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Modalities Explained - Eastern Massage Styles

Do you have to ‘wing it’ when your clients start talking about their massage preferences?

Fear not – we’re here to help!

We’ve created a series of articles explaining spa and fitness treatments, to help you understand your charter clients’ wellbeing needs.

We’ll start by demystifying our number-one requested treatment – massage! In this article we explain Eastern massage modalities.

Wait a minute… what’s the difference between Western and Eastern massage styles?

Good question! Western techniques are based on the Western anatomical perspective, and treat malfunction in specific muscles or joints. Eastern techniques (which is a very broad term) are generally much older, view the body more holistically, using their own anatomical models based on energy systems.

Here are the main Eastern massage types:


A Japanese form of massage based on the belief that wellness is rooted in energy force lines or ‘Qi’. Shiatsu massage aims to remove blockages to the flow of Qi. This is an active form of massage – often performed on the floor, client clothed, with the therapist using their elbows knees and feet to apply pressure.

Interesting fact: Shiatsu means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese

Who is it good for? Those would want to experience an Eastern form of active massage; clients who want to remain clothed.

Thing to note: A Shiatsu floor mat would be required on board to offer this on yachts.

Thai Massage

This is another active form of massage incorporating stretches and body movement similar to yoga. Traditionally this is performed with the client fully clothed and on a mat on the floor.

Interesting fact: In Thailand, you may be asked if you want an oil massage, which is a result of Western tourists being more accustomed to Swedish massage. Traditional Thai massage doesn’t use oil, apart from in medicinal treatments.

Who is it good for? Those requiring deep stretches with their massage. People who can’t be bothered to do yoga!

Thing to note: It’s ideal to have a traditional floor mat on board for these treatments

Ayurvedic massage

Ayurveda is the traditional health system of the Indian subcontinent. Traditionally it would be administered as part of a wider treatment strategy prescribed by an Ayurvedic doctor. However in recent times, the techniques used in Ayurvedic treatments have been translated into a more spa like treatments. They may even include a brief consultation on what kind of ‘dosha’ or body type the client may be, however are not a replacement for a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor.

Interesting fact: Traditionally, the massage tables are made purely of wood.

Who is it good for? Clients interested in alternative health systems

Thing to note: Treatments often use a lot of oil, so on superyachts it’s preferable if there is a dedicated massage room.

Lomi Lomi

Traditional Hawaiian massage, incorporating a very oily massage with prayer, breathing, humming and dance. Lomi lomi tradition believes that memories are stored in the body as well as the mind – and that massage allows us to let go of patterns, behaviours and trauma stored in the body.

Interesting fact: Californian, or Esalen massage, uses some Lomi Lomi techniques.

Who is it good for? Anyone interested in holistic and spiritual experiences.

Thing to note: The client is ideally naked, with just a small towel covering them, so it’s not for the prudish!

If you get a request for massage on a charter, PLEASE lean in and ask us for help. We are the experts in this field, and we have a great team of angels to suit the most discerning of clients.



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