The History & Development

The Origins of Thai Yoga Massage actually lie in India and not Thailand. Scriptures record that an Indian doctor named Shivago Komarpaj, was the founder of this great healing art. Shivago was a friend of Lord Buddha, chief physician within the Sangha and also personal physician to Magadha King Bimbisari 2500 yrs ago. Dr Shivago as he is affectionately referred to throughout Thailand, brought together his vast knowledge of the different yet similar systems of oriental medicine and created Thai Yoga Massage during his life. He is mentioned by name in the sacred Buddhist scriptures, the Pali Canon, as the father of medicine. He is also attributed as being the source of knowledge about healing herbs and minerals used in Thailand.

Unfortunately in 1776 the Burmese invaded Thailand and ransacked many temples and nearly all the ancient medical texts of Thai medicine and anatomical pictures were destroyed. But a few survived and in 1832 King Rama III, had the best of the surviving scriptures inscribed in stone tablets to preserve what was left. These stone tablets which include pictograms of Thai Yoga Massage and the 10 Sen lines, were set into the huge walls of the famous Wat Po temple of Bangkok. These stone carvings can still be seen today and show 60 figures; 30 of the front body and 30 of the back, which loosely reveal the Sen lines and some important acupressure points.

The monks of that time period were trained in the healing and martial arts and it was they who in general administered herbs, spiritual guidance and healing massage to the local populations. But Thai Massage was also practiced and passed down through families from generation to generation and many unique approaches were developed. All of these however are categorized within 2 distinct styles, with a Southern style called ‘Wat Po’ coming from Bangkok, considered slightly stronger and using more point pressure along sen lines than its Northern counterpart ‘Nuad Bo Rarn’ which uses more Yoga Asana style stretches. Yet with many Thai people moving between Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the Islands for work this definition is not so distinct any more. Then with western practitioners who have trained in both styles and also coming from a background in Yoga, Dance, Osteopathy and Shiatsu for example, Thai Yoga Massage is now becoming very creative and experimental. Beyond this short piece of information, little factual evidence is known about Thai Yoga Massage, but it does seem very obvious that it evolved from its ancient Indian Ayurvedic roots and Yoga