Thai Yoga and/or Thai Massage is very similar to and compatible with Shiatsu. Shiatsu is a healing art , part of traditional Japanese medicine which was developed in the early twentieth century. Shiatsu, combines and interprets the theorietical basis from TCM (Traditional Chines Medicine), Ayurveda (Traditional Indian Medicine ) and the native practices of the indeginous Ainu and tribal people of Japan. Physically it borrows much from the Anma and Amma schools of Chinese acupressure and massage. Thai Massage reflects these very same influences with the exception of the tribal influences of the Ainu. Thailand also shows in its massage styles tribal influences, however in Thailand these are the Karen, Lao, Lahu, Mien, Hmong.
Similar characteristics are the use of therapeutic postures to increase circulation and balance of the orgins. Pressure to various points on the body to relieve pain and balance energy called Chi, Ki or Prana. Useing virtually the whole body of the therapists to work on the client. Its common to use knees, elbows, feet, even to standing on the client! In both systems, diagnosis of pathology and disease conditions uses traditional oriental methods of taking pulses, reading the stomach, palpation, as well as the senses of sight and smell. Both reflect causes of disease relating to harmful or pernicious influences whic can be internal or external. Both reflect a belief that the whole person, mind, body and spirit is a factor in disease and recovery. In fact they are so similar that you would virtually have to be an expert to actually discern key differences! Several Shiatsu Masters and Grand Masters of note have declared Thai Massage to be a "cousin" of Shiatsu. These include but are not by any means limited to Dr. Doann Kaneko, Toshiko Phipps, Liku Miyazaki, Shizuto Yamamoto, Akiama Sensei.
The primary differences represent cultural differences between Japan and Thailand. In Japanese treatments points on lines following the tradition and naming conventions of acupuncture are emphasized, where in Thai work, the lines themselves are emphasized over points. The lines in Shiatsu are called meridians or meridian extensons. In Thai they reflect a stronger Vedic leaning and are called Sen or Prana Nadi. Both systems may or may not empahsize large and significant energy centers called Chakra. In both systems the belly or"Hara" is the single most important body area for treatment and diagnosis of conditions. Both are primarily practiced on the ground on mats as this proximity to the earth is considered vital.