Wat Pho Massage School

Wat Pho Massage School
Wat Pho Massage School

Amidst the glittering ornate viharns and chedis with the multi-coloured mosaics of Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn is a low, modest whitewashed building topped by a shingled roof. The benches in the reception area of this building are always crammed with people waiting their turn. Within the wooden doors is a large hall, lined with mattresses on either side of a main aisle. On some, people are being contorted into impossible shapes, on others, masseuses flex limbs, rotating them first this way and then that. This is where thousands of students from all over the globe come to learn the intricacies of nuat phaen boran, or literally “ancient manner massage”.

Dubbed the “lazy man’s yoga”, Nuad Phaen Boran incorporates yogic stretches, deep compressions, acupressure, herbal and spa treatments, meditation, and Buddhist philosophies, that draw from its roots in the ancient Indian system of traditional medicine known as Ayurveda, of which yoga is also a part of. Conceptually, it is based on the yoga philosophy that suggests that we receive prana, or life energy, by way of an interconnecting network of 72,000 energy lines that run along our bodies, and powers all physical, mental and emotional processes. Thus when any of these lines are disrupted, so is the body’s harmony, bringing on diseases and pain. To break up any energy snarl-ups, the masseur focuses on 10 of these vital lines (or sip sen), massaging along them to stimulate the flow of prana, and promote general well being.

If you want to get a massage, simply turn up here and queue up until a masseur is free. Courses to learn this traditional art are also available and you can get more information at their website.

Wat Pho Massage School

This is also the largest temple complex in the city, covering some 20 acres, and the oldest too, built some 200 years before Bangkok became the capital. It also ticks the box for the largest reclining Buddha and most number of Buddha images in Thailand. In 1781, King Rama I ordered what was then known as Wat Photharam to be completely rebuilt as part of his new capital. His successor later ordered the massive reclining Buddha to be built and the temple became the country’s first university; inscriptions, paintings and sculptures throughout the complex deal with subjects as varied as warfare, palmistry, archaeology, astronomy and literature, as well as yoga, from which Thai massage is said to have evolved.

At 45 metres in length and 15 metres in height, the striking statue depicts the Buddha entering into Nirvana; it is finished in gold leaf and the feet and eyes are inlaid with mother-of-pearl. More than 1,000 other Buddha images dot the temple grounds, most of them coming from the ruins of Ayuthaya and Sukhothai.



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