after a break, to help your body adapt to the new movements.  Shiatsu is great for helping with musculo-skeletal issues, such as fallen arches, misalignment, scoliosis, twists in the spine, muscle imbalances and referred pain due to injuries or weaknesses.

Or if you’re pushing your yoga to the next level Shiatsu can help to improve your flexibility by safely stretching beyond where you can take yourself (we all have different kinds of resistance even if we should be physically able to get there) by releasing tension in the muscles as well as adhesions in the connective tissue.

Yoga is like a physical ‘Psycho-Analysis’ and Shiatsu can help with the reflection and resolution.

You might just want a one-off Shiatsu, occasional maintenance treatments or regular sessions depending on your budget, time constraints and what you’re facing in your work, life-style and physical/emotional/energetic health.

Whatever your needs Shiatsu can provide the support and nurturing you require!

If you’d like to have a shiatsu with me (Simon, The Shiatsu Guy) you can contact me on 07951 621 308 or

I have clinics in 4 London locations and I can do home visits in Forest Hill and Sydenham (Crystal Palace and Honor Oak too… and South East London in general usually works. but I might have to charge a wee bit for travel)

So give me a call today for a free consultation!