What is Massoga? Everything You Need to Know

28th October 2021

I was innocently scrolling through my Instagram feed the other day when something called Massoga caught my eye… So, admittedly the algorithm knows me well, I’m targeted constantly by ads and accounts for general yoga things from fancy asana to cute leggings, but this was different. This account showed someone lounging over a bolster and propped up by yoga blocks as they had their back and neck tenderly massaged by the teacher (also kitted out in a cute yoga outfit and in a well-lit studio, to be fair). Looked pretty dreamy to me, so what is this glory called Massoga, you ask?

Well, as I went on to discover, a whole style of yoga that consists of lounging and being massaged in the process, AKA heaven.

what is massoga


Massoga 101

So, as the portmanteau name implies, Massoga is a combination of massage and yoga. It’s a trademarked style developed by Australian yoga teacher Wallis Murphy. A Massoga class consists of yin yoga poses (floor-based asana held for a longer period of time with an emphasis on soft tissue release and relaxation), and whilst you are in the poses, the teacher comes round and offers massage to the area of the body that the pose is targeting.

In Massoga, the student-teacher ratio is around 4:1 in a studio class, so it’s not about a full body deep tissue massage, but instead helps you release deeper into poses and gives you all the benefits of yoga combined with massage. For example, if you are in a hip opener, such as pigeon pose, the teacher will focus on releasing your outer hip, thigh, and lower back to help you find more space. Or if you are in a forward fold, like Paschimottanasana, they will focus on releasing the tissues along the back and throw in a shoulder massage too.


Massoga Benefits

So are there any extra benefits to Massoga than to regular yoga? Well, maybe. Firstly, you have to enjoy massage and physical touch — and not everybody does. I definitely know a few people whose idea of hell would be being squeezed by a stranger as they try and chill out in their yin class.

But if you do enjoy a massage, chances are it’s not just because your muscles need it. Massage has been shown to increase our oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is our love hormone — you know that gooey-warm-excited feeling when you are in the early stages of falling in love? That’s down to good old oxytocin. It also makes us feel more relaxed and can help with mental health by alleviating depression.

Not only this, but the same study that showed the increase in oxytocin levels in the participants who had received massage, also found massage decreased levels of adrenocorticotropin hormone, which stimulates our stress hormone cortisol, and potentially could decrease our pain response associated with beta-endorphin production.

So all the benefits of massage combined with all the benefits of yoga, such as greater relaxation and wellbeing, with some aromatherapy good vibes sprinkled on top.

If you are looking for some extra R-and-R and don’t have the time or funds to take yourself off on a yoga retreat (In particular, an Ayurveda retreat which is heavy on the yoga and massage, although unfortunately not combined), then a Massoga or yoga-massage class might be just what you need to tide you over.


Massoga vs Yoga with Massage?

yoga with massage

So, although uncovering the intricacies and benefits of Massoga has been new to me, the concept of combining massage and yoga is not.

Over the years, I’ve seen a few different workshop-length yoga classes that combine yin yoga poses with massage and essential oils. It also reminds me of my favorite moment in a yoga class, when during Savasana, the yoga teacher squeezes your shoulders and perhaps even throws in a head and neck massage.

As far as I can tell, although I may be wrong, there isn’t anything that sets Massoga apart from a yoga with massage class.


Where Can I Practice Massoga?

Since taking my deep dive into the world of Massoga, I have been on the lookout for Massoga classes near me, but unfortunately, Massoga sessions are only on offer in Melbourne, Australia. That being said, keep an eye open for yoga-massage workshops because they definitely exist… and if you can’t find one on offer, why not try pitching it to your local yoga studio?

Alternatively, find a yoga buddy and treat each other to some Massoga — obviously, it helps if you both have some experience with giving massage!


Massoga Training and Retreats

With Australia set to open its borders to international travelers sooner rather than later (fingers crossed!), you could always take that 20+ hour flight to Queensland for a gorgeous tropical Massoga retreat. They have a few scheduled for 2022, and although they are pretty pricey (upwards of $2000 USD, excluding flights), they sound DIVINE.

Alternatively, you could head to Melbourne (less tropical, but excellent coffee) and join a three-day Massoga training to become a qualified Massoga teacher!

If you can’t afford the luxury of flying to Australia to experience the OG, here are yin yoga and massage retreats around the world.

Below I’m listing a few of my favorites.


Europe

5 Day Wellness and Yoga Holidays at The Beach in Ragusa, South of Sicily

massage and yoga in sicily

Come and do serious relaxing at this yin yoga vacation while receivinge daily massage by the beach with the smell of eucalyptus in the air. That’s correct, the center is located by the beach next to a eucalyptus forrest. This is the southernmost point of Europe – and also one of the most beautiful!


Duration: Five days, four nights
Price: From US$723
Closest Airport: Catania–Fontanarossa Airport
Airport pick-up included? (US$81 per person)
Skill Level: All
Languages: English, Italian and Spanish
Vegan Friendly?: Yes


8 Day Deluxe Massage, Surf, Hike, and Yoga Holiday in Cascais, Portugal

8 Day Deluxe Massage, Surf, Hike, and Yoga Holiday in Cascais, Portugal

One of the most popular retreat destinations in Europe and with good reason! Besides the obvious sheer beauty of Portugal, wake up to the sound of crashing waves, practice yoga, learn how to surf, receive daily massage, and meditate at sunset. Can’t go wrong here.


Duration: Eight days, seven nights
Price: From US$574
Closest Airport: Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS) – 20 minutes
Airport pick-up included? No
Skill Level: All
Languages: English
Vegan Friendly?: Yes


More yoga and massage holidays in Europe.


The Americas

6 Day Key West Reset and Restore Spiritual and Mental Health Yoga Retreat in Florida

The Florida Keys are always a good idea and this retreat will allow you to recharge and replenish under the care of specialists. You can pick from several sessions ranging from trauma release, manifest your best life, free yourself of anxiety, and more. All the usual yoga / meditation / massage are there too. Divine.


Duration: Six days, five nights
Price: From US$4,999
Closest Airport: Key West International Airport
Airport pick-up included? No
Skill Level: All
Languages: English
Vegan Friendly?: Yes


5 Day Nourish and Heal Yoga Holiday in Tulum

tulum massage retreat

Join this holiday if you’re looking for an immersive journey within — to health and regain vitality and peace. This all inclusive program will meet you at any level, no matter your needs. The focus here is on nutrition, self-care, movement, and reflection. Come as your are.


Duration: Five days, four nights
Price: From US$4,000
Closest Airport: Cancún International Airport
Airport pick-up included? Yes
Skill Level: All
Languages: English, Spanish
Vegan Friendly?: Yes


More yoga and massage holidays in The Americas.


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