Thai massage and Thai medicine are said to have been practiced for over 2500 years and founded by the legendary Shivago Komarpaj (another variant is Jivaka Kumara Phaccha), who was a personal physician to the Sangha (Buddhist monks), a friend and physician to the Buddha and renowned as a healer in Buddhist tradition. Though there are many influences for Thai medicine from Chinese, Indian and Southeast Asian culture, credit is given mostly to Mr Komarpaj. As practiced and taught by Khun Paschal, this therapeutic massage emphasized balancing and strengthening and is based on the concept of vital life force energy. This energy flows along channels in the body called “sen”. “Sen” lines correspond to the meridians of Chinese medicine and the “nadi” of Indian points. These points are addressed specifically by the therapist doing the massage and are pressured, rubbed and stretched through manipulation by the therapists’ feet, knees, elbows and hands.
As a healer, Khun Phaccha’s social role was closer to a religious figure than to a medicinal doctor. As such, the ancient texts (originally on palm leaves) which describe his teachings, as well as the followers who continued in his path were closely associated with life within the temples and centers of Buddhist life. After the invading armies of Burma destroyed Ayutthaya, the capital was moved further south to Bangkok. As soon as the Royal Family settled down in the new Grand Palace, all surviving text and inscriptions referring to the ancient art of massage were summoned and brought to the neighboring temple, Wat Po and were transcribed to stone tablets, where they remain to this day.
Traditional Thai medicine is a natural, holistic approach to health and well-being, developed over thousands of years and this includes proper nutrition, physical exercise, the use of medicinal herbs and therapeutic massage. Besides curing diseases and ailments, the primary goal of traditional Thai medicine is maintaining health and well-being as the ancient Thais live by the saying, “the absence of illness is the best blessing”. Thai massage is one of the four branches of traditional Thai medicine. It is a healing technique that was practiced before doctors. The massage involves point pressure and stretching and it can be done on the floor, a firm mattress or a mat. It is a therapeutic procedure that provides relaxation and restores healthy blood circulation. It also treats energy blockages, weak dysfunctional organs, aches and pains, stress and tension, flexibility, paralysis, nerve problems and postural alignments.
Till this day, Wat Po continues to serve as foundation to the rich history of Thai massage. Wat Po has a very active school located within the temple grounds that serves as a training center for many massage therapists in Thailand.