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by David Osborn, MH, L.Ac
Thursday, March 1, 2018

My Introduction to David Wells and Thai Yoga

David-WellsI was first introduced to David Wells and Reusi Dat Ton, or Thai Yoga, when I attended an evening seminar that David hosted on the subject at the Oh Happy Days Natural Food Store in Altadena, California.  The presentation was interesting, lively, and beautified with a magnificent slide show of Thai artwork that David had amassed from his years in Thailand.  But this wasn’t just any traditional Thai art; David was showing slides of artwork depicting Thai hermits practicing the techniques and poses of Thai Yoga, which he called Reusi Dat Ton.  The Thai name for their traditional yoga system means something like “The Self-Stretching Exercises of Sages”, since the Thai word “Reusi” is related to the Sanskrit word, “Rishi”, denoting a hermit or sage.  David told us that he had studied Reusi Dat Ton with traditional masters of this yoga when he was stationed with the Peace Corps in Thailand.  I had a nice chat with him after his art show and presentation, and learned that, like me, he had also studied Ayurveda, but not at the Ayurvedic Institute like I did, but rather at the California College of Ayurveda in Grass Valley.  Thai Yoga was the yoga and healing system that gave birth to Thai Massage, which is now enjoying great popularity due to its combination of yoga stretches with massage techniques.

David Wells later let me sit in on a Thai Yoga workshop that he was giving at a yoga studio in nearby Sierra Madre.  In the class, he led the students through a series of stretching and self massage exercises designed to soften, flex and reduce tension, stiffness and pain in every joint in the body.  It was amazing how he worked all the major joints, from head to toe, in a rigorous and systematic manner, and after going through this routine, all the students felt a whole lot better, including myself.  Although you can pay a practitioner of Thai Massage a considerable sum of money to have them stretch and massage your joints for you, it’s nice to know that its parent healing art, Reusi Dat Ton, has devised a system that allows you to do this valuable stretching and massage therapy on yourself.  In recognition of Reusi Dat Ton’s great value to patients and clients in helping them to reduce chronic joint pain and stiffness, David now works at a treatment center for chronic pain in upstate New York.

Thai Yoga and Traditional Thai Medicine

When I was living in Tucson, Arizona, I had a Medical Astrology client who had been one of David Wells’ Reusi Dat Ton students.  She had also studied Traditional Thai Medicine with a master teacher of that traditional healing art.  Interested to learn more, I set up a meeting with her in a nearby coffee shop, and she proceeded to explain the basics of Traditional Thai Medicine to me.  It turned out that Traditional Thai Medicine has points in common with Greek Medicine, as it seeks to balance the Four Elements in the body, and the Four Elements of Thai Medicine just happen to be the same ones as those of Greek Medicine: Fire, Air, Earth and Water.  She told me that, if her teacher wanted to get a deeper perspective on certain persistent health conditions or imbalances that weren’t so clear in one of his patients, he would consult the patient’s natal astrology chart to get a look at the deeper roots of the problem.  I was interested to know that Medical Astrology is also used in Traditional Thai Medicine, an eastern healing system that is far removed, geographically and culturally, from Greek Medicine.

David Wells, in the introductory pages of his new e-book on Reusi Dat Ton, states that the ancient Reusis or Rishis who created Thai Yoga were also the custodians of other branches of secret traditional knowledge and lore in diverse fields, such as medicine, music, alchemy, astrology, and much more.  He also has a diagram of a Tree of Yoga, showing how Thai Yoga is related to the original Hatha Yoga of India, as well as to Tibetan Yoga and other forms of yoga.  Although traditional Thai arts and sciences, including medicine and healing, flourished in the medieval era, Traditional Thai Medicine, including Reusi Dat Ton, was almost snuffed out on two occasions.  The first was in the eighteenth century, when invading Burmese forces destroyed Thailand’s old capitol in 1767, and along with it, many priceless old documents and treatises on medicine.  The Kings of Thailand then patronized Traditional Thai Medicine, working diligently to restore the corpus of old medical literature and to promote the healing art.  The priceless medical documents, as well as statues of the Reusis executing the poses of Thai Yoga, are now on display at the Wat Po temple in Bangkok.

The second time that Traditional Thai Medicine was almost vanquished was in the early twentieth  century, when it fell out of favor due to the importation of modern Western Medicine.  It even lost its patronage from the royal house of Thailand.  The modern revival of Traditional Thai Medicine began around 1978 in response to the United Nations’ World Health Organization’s call for the strengthening and revival of traditional healing and herbal medicine practices in member nations around the world, and the incorporation of such indigenous traditional healing practices and modalities into the primary healthcare program.  Now, there are schools of Traditional Thai Medicine that are flourishing in Thailand.  But traditional healing and herbal medicine never fell out of favor in the rural areas of Thailand, where a strong system of folk medicine and herbal healing persists to this very day.  Thailand enjoys a tropical climate that is warm the whole year round, so why not go off to Thailand to study Thai Massage, Thai Yoga or Traditional Thai Medicine?


Links and Internet Resources

Anyone who wants to connect with David Wells personally and find out where and when he is teaching his classes and workshops on Reusi Dat Ton is invited to go to his website:      

Anyone who is interested in David Wells’ introductory manual on the self massage techniques of Reusi Dat Ton is also invited to go to the page for that e-book on, whose link is below:

Self Massage and Joint Mobilization of Traditional Thai Yoga: Reusi Dat Ton Part 1 Handbook (Volume 1)

The web pages that I used as information sources on Traditional Thai Medicine in the preparation of this article are as follows:

The Integration of Thai Traditional Medicine in the National Health Care System of Thailand



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