Wat Pho - Bangkok, Thailand
Would you believe me if I told you a form of Thai massage has existed since the beginning of the Hindu culture? It has been documented in ancient script as old as the Rig Vedas (“rig”praise, verse; “Vedas” knowledge). This text was composed around 1700-1100 BC.
It wasn’t until the time of the famous Buddha, Siddharta Gautama, yogic massage became known as Thai massage. It was the Buddha’s most revered physician, Jivaka Kumarbhaccha, who blended the simplistic Ayurvedic science (see Metabodyworks: Thai Massage and Ayurvedic Medicine- June 2013) with yoga and massage.
The Ayurvedic system uses body types to diagnose conditions, whereby they would prescribe a self-care plan. Its main focus is preventative care. Massage became the main healing tool in these traditional “clinics”, where there was no need to cut through skin, allowing the body to heal naturally rather than aggressively.
The Thai Buddhist temples (wat) plays a major role in the development of Thai Massage. It became the central healing center for Thais. The most famous institution today is in Bangkok, Wat Pho, it is the leading researcher and practice of Thai massage.
There are 2 schools of Thai massage in Thailand: the North (The Old Medical Hospital- Chiang Mai) and the South (Wat Pho- Bangkok). They can be seen as the Yang and the Yin. The north school is more dynamic using mainly palming and thumbing techniques, where the practitioner’s bodyweight moves through the arms and gradually the weight goes into the recipient. This detoxifies the recipient’s energy lines (nerve pathways).
The south’s yin style uses a plucking motion. The fingers are used in a strumming fashion to stimulate the nerves along the energy lines. Today, you can find many schools teaching a combination of both styles.
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”