Traditionally, the term ‘massage’ to the public indicates a relaxation massage. With increasing popularity, massage therapy is now viewed as a healing practice. Spa visitors are often receiving massage on a regular basis at home for health benefits. Today’s spa clients look for massage treatments that are beyond the norm as they explore new modalities of healing in their retreat and spa vacations.

Therapies such as hot stone and deep tissue massage are now popular. Less common modalities are being requested and therefore added to many spa menus.
Here are just a few nontraditional massage therapies to consider adding to your repertoire:

Ayurvedic massage, based on the underlying principles of ayurvedic medicine, focuses on manipulation of marma points, or energy points, on the body and corresponding techniques appropriate for the individual’s body type, or dosha. Abhyanga is the traditional daily massage. Other bodywork offerings include dry brushing or garshana and rituals such as Shirodhara, a treatment that entails warm oil being poured over the third eye in a constant stream.

Shiatsu massage works with acupressure points along the energetic meridians to balance chi. Shiatsu literally translates to ‘finger pressure.’

Thai massage is a combination of yoga and massage that is done while clothed. It involves working on pressure points and energy lines through stretching and movement exercises. Thai massage is wonderful to market to athletes to increase range of movement.

Watsu is a stretching massage done in a warm water pool. Watsu practitioners cradle their clients while gently stretching muscles. Truly, this massage invites spa clients to experience a nearly weightless massage.

Lomi lomi massage is rooted in the Huna tradition of Hawaii with the universal need for love as its premise. It involves a deep connection between the massage practitioner and the client as most of the work involves intuitive responsiveness of the therapist to return the client to balance.

Craniosacral massage involves the manipulation of the fluid and membrane system of the body that supports the brain and spinal column. Craniosacral work typically involves massage of the skull, spinal cord, and sacrum. It is indicated for chronic pain, headache, and tension, but there are contraindications of which therapists need to be aware.

Lymphatic massage may be gaining popularity as spa clients look for treatments to detoxify from daily exposure to toxins. Lymphatic massage works by stimulating the lymph glands to improve lymph circulation. An additional benefit is the potential for improved immune functioning.

For practicing massage therapists adding unique massage treatments is a great way to draw in new clients and become more marketable within the spa industry. Another benefit to being skilled in these nontraditional methods, even if you are not working in a spa environment, is that spa clients will seek out these therapies when returning to their home regions, so the ability to draw in a greater clientele is increased.

Specialized training in these modalities can be found in a variety of settings and lengths. As with all bodywork, the more intensely a modality is practiced and applied, the greater the skill development will become. These different modalities also have grounding in other healing and treatment systems in which practitioners may choose to develop their practices further.

Many of these massage modalities are offered at the Center for Massage & Natural Health’s Holistic Retreat Center, and the practitioners are graduates of their Massage Therapy Certification Program. As massage therapy clients from all walks of life become more familiar with the wide range of services offered, they will be requesting a more eclectic treatment session, and massage therapists should be educated in many of these modalities if they hope to keep their clientele coming back.

If you are interested learning some of these popular massage therapy modalities, please, contact the Center for Massage & Natural Health, 530 Upper Flat Creek Rd. Asheville (Weaverville), NC 28787, call (828)
658-0814 email or visit the website at

Peggy Huff is the owner and Executive Director of the Center for Massage & Natural Health in Asheville, North Carolina. This COMTA accredited school is celebrating its 10th year of educational excellence and innovation in continuing education experiences.






Jennifer Flynn is the General Manager of the Center for Massage & Natural Health’s Holistic Retreat Center. She has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and women’s studies from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., a Master’s level in Ecopsychology from Antioch University, and attended an Herbal Medicine Program at Blue Heron Academy in Grand Rapids, Mich.