History of Thai Massage

Thai massage is properly called, “Nuad Boran” which translates as “ancient massage.” As with other forms of massage and bodywork in the Asia, Thai massage has historically been a key factor in Eastern medicine. Thai massage has its roots in the science of yoga, Thai medicine, and Buddhism.

Thai massage was said to appear after Buddhism was brought to Thailand (then known as the kingdom of Siam) from India some 2000 years ago. Indian traditions in Ayurveda and yoga mixed with the local healing traditions of indigenous peoples of Thailand. Buddhist Temples provided more official centers for education and healing where the practice of Thai massage was refined. There are, however, very few written records of the development of Thai massage through the ages because of its nature as an oral tradition. Most written records of Thai massage that had existed, were lost when the Burmese invaded Thailand in 1776.

Currently there are two styles of Thai massage: Northern, which has its base in the Old Medicine Hospital in Chaig Mai and Southern, based in Bangkok at the Wat Po temple and school. Historically the difference between the styles was that the northern style employed its basis in the Ayurvedic and yogic methods of India by being more focused on more stretching and yoga – like techniques. In contrast, the Southern style has been heavily influenced by Chinese medicine and therefore focuses more a pressure points.

Because of the ease of travel and communication, the two styles grow increasingly mixed and overlap.  As Thai massage grows internationally, techniques continue to evolve from the variety of practitioners, their backgrounds, and the influence of western medicine.

Though Thai massage deals with gross anatomy as opposed to other energy practices such as Reike, it is important to note that the flow of energy is the basis on which all Thai massage has been developed. Although Thai massage was primarily influenced by Ayurvedic medicine from India, there is a difference between the nadis (ayurvedic energy lines) and sen (thai energy lines). This holds true for the Chinese meridians as well.