History of Thai Massage

Thai Yoga Massage is a member of the oriental bodywork family which is based on the intrinsic energy flow and energy balance theory of health and healing. Other members include Tui Na Chinese massage and manipulation, ayurvedic Indian massage and shiatsu Japanese massage.

Tui Na and ayurvedic massage both date back over 4000 years and it is within these systems where Thai Yoga massage techniques have their roots. The Indian Yogic influence is obvious but less so are the energy channels or lines, known as Sen, based on Tui Na. Aspects of Indian Ayurvedic medicine can still be found in Thailand today along with herbal treatments, steam baths and massage doctors.

Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha supposedly was a friend and physician of the last Buddha aboiut 2500 years ago. He is revered as the father of Thai massage and traditional medicine. Much of the origins of Thai massage and traditional Thai medicine still remain obscure, but it is believed that the teachings of Kumar Bhaccha reached what is now Thailand at the same time as Buddhism.

Medical texts including detailed descriptions of Thai massage were eventually recorded in Pali language on palm leaves. They were venerated as religious texts and held in safe keeping in the old capital of Ayuthaya.

When the Burmese invaded they destroyed the old libraries and documents and many texts were lost. An oral tradition continued being passed from teacher to student.

In 1832 King Rama 111 had all surviving texts carved in stone which are still evident at Wat Po, a celebrated temple in Bangkok. There are over sixty stones left each depicting various techniques.

Until quite recently, the healing art of Thai massage was practiced only by monks as part of traditional medicine which also included meditation and herbs.

I invite you to learn more about Thai massage by signing up for one of my workshops or checking out some additional history over here.