When was the last time you focussed on your breath? Or had a massage to ease the tensions you carry in your shoulders and back? How about learning these from the best? With wellness exploring the different ways culture and nation strive for a healthy lifestyle, Thailand is home to the confluence of healing and urbanity. Meditations, massages, yoga, art- Thailand has it all. The people, the land, and the culture of Thailand are intricately linked with each other in the practices followed here. Added to UNESCO’s Intangible Culture Heritage of Humanity list, Nuad Thai or the Thai massage is one of the most famous and revered therapies of the Thai culture. In Nuad Thai, a person stretches and moves their limbs with the help of a trained therapist. The birthplace of traditional Thai massage is Wat Pho. This temple is known for the reclining Buddha figure. When you enter the temple, you witness a series of images inscribed on the walls and pillars. These depict the traditional medicine and “sen” or energy lines. If you want to master the technique as well, you are welcomed to participate in the comprehensive 5-day course. Want to be a professional? A 30-days course at Wat Pho is all you need. Also known as Thailand’s first university where traditions of Thai massage and medicine were taught, Wat Pho was built by an Ayutthaya period ruler, a long time before Bangkok was established as the capital. The Grand Palace next to it was later built during the reign of King Rama 1. The king also ordered the complete restoration of the temple in 1788. Following another major renovation during the reign of King Rama 3, the temple was turned into a learning centre for all.
Wat Pho became the knowledge centre about traditional Thai medicine. The massage school founded here still exists. You will find many stone statues around it depicting various massage techniques. Wat Pho is known as the birthplace of Thai massage, with massage courses open to anyone willing to learn. Visit here between 8 in the morning to 6 in the evening for a relieving massage. But a massage shouldn’t be all that you experience in this beautiful nation.
How about leaning into your subconscious for well-being?
Offering a multitude of benefits, meditation can help you tap into your internal reserves of health and calmness. In Buddhism, meditation is woven into daily life. It can be as simple as sitting down for a minute each morning and focussing on your breath. Close to the Chao Phraya River, Wat Pho is easily accessible by road and mass rapid transit system. You can get down at Sanam Chai MRT station and take a 5-minute walk to the temple. You would notice that there are 71 chedis built in the temple complex. These contain the ashes of the royal family, while the 20 bigger ones contain the relics of Buddha.
The temple is lit up at night and the reflective mirrors are brought to life in the silence of the city and the lights of the Wat Pho. Isn’t that what life is all about- finding the light within you! As you sit down and relax, you scan your body for tensions. Feel that tightness between your shoulders? The frown on your forehead; Let all of it go. The body feels light and almost transparent as if accepting the kindness that you bestow it with. Focus your awareness to a small point in the centre of your body. While this can be quite a task initially, you will notice that practicing works in a few days. As the pandemic has gripped the world by fear and gloom, a lot of activities can help us relax and centre ourselves. Observing and being present can help you be mindful and enjoy the process. Staying in and staying safe is the mantra these days. While it can take a toll on your emotions, it is important to feel them and master them. Safety and health are a priority for the locals as well as international travellers looking to visit Thailand once borders open up. A unique certification scheme has been launched by the tourism and health authorities of Thailand. This would help prepare the Thai tourism industry for recovery and enhance the confidence among tourists.
Under the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration
SHA programme, establishments that apply, such as hotels, restaurants, tourism attractions, transport services, etc, will undergo strict inspection. They will then be assigned the SHA logo to serve as a mark of quality certification of the service standards. This logo will be issued by TAT with a validity period of two years. Till then, stay healthy, stay safe 🙂