A Brief History of Thai – Massage at its finest
Thai Yoga Bodywork, Thai Yoga Massage, Thai Massage, Nuad Bo rarn (Ancient Massage), all refer to the ancient healing art that is said to have been pioneered by Jivaka Kumara Baccha, the thrice crowned King of Doctors.
Jivaka and his role
Jivaka Kumara Baccha is universally considered the father and pioneer of Thai Yoga Bodywork and his role began with his education in medicine and surgery at Taxila. He then became the royal physician for his patron Bimbisara, followed by his successor Ajatashatru, as well as the Sangha of Buddhist monks and nuns.
According to Ananda Apfelbaum, in the book Thai Massage: Sacred Bodywork, Jivaka’s prowess in paediatrics, brain, and abdominal surgery was unparalleled, as was his knowledge of meditation and Yoga. It is believed that Jivaka combined his understanding of human anatomy and common ailments, and the benefits of yoga and meditation to outline the practice of the Ancient Massage. Subsequently, it is believed that the practitioners and the knowledge of the Ancient Massage reached Thailand through the people migrating between India and China, who then passed on this knowledge to the people who finally migrated to Thailand. It was popularised in Thailand as Nuad Bo rarn or Ancient Massage.
The Ayutthaya Connection
Ayutthaya was the ancient capital of the kingdom that would become the Thailand we know today and given the migration from China, the knowledge and practice of the Ancient Massage also followed and was popularised by the people and the royal court. While there is no real record that the teachings of Jivaka or the knowledge of Thai Yoga Massage was ever documented, it is accepted that the Burmese sacking of Ayutthaya in 1776 destroyed any possibility of recovering any documented text pertaining to the Ancient Massage. However, the healing art did thrive and became popular across the world after the Government of Thailand took over the administration of Thai Yoga Bodywork teaching and practice.
Thailand and the Ancient Massage
Such is the tourist interest in massage therapies in Thailand, that the Government of Thailand has set a target of 20 Billion Baht or US$ 560.389 Million per year in revenue from the spa businesses. Ancient Massage being a very important part of the offering of spas in Thailand contributes significantly to this figure. Thus, the Thai Government has also instituted an accreditation body that certifies practitioners and teachers of the Thai Massage.
From then to now
From the time of Jivaka Kumara Baccha, or Shivago Komarpaj as he is known in Thailand, to this day, Thai Yoga Bodywork has undergone a sea change – but only in the perspectives and the practice. The knowledge still dates back to the teachings of Jivaka and Buddha. To this day, Thai Yoga Bodywork relies on the knowledge of Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda, and the Ancient Chinese concepts of Sen to deliver the benefits of this healing art. Luckily, learning this healing art is now easier than it was back then – at IMOSHA, we transfer two and a half millennia, worth of knowledge and precision into a four-week programme that covers everything from the basics to advanced techniques such as Guasa and Toksen.