Thai Yoga Massage a unique offering in GJ

Masseuse Jill Whinnery, left, works on Christine Gallagher by using Thai yoga massage at Journey to Wellness, 551 Grand Ave.

Jill Whinnery found her passion for massage 25 years ago when she became a certified massage therapist shortly after graduating high school.

Nearly two decades into her massage career, she discovered Thai Yoga Massage, a traditional Thai massage method that involves a therapist applying pressure to points along the body and holding a person in yoga postures. She quickly became hooked and passed two certification classes in Thai Yoga Massage at the White Lotus Foundation in her hometown of Santa Barbara, Calif.

Although others offer Thai massage, Whinnery is the only practitioner she knows who offers Thai Yoga Massage specifically in Grand Junction. She performed massage part-time and worked as a science teacher at Central and Grand Junction high schools from 1999 to 2007 before going full-time at Olsson Physical Therapy at 1119 N. First St., Unit J. In July, she moved from Olsson Physical Therapy, where she still works about one hour a week, to Journey for Wellness, a practice at 551 Grand Ave. that offers massage, osteopathic manual medicine, acutonics, herbal remedies and natural health counseling.

In addition to Thai Yoga Massage, Whinnery offers meditation classes and hot stone and Swedish massage. She said she has more clients for Swedish massage than Thai. She believes more clients would try Thai Yoga Massage if they knew what it was. Whinnery said she expects more people to learn about Thai Yoga Massage because she has seen more mentions of it in massage and yoga publications in recent years. But for now, she said it’s rare to find massage therapists who provide Thai Yoga Massage in Colorado or anywhere else in the U.S.

“It’s foreign and it’s not in people’s awareness, so they don’t know it might be a good thing for them,” Whinnery said. “Most people who come in, it’s their first time. They’ve either heard about it somewhere and think they’ll benefit from it or they are into yoga and think they’ll take to it well.”

Although Yoga is in the name, Whinnery emphasizes Thai Yoga Massage is not just for limber yogis. She asks clients to lie on a cushioned mat, fully clothed, as she lifts parts of their bodies into stretching positions. Clients don’t have to help the movement or hold it, just go into rag doll mode.

The parts of Thai Yoga Massage more massage enthusiasts may find familiar are when Whinnery uses oils to massage hands, feet and neck. She also massages along pressure points and “sen” lines, which are “energy lines” used in traditional Thai healing methods. The massage is supposed to unclog those lines, releasing energy and improving circulation throughout the body. Christine Gallagher, who works with Whinnery at Journey for Wellness, has been a recipient of her colleague’s massages and said it creates a tingle of circulation in her body.

“It is so amazingly, deeply relaxing immediately,” she said. “I love massage, both Swedish and Thai. They’re different but both relaxing.”

Whinnery charges $1 per minute plus $5 for massages that are typically 60, 75 or 90 minutes in length. She can perform longer massages though — the final for her Thai Yoga Massage certification was a four-hour, observed massage.

To contact Journey for Wellness, call 812-6356 or visit


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