The healing art known as Nuad Boran (meaning "ancient massage") began to evolve more than 2,000 years ago in present-day Thailand. What is today called Thai massage or Thai yoga massage is an ancient healing system combining acupressure, energy balancing techniques, Indian ayurvedic principles, and assisted yoga postures.
The founding father of Nuad Boran is an ayurvedic doctor named Jivaka Kumar Bhacca, who is revered to this day throughout Thailand as the "father of medicine." Born in India during the time of the Buddha, he is mentioned in a variety of ancient documents for his extraordinary medical skills, for his knowledge of herbal medicine, and for having treated important people of his day, including the Buddha himself.
Traditions in Thailand were passed down orally among the common people, but the royal court kept ancient reference texts on the subject of Nuad Boran. Sadly, most of these were lost when Burmese invaders destroyed the old capital of Ayuthaya in 1767. Remaining fragments of the texts, however, were commissioned to be redrawn as stone etchings by King Rama III in 1832. Today, more than 60 such epigraphs showing treatment points and energy lines are on public display at the famous Wat Pho temple complex in Bangkok.
The theoretical basis for traditional Thai healing is rooted in the belief that all forms of life are sustained by a vital force (lom) that is carried along invisible energy pathways (sen) running through our bodies. This energy force is extracted from air, water, and food, and it is believed that disease and dysfunction come about when energy becomes blocked along these pathways. Accordingly, Thai massage's intent is to free this trapped energy, stimulate the natural flow of life force, and maintain a general balance of wellness.
Through assisted yoga, the body is able to be moved in ways that are difficult to attain through normal exercise and individual practice. Relaxed, deep breathing helps to bring about proper balance and a peaceful state of mind. The practice of Thai yoga massage is also a spiritual discipline since it incorporates the Buddhist principles of mindfulness (breath awareness) and loving kindness (focused compassion). The benefits of all these techniques, when shared by practitioner and client, help to bring the treatment session to a focused and profound level. The result of a full-body Thai session is often an exciting and powerful mind/body experience, bringing both the recipient and the practitioner to greater states of physical and mental well-being.
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