~ History of Thai Massage ~
Traditional Thai massage can look back at a long history of therapeutic healing. The earliest roots of Thai massage lie not in Thailand but in India. The legendary founder of the art is believed to have been a doctor from northern India. Known as Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, he was a contemporary of the Buddha and personal physician to the Magadha King Bimbisara over 2,500 years ago.
The theoretical foundation of Thai massage is based on the concept of invisible energy lines running through the body. Ten of these lines are especially important in Thai massage: ‘The 10 Sen’ or sib sen. The Indian origin and influence becomes obvious here since the background of this theory clearly lies in Yoga philosophy. The 10 Sen are sufficient to conduct practical treatment for the whole body and its internal organs. Western scientists are still puzzled by the fact that these lines and points do seem to have validity. These points can be thought of as ‘windows’ into the body. Working on the energy lines with massage can break the blockades, stimulate the flow of Prana (life energy), and help to restore well-being.
More and more tourists are returning from Thailand with lasting impressions of a massage that is more like yoga. Performed through your clothes, Thai Traditional Massage leaves you in a state of sublime relaxation. Its mechanics show a strong Indian Ayurvedic and yogic influence, but a very disciplined emphasis on energy channels betrays a link with Chinese Traditional Medicine. Traditional medicine has existed for over 1000 years, in pretty much the same form that is used today. Its recent world-wide spread has been quite phenomenal.
Thai Massage is a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. It is a deep tissue massage using no oils as do many Western Massages. Thai Massage incorporates the use of hands, thumbs, elbows, forearms, knees and feet to manipulate various body zones with acupressure, deep muscle compression, yoga, stretching, joint mobilization and reflexology. The massage focuses on the muscoskeletal system (the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues). It is especially beneficial for those who find themselves stiff, sore or tired from over exertion in work or sports. A Thai Massage will leave the client feeling totally refreshed and invigorated. The body will benefit from the release of tension, restoration of vitality and allows the free flow of the bodies energy. It improves circulation, flexibility and muscle tone as well as encouraging lymphatic functions to help detoxify the body.
Successive kings promoted and developed native, natural massage techniques even though it was mainly focused in the family. The art of massage has been passed down through the family practitioners over the generations. Today it is very popular both in Thailand and throughout the developed world. Wat Pho Murals Among the Thai people, Wat Pho is well known as the first university of Thailand. It was King Rama III (1824-1851) who ordered the renovation of the temple, and made the temple the centre of knowledge by having the temple walls covered with numerous stone tablets inscribed with writings about various branches of knowledge, so that the knowledge could be spread more widely and easily. The king also ordered the attachment of pictures of traditional Thai massage showing various channels and points on the human body, and the placement of statues of Yoga postures and 317 marble slabs bearing 1,100 formulae of curative herbal medicines in the temple. As a result, Wat Pho became an appropriate place for providing knowledge on traditional Thai massage and a school for teaching this subject was opened over 40 years ago, being the first school of this kind in Thailand. Wat Pho’s Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School offers courses on Thai Traditional Medicine and Practice, Thai Herbal Drugs and Thai Traditional Massage.