Drawing from Thai history, cultural studies, Buddhist religion, and yogic practices, as well as the authors' experience teaching in the most prestigious massage schools in Thailand and the U.S., this guidebook bridges the gap between theory and practice. Bodywork is presented here as it is understood in Thailand-as a therapeutic medical practice. The authors provide a detailed analysis of each step in the Thai massage routine, while also covering the history, spiritual tradi-tions, and therapeutic philosophy in an engaging, informational style. Numerous photographs and diagrams illustrate the variety of techniques used, and a section on the main energy merid-ians and diagrams of acupressure points is included.
Updated with new layout, photos, and completely re-written text, this exhaustive handbook is replete with examples of procedures for treating specific disorders, making it the perfect tool to accompany anyone working with this popular healing therapy.
Dr. C. Pierce Salguero is a researcher of Asian medicine, a college professor, and senior instructor and director of research at the Thai Institute of Healing Arts. He trained as a Thai massage instructor at the prestigious Thai Massage School Shivagakomarpaj (Old Medicine Hospital) in Chiang Mai, and received his Ph.D. in the History of Medicine from the Johns Hopkins Medical School. Dr. Salguero has written five books on many aspects of Traditional Thai Medicine.
THIS IS A COMPREHENSIVE book about one of the main branches of Traditional Thai Medicine, known in the West as Thai Massage. The manipulation of the body with in-tent to heal is a practice probably as old as the human body itself. The instincts to press one's head when it aches or to rub a sore calf muscle lie at the foundation of this healing technique. Historically, this natural instinct for healing touch has been developed and systematized to a high degree in many Asia cultures, where massage is an important part of systems of traditional medicine.
In Siam (premodern Thailand), indigenous medical practices, including massage, intermingled with Chinese and Indian influences and developed into a complex medical tradition encompassing therapy for the mind, body, and vital energies. Long preserved in Buddhist temples, which served as community centers and cultural libraries, Thai medical wisdom was transmitted from teacher to student through oral and written tradition, resulting in the fascinating amalgam of mythology, medicine, and spirituality that is still practiced today across the country.
This book will cover many aspects of Thai Massage, based on my experience as a teacher of Thai medicine since the mid-1990s. 1 first attended and later taught at a bilingual traditional medi-cine school, the Thai Massage School Shivagakomarpaj ("Old Medicine Hospital") in Chiang Mai. In 1997, Ajahn Sintorn wrote me a letter recognizing me as a teacher' and granted me permission to dissfminate his teachings in the West. I also studied with many other teachers, both well known and otherwise, while living in Thailand for 26 months over the course of the 1990s and early 2000s. Upon my return to the United States in 2001, I founded the Tao Mountain School of Traditional Thai Massage and Herbal Medicine, which merged with the Thai Institute of Healing Arts in 2009.
I should say at the outset that any of my teachers would say it is impossible to learn from a book without hands-on guidance, and I would agree. The oral tradition is still honored in Thailand to this day, and most massage teachers operate by verbally explaining and physically demonstrating each movement while their students listen and watch. Even in the massage schools that offered textbooks for their courses, the books are seldom more than a series of crude drawings. To this day, there has not been very much written on the subject of Thai medical theory, either by Thais or by Western practitioners, and a systematic explanation of the theory of Thai Massage is virtually impossible to come by. Massage teachers in Thailand are unlikely to give direct answers to theoretical questions, and will expect the students instead to learn these answers through their own diligence, practice, and patience. Western aficionados of Thai massage impatient for deeper understanding often mistakenly apply Chinese, Indian, or biomedical theory to the practice, sometimes grossly distorting Thai tradition in the process.
Despite my best intentions to convey the techniques of Thai Massage as clearly as possible, the reader must realize that learning this massage from a book is a vastly different experience than learning with a traditional teacher. The structured lessons at the hospital were invaluable as a base of knowledge for further practice. In my own training, however, it was the contradictory and un-structured sessions with traditional practitioners outside of a formal institutional setting that allowed me to experience this knowledge as a true art. Like transitioning from learning scales to playing jazz improvisations, or from drilling on basketball skills to becoming a star professional player, these masters had internalized their techniques so deeply that rote learning had given way to intuition. It was watching the graceful dances of these teachers as they worked with patients that instilled in me an everlasting respect and love for their priceless cultural heritage.
It is in this creative and intuitive spirit that many Western practitioners go on to combine Thai Massage techniques with a wide range of other healing arts from East and West (including Yoga Therapy, Swedish massage, Reiki, Shiatsu, and many other types of bodywork). In this book, on the contrary, I will allow the Thai tradition to stand on its own merits. I do so in order to convey to the reader the depth and totality of this art, and to honor the Thai people who taught me.
I have attempted to conscientiously transmit this healing knowledge as it was taught to me. I have brought to this book a discussion of proper alignment and safety from my personal practice of yoga, some reference to modern anatomy for convenience and precision, and an interest in history and culture cultivated through my academic training as a Ph.D. in the history of medicine. On the whole, however, my mission in this edition of the book continues to be to present the material in the most authentic way possible. In the second edition, I have brought on board my good friend and long-time collaborator David Roylance as a contributing author. David brings thousands of hours of experience in teaching Thai Massage to all sorts of students, and a wealth of knowledge and personal experience of the Thai culture. He also has been given the unique distinction of being recognized as the head of the Shivagakomarpaj Lineage in the West.
This book is an offering to my teachers, and to the lineages to which we belong. Despite the difficulty of woken communication, they taught me much with their hands, with gestures, and with endless patience and smiles. I gratefully dedicate this book to my primary teacher Ajahn Sintorn Chaichakan; to my teachers at "Old Medicine," Ajahn Wasan Chaichakan, Sutat, Pramost, Daeng, Sasitorn, Song, and others; to my teachers at other schools in Chiang Mai, including Mama Lek, Pikun, and Mama Nit; and to all my teachers, whether they taught me for months or hours. May they be happy, well, and safe wherever they may now be.
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