Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

What is Ayurvedic Yoga Massage?

Ayurvedic yoga massage is a deep tissue oil massage followed by assisted yoga stretches. As well as oils we use Acorus calamus (vekhno or vekhand or vakand) powder with the massage. This powder is very important – it makes it much more effective than an oil massage without powder. For more information, visit What is Ayurvedic Yoga Massage?

Where does it come from?

Ayurvedic in India means ‘therapeutic’ so this method of healing massage was called ‘Ayurvedic massage’. The ‘yoga’ came into the name after Kusum Modak developed what she was taught by her Ayurvedic massage guru in Pune, India, to reflect her knowledge of yoga, which she was taught by BKS Iyengar for many years. Hence ‘Ayurvedic yoga massage’.

What can I expect during a massage?

An Ayurvedic yoga massage is tailored to suit individual clients. It can be relaxing, energising, soothing, deep or remedial depending on your needs. Sessions last between 60 to 120 minutes depending on your requirements.

What’s the best length of treatment?

This depends on the individual: how quickly your body responds; how many parts of the body need deeper work; and your priorities/what you would like to get from your session. If you’d just like to relax and have an amazing full body massage experience then we’d recommend 90 minutes. If you’d like to start working deeper on different parts of your body then it depends how many parts of the body you’d like to work on, how quickly they respond, and whether you’d still like a full body massage as well as the deeper work. Generally, muscles will respond faster if (i) they haven’t been tight for a long time, and (ii) the body is used to yoga/bodywork/something where we feel some pain, breathe into it and then feel better. Then your brain associates being in that condition with relaxation rather than with danger/injury. We can work effectively on some people in 15 minutes, if they’re experienced yoga practitioners and we only work on the tightest part of their body. Many regulars prefer 2-3 hour sessions so they can have a full body massage with extra time to work deeper on the areas needing more attention. It’s really open ended as there’s always more that can be done!

How do I find a therapist in my area?

Check out our therapist directory for a list of our certified therapists. Please get in touch with us if there’s no therapist in your area and we’ll advise you further.

Who runs Ayurvedic Yoga Massage UK?

Despina Psarra came across Ayurvedic yoga massage in early 2011. After she completed all the training available, and due to the demand for massage practitioners, she qualified as a teacher and set up her own training school, AYM UK.

Can I book a massage with Despina?

Yes, Despina gives treatments in London and Leeds. Her sessions can be anything from 15 minutes to several hours long, depending on your needs. Please visit her profile page for more details.


What can I expect on a workshop?

On each of our workshops you’ll learn a short sequence to massage, mobilise and stretch a particular part of the body. You’ll then be split into pairs and given the opportunity to practise on each other.

Who are the workshops suitable for?

Our workshops are open to anyone who has an interest in learning about this style of massage, or who would like to massage their friends and loved ones. They would also suit experienced therapists who would like to add some AYM strokes and stretches to their existing practice, and yoga teachers who want to improve their hands-on adjustments.

How long are the workshops?

Each workshop is four hours long.

When is the next one?

Our workshops run throughout the year at various locations. Please see our workshops page for our latest events.

Certified Therapist Training

Who are the courses for?

Our Certified Therapist Training courses are aimed at anyone wanting to become a professional Ayurvedic yoga massage therapist. Please note: if you have a physical disability it may still be possible to offer AYM but please get in touch to discuss this further.

Do I need to take all the levels to be a practitioner?

Yes, you need to complete all five levels in order to become a professional massage therapist. You’ll then receive full certification and once you have insurance you’ll be eligible to practice. However, even after level 1 you’ll be able to give a full massage to friends and family.

Can I get insurance after doing just level 1?

Yes, you can get insurance and start working legally in the UK after completing level 1, however, your massage repertoire will be quite limited. We can recommend a company to you who can help you find the most appropriate insurance.

Do you run courses in Anatomy and Physiology?

Yes, our amazing trainer and therapist Charlotte Bamber runs the Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology courses, which we highly recommend.

Do you teach Ayurveda?

We do cover the basic principles of Ayurveda and dosha types if students are interested, but really Ayurveda is a science that takes years to master and you’ll get different opinions from different Ayurvedic doctors. So, instead of focusing on doshas, we focus on identifying and working on energy blockages and developing our own intuition.

What’s the difference between Thai massage and Ayurvedic yoga massage?

Traditional Thai massage is given with the client fully clothed, so it’s not an oil massage. In AYM we can warm up and soften the muscle tissues and fascia a lot quicker through oil massage, and we can also flush fluids in and out of the body in a very effective way. AYM developed as a deep tissue oil massage followed by assisted yoga stretches, so you don’t need to study more than one modality to learn a technique that works amazingly well.

Are your courses accredited?

Our Certified Therapist Training courses include the syllabus requirements of The General Council of Massage Therapists – this is an umbrella organisation for massage therapist associations in the UK. You’ll receive a certificate upon completion of each course.

Is there an accrediting body or association for AYM?

AYM developed in India through a long lineage of practitioners. As such, it has always been taught experientially, i.e. as a technique without the Western theory of anatomy, physiology, pathology or ethics. At AYM UK we have added the “missing” parts of the training, taught by experts in their respective fields, as we believe it’s equally valuable to learn from Western fountains of knowledge as from Eastern ones. This means that AYM UK students now fulfil the requirements of professional associations. We’re currently in the process of developing our own AYM association, as the number of trained therapists is increasing. This will provide representation and accreditation in the near future.

I’m on a low income, do you offer an installment plan?

Yes, please get in touch for more details about this scheme.

Level 1 Course

Are there any prerequisites for the Level 1 training?

No, this course is aimed at beginner level. The pace is adjusted to the group, which means we ensure the pace is comfortable for the students who started with the least experience. If you have previous experience of yoga and/or massage (either practising/receiving or offering treatments/teaching), you will find it easier to learn the techniques than if you don’t. So, if you don’t have any experience, and you would like to increase your confidence and make the Level 1 training a lot easier for you, then you could come to a 4-hour workshop first. Then you will already have some contact with the method, and can also get some practice before you start your L1 course, so you will find the course a lot easier. Yoga teachers wanting to deepen their knowledge of the body and adjustments are most welcome.

How long is the course?

The Level 1 training is 15 hours given over one weekend, i.e. 8 to 8.5 hour days including breaks.

What will I learn?

Level 1 includes learning a sequence to massage the back of the body with the client lying face down. Even after this first weekend you’ll be able to give a 60-90 minute massage that feels like a full body massage, even though we don’t cover the whole of the body.

Level 2 Course

Are there any prerequisites for the Level 2 training?

Yes, you need to have completed Level 1 in order to progress onto level 2.

How long is the course?

The Level 2 training is 15 hours given over one weekend, i.e. 8 to 8.5 hour days including breaks.

What will I learn?

Level 2 includes massaging the front of the body with the client face up. This includes the front of the legs, adductors, quadriceps, abductors, knees; massaging the abdomen and the chest; the neck, head and face. We will also learn some stretches with the client face up, and a few stretches with the client in a seated position. By attending levels 1&2 you’ll be able to offer a complete full body massage which will leave your clients feeling like they’re walking on clouds.

Level 1-2 Intensive

Are there any prerequisites for the Level 1-2 training?

No, but an interest in massage and/or yoga would be beneficial. Yoga teachers wanting to deepen their knowledge of the body and adjustments are most welcome.

How long is the course?

The Level 1-2 intensive is 30 hours given over five 7-hour days, including breaks.

What will I learn?

You will learn the entire AYM sequence and be able to give a full body massage by the end of the 30 hours.

Levels 3 to 5

What’s covered in Level 3?

Level 3 includes more stretches and you will learn the tools to really help with a wide range of client needs. You’ll also practice what you learned in Levels 1-2 again, and have the opportunity to ask questions and clarify anything that you still find difficult.

What’s covered in Level 4?

Level 4 includes much more reflective practice and is about improving client experience: giving full massages; thinking about which parts of AYM are most appropriate for each client; refining all aspects of giving a treatment, including the introduction to your session, managing energy in your session and client care after the session. During level 4 you’ll receive a lot of feedback and what you’ve learned in Levels 1-3 will become much more solidified.

Should I take a break after completing L1-2 before starting L3-4?

We recommend that you attend Levels 3-4 earlier rather than later if you can. It’s designed so it works well either way, especially if you practise between courses. But if you complete up to Level 4 quite quickly, you’ll be more confident, better equipped to deal with a wider range of client needs and better able to design custom-made sessions. Levels 3-4 are still early stages and a steep learning curve, so it’s best to get​ as much training as you can as soon as possible after you start practising. You can always practise for a while and come back to Level 5 later in the year.

What’s covered in Level 5?

In Level 5 you repeat Levels 1-4 again so you can deepen and refine your skills much more. It’s difficult to explain just how useful this is, but by the time you finish Level 4 you will have seen how much better you get with repetition, the opportunity to have more supervised practice, ask questions and receive personalised feedback addressed at helping you develop as a therapist in the most effective way. Of course, you’ll always continue to learn and develop as a therapist, but by repeating Levels 1-4 again you’ll still be on a fairly steep learning curve.

CPD Courses

Are the AYM UK courses certified by an external organisation?

Yes, AYM UK technique and CPD courses are certified by Baldari Ethics Consultancy, Ltd. Accreditation is through the State of Virginia, USA

Are AYM UK courses up to UK Professional Association standards?

Yes, all our course syllabuses fulfil The Council for Soft Tissue Therapies (GCMT) standards. GCMT is the umbrella organisation for all massage therapist associations in the UK.

Don't take our word for it!

Find out what people think of our training courses, workshops and massage therapists on our Testimonials page

Watch AYM in action

Watch examples of Ayurvedic Yoga Massage sessions on our Videos page

Still have questions?

If you still have any questions about AYM, our training events, therapists or how to book, please get in touch