When thinking of rest and relaxation activities, getting a massage typically comes into mind. Massage therapy may be applied for simple R&R, for pain relief, or as an art of healing to treat medical conditions. Apart from the different spas and massage parlors offering such services, there are also different styles to choose from, each applying a different set of motions and principles.

Swedish massage

The Swedish massage is the most popular massage in the list. This massage begins with the application of oil to lubricate the body. The different motions behind the Swedish massage involve kneading, sliding and gliding, tapping, or shaking the muscles to help the patient relax. Its aim is to enhance oxygen circulation and blood flow to the muscles. Through improved circulation, it aids the removal of toxins in the body to improve the patient’s health.

The Swedish massage is a good introductory massage for first-timers, especially those who would like to experience an oiled massage.

Shiatsu massage

Shiatsu (指圧) stands for “finger pressure” in Japanese. It is based on traditional Chinese medicine techniques, with a mix of Japanese concepts and innovations. It involves pressing fingers and hands on pressure points of the body to remove blockages and stimulate the flow of ki. It also aims to keep the balance of the yin and yang, and improve the harmony between the internal organs.

While the Swedish massage is an oily rubbing experience, the Shiatsu massage is recommended for those who’d rather stay dry and be pressed on certain points of the body.

Thai massage

The Thai Yoga massage is well-known for its intensity and the pressure exerted by the therapist on the patient’s body. What sets this massage from the rest is that the therapist typically uses the full body and gravity in stretching, twisting, and pushing the patient’s body into various yoga positions. Due to the motions used in the Thai Yoga massage, the occasional cracking of joints may occur. The massage may not be appropriate for patients with orthopedic problems or those who have a fragile body build.

The Thai Yoga massage is recommended for those who are fine with its intensity, and would like to do a passive and relaxing yoga routine.


Hilot is commonly known as a massage hailing from the Philippines. For practitioners or albularyo, it is a healing art. Hilot is not a particularly relaxing type of massage as it aims more on identifying the imbalances on the body. It focuses on restoring the balance of the four elements in the body: earth, referring to the bone and flesh; water, or the blood; fire, as in the body’s electrical impulses; and air.

It is interesting to note that in the past, albularyos explained to people, for easier understanding, that the afflictions are caused by encanto or elementals. The diwata are air elementals that can cause imbalance to the air. Tiyanak and impernales (imps) are fire elementals; sirena and siokoy are water elementals; duwende (dwarves) and kapre (giants) are earth elementals.

The albularyo may employ a combination of massage, herbal medicine and supplements, and also prayer. Once balance is restored to the elements, the body should then be able to restore and heal itself, relieving the patient of sickness.

Hilot is suggested for those who would like to experience a classic Filipino massage, and those who are open-minded to spiritual healing and perhaps some degree of mysticism.