Thursday, 23 July 2015



Thai Massage some history and modern developments. 


What we now know as Thai massage formed over thousands of years from a conglomeration of Asian influences. Early Massage and medical practices of indigenous South East Asian peoples have combined with early Chinese medical ideas and early Indian Ayurvedic medicine and yogic ideas.

I emphasise the word early as there has been a modern tendency to overlay  fully developed modern Chinese, Indian and yogic theory onto Thai medical and massage theory, which is a little misleading as it already exists as a fully developed theory in its own right.  

Thai massage is sometimes referred to as Thai Yoga Massage, which, while appealing is also partly misleading. The (over) emphasis on stretches in some modern Thai massage is partly a consequence of non-Thais being over exposed to this element of the massage which traditionally would only use stretches as an adjunct to to a whole multitude of other bodywork techniques. 

Traditional Thai medical theory for massage would include its own complex element theory (Earth, Water, Fire, Wind  and sometimes Space and Consciousness)  and constitutional analysis as a foundation to decide what mode of massage is appropriate for an individual. 

On closer analysis many aspects of this element theory is not so different from Western medical anatomy and physiology and the aim, as with most massage, is to relieve pain and restore movement and function to areas of the body that are stuck, blocked up or restricted in some way. 

Behind this is an idea that the massage therapist works through layers of the body (skin, tissue, sen, bone (joints) and organs) to restore health . Organ work is a more specialist area , but much of the rest of the layers are addressed by most modes of Thai massage...

All of this is enveloped within the container of the Thai cultural environment and Buddhism. An understanding and sensitivity to the human condition as described in Buddhism is an important supportive element of Thai massage practice.  


With this behind it, Thai massage has no real need to borrow from other disciplines. Fusions with other ideas maybe beneficial at times, and are inevitable as that is how disciplines develop. But it is as well to check if what is being added enhances the depth of what is already there or if it is just a marketing gimmick..