Thai massage is a sacred form of bodywork widely practiced in Thailand today. For centuries it was done in Thai temples and homes. Its origins are shrouded in mystery, but seem to have derived mainly from Indian Ayurvedic medicine as well as from Yoga, Buddhism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Thai indigenous healing arts.
Buddhism was the main vehicle through which Ayurveda was carried from India to the rest of Asia. The spread of Buddhism occurred primarily through the dynamic effort of India's great emperor, Ashoka, in the 2nd century BC. A recent convert to Buddhism, Ashoka was so enthused by it that he sent large numbers of Buddhist monks abroad to teach. Many of them also knew Ayurvedic medicine and practiced it as a way of actualizing the Buddhist principle of loving kindness. These emissary monks had a deep impact on all the cultures they came into contact with. Wherever they went, their spiritual and therapeutic knowledge was integrated with the local area's religious and healing practices.
In Thailand, the knowledge of these Indian monks on Ayurveda, Yoga, and Buddhism was combined with Thai indigenous healing techniques and most probably with healing techniques from China. A powerful massage modality evolved from these. It came to be known as Nuad Bo' Rarn which literally means ancient healing touch.
Nuad Bo'Rarn is based on the belief that energy known as lom runs throughout the body. An extensive variety of techniques are used to balance this energy, as well as to mobilize the joints, and renew the physical, and spiritual body resulting in deep relaxation and renewal. These techniques include reflexology, acupressure, plucking, compression work, therapeutic stretching, joint mobilization, assisted yoga poses, prayer and meditation. To allow for ease of movement during the session, both the practitioner and receiver wear loose, comfortable clothes. All the work is done on a mat on the floor.
Over time various regional styles developed in Thailand each with their own focus. In the north, the emphasis has been more on stretching than in other regions, whereas in the south, it has been more on plucking.
The style Ananda does is from the north and is based on the work of master healer and teacher, Pichest Boonthumme. Pichest is largely responsible for having put together the most dynamic and flowing of the northern styles.
In recent years with the revival of interest in Nuad Bo'Rarn, various names have been given to it such as Thai Massage, Traditional Thai Massage, Thai Yoga Massage, and Traditional Thai Yoga Massage.
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