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What is Wai Kru?

The Wai Kru is a prayer to show respect to teachers that is integral to the Thai healing arts for students, practitioners, and teachers.

The Wai Kru is an essential ritual among practitioners of Traditional Thai Medicine. Maintaining an attitude of respect, reverence, compassion, and loving-kindness is crucial to a deep and practical practice in traditional Thai healing arts.

The Thai word Wai means respect, but it also signifies raising your hands in prayer while lowering your head. And the Pali/Sanskrit word Kru means guru. So, the Wai Kru is a prayer to show respect to teachers.

The Wai Kru, which opens with the words Om Namo Shivago, pays homage to Shivago and the unbroken lineage of masters who have kept the tradition alive. The devotee makes prayers and offerings (usually incense) at an altar, keeping their back on it even after the ceremony. Schools and massage facilities throughout the land practice the Wai Kru daily.

In Thailand

The Wai Kru isn’t unique to Thai massage practitioners. People perform the Wai Kru ceremonies throughout Thailand specific to their jobs and ways of life. They perform it to thank the Buddha, their parents and their teachers.

Performing a Wai Kru is an integral part of the practice for students, practitioners, and teachers of Thai healing arts. It reinforces the practice of Thai massage through humility, reflection and gratitude. It helps calm the body and mind; it establishes a respectful, humble atmosphere to live and work.

The Wai Kru in Thai massage shows respect to Jivaka Khumarabhaccha, the Ayurvedic doctor who knew and treated the Buddha. For this reason, people in Thailand consider him the spirit guide of Traditional Thai medicine.


A practitioner may recite the Wai Kru in a group setting or privately, and they can recite it aloud or silently. The prayer is considered most effective before starting a day’s work. A practitioner can add it to meditation, yoga, or other spiritual and physical practices. A practitioner may practice the Wai Kru daily, but they should not recite it aloud in the presence of someone about to receive a Thai massage.

Practitioners in Thailand perform the Wai Kru before an altar containing images or statues of the Buddha, Jivaka, and sometimes other deities or respected ones such as a reusi, a monk, or a revered person. Photos or mementos of deceased parents and teachers usually include candles, incense, food, water, and flowers on an altar.

Traditionally, a practitioner performs the Wai Kru while kneeling with their feet behind the body. The practitioner bows three times before reciting prayers and three times afterward. If the practitioner lights candles during the ceremony, they extinguish them with fingers or a candle snuffer. Blowing out a candle with the breath is believed to disperse the prayers and offerings.

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