Traditional Thaimassage has a long history of therapeutic healing. Tracing the evolution of the techniques of healing-massage practiced in Thailand, one discovers that the earliest roots of Thaimassage lie not in Thailand but in India.
The theoretical foundation of Thaimassage is based on the concept of invisible energy lines running through the body. The Indian origin and influence is obvious here since the background of this theory clearly lies in Yoga philosophy. Yoga philosophy states that life energy (called Prana) is absorbed with the air we breathe and with the food we eat. The human being is supplied with this vital energy along a network of energy lines, the Prana Nadis.
Disturbances in the flow of energy result in an insufficient supply of Prana, which can in turn lead to sickness. Working on the energy lines with massage can break the blockades, stimulate the free flow of Prana, and help to restore general well-being.
Out of these energy lines Thaimassage has selected 10 mainlines on which there are especially important acupressure points. Massaging these lines and points makes it possible to treat a whole range of diseases or to relieve pain. The 10 mainlines are sufficient to conduct practical treatment for the whole body and its internal organs.
Contrary to Western style massage, traditional Thaimassage does not primarily work with the physical body but rather with the energy body of man. The kneading of muscles, which dominates in Western style massage, is absent from Thaimassage: energy points are pressed or general pressure is used instead. There is a lot of stretching involved and many exercises might well be described as 'applied Hatha Yoga' or 'applied physical Yoga'. Rather than using the term 'Thaimassage', it wouldn't be a bad idea to actually call it 'Yoga massage' since that's what this art essentially is.
Massage was always considered to be a spiritual practice closely connected with the teachings of the Buddha. Until fairly recently, it was the Buddhist temple where massagewas taught and practiced. Even today one of the most important massage schools in Thailand is at the Wat Po monastery in Bangkok. A truly good masseur performs his art in a meditative mood. He works with full awareness, mindfulness and concentration developing an intuition for the Prana lines and energy flow in the body.