What is Thai Massage?

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7Nuad Bo Rarn, literally translated as “ancient massage”, is a unique and comprehensive style of bodywork. Unlike its western counterpart, Nuad Bo Rarn, or Thai massage is performed on a mat on the floor and the client is fully clothed. Thai massage combines acupressure, yoga and massage to create a truly holistic massage experience.

There are two styles of Thai massage, Southern style or Wat Pho style and Northern style. These two styles of Thai massage come from the two original schools of Thai massage. Southern style originated at Wat Pho in Bangkok and Northern style comes from the Old Medicine Hospital in Chiang Mai. Both schools are still in operation today.

Although both styles of Thai massage have the same basic foundation there are considerable differences between the two massages. Southern style focuses primarily on acupressure and energy lines and employs a much stronger pressure. Northern style is slower and gentler (yet this is still a very strong massage) and focuses more on the yoga like stretching. Northern style Thai massage is what is most commonly practiced in the United States. In this course you are learning Northern style Thai massage.

his massage is unique in its characteristics as it can actually be a form of physical, emotional and mental exercise for both involved. The receiver actually becomes an active participant in the massage and the giver also benefits from the stretches if performed properly. More than that, Thai massage can be a form of meditation for both parties. Historically, Buddhist monks performed Thai massage in the temples as part of their Vippasana meditation to assist them in attaining a clear and peaceful mind.

sitting_buddhaThai massage dates back 2500 years to India at the time of Buddha. The founder of Thai massage was an ayurvedic physician named Dr. Shivago Komarpaj. He was a personal friend and doctor to the Lord Buddha. Dr Komarpaj created this system of , healing using the principles of yoga and ayurveda and taught the method to Buddhist monks who performed it in the temples.

Traditionally, Buddhist monks were nomadic and Buddhist temples were the centers for healing in a community. This is why overtime Dr Komarpaj’s system of healing spread to Thailand. Additionally, Thai people are descendants from China so the principles of Chinese Medicine combined with Dr Komarpaj’s methods are where Thai massage and Thai traditional gets its roots.

Thai traditional medicine became the main healing practice in Thailand. Families and tribes began practicing on each other and the knowledge was passed down from generation to generation. Ancient texts were created documenting the techniques and point locations and many still exist today.

In the late 1700’s Thailand was all but overrun by the Burmese. The old capital of Ayuthia was destroyed. Many of the ancient texts were lost. In 1832 King Rama III decided it was of utmost importance to preserve this ancient healing art. He had the most important remaining texts inscribed in stone and set into the walls of Wat Pho temple in Bangkok. The king made Wat Pho the first university and school for traditional medicine which is still in operation today.

As modern medicine became popular in the West, the practices began to make their way to the East as well. Traditional medicine was used less and less, especially in the cities. Although this modern medicine was able to do many things that traditional medicine could not, it became clear that there was a downside to the use of so many chemicals. For this reason in 1985 the Thai government launched the Thai massage revival project. By the mid 1990’s Thai massage was back in the forefront and began attracting international attention. Now Thai massage is increasing in popularity at spas and wellness centers across the world.