Discovering Tibetan Medicine and the KuNye massage

Surreal, magical, unexpected? I´m not sure how to define my first contact with Tibetan medicine and the KuNye massage…But it definitely was a unique experience that I want to share with all of you!

The Tibetan Doctor

It was seven in the morning in Dharamsala (“Little Lhasa” in India), and I was heading towards the consultation of a Tibetan doctor. After bumping into dogs, monkeys and cows and trying to avoid stepping on the patched-up piping on the streets, I arrived at a half-open door with a sign saying “Tibetan Doctor”. The building was eaten away by humidity and the passing of the years, but its location at the border of a cliff offered spectacular views of the Himalayas. Out from the candlelit room emerged the Doctor, who had a serious face but a friendly appearance.

The Doctor didn´t beat around the bush and started by asking me to take off my shoes, undress and to sit on the stretcher. He took my arms and felt my pulse with both hands, to my curiosity, using almost all of his fingers. Then, in very poor English he asked me to open my mouth and stick my tongue out and observed me for a few seconds. Next, he pointed towards the bottle containing the morning´s first urine that I had brought with me. He poured it in a white cup and stired it with a stick, smelled it, observed it by the only light bulb in the room, and threw it in the drain. After he finnished what I later learned was the diagnostic process used in Tibetan medicine, the shortest hour and a half in my entire life was about to begin, with my first session of the KuNye massage…


Dazed by the KuNye massage

Being a physical therapist dedicated to researching, studying and writing about traditional and holistic medicines and massage techniques, my aim with this session was to absorb and analyze everything I possibly could for future studies. Nevertheless, just a few minutes after the start of the KuNye massage session my body and mind gave up, surrendering completely to the hands of the Doctor.

I noticed that he placed warm bags on different points of my body. They gave off a wonderfully sweet and soft scent that reminded me of the typical Kashmiri tea that is mixed with spices. Suddenly I was surrounded by the penetrating sound of Tibetan Singing bowls that entered not only through my ears but through each and every pore of my body. It was a strange yet relaxing feeling that had a profound effect on me. I had heard so much about the Singing bowls and had even bought a few of them during one of my trips to India, but I had never seen or felt the coherent and professional use of them until this moment. This experience really prompted me to study further about vibrational therapies, but that´s a subject for another article…

Returning to the KuNye massage, unfortunately I can´t describe my first session in much detail as the herbal balls, the sound of the singing bowls, and the touch of the Doctor, transported me to a different universe, to a semi-conscious state. All I can remember is that the Doctor kept placing herbal bags, bathed in warm oil, on different parts of my trunk, arms, legs, and feet, and that his hands worked consistently, treating both my physical and energetical state.

Once the massage session ended I took farewell of the Doctor and left in a daze, unable to speak a word, floating in the clouds…Not even dogs, monkeys, cows, cars nor motorbikes could distract me or wake me up from this blissful state for hours. I had completely failed in my ambition to analyze the KuNye massage as a technique, but I had discovered a whole new world, and there was no way going back now.

 Eager to study KuNye massage and Tibetan Medicine

After this experience, I dedicated the next four years to the study of the KuNye massage and published a book about it in 2012, that was presented in the New York book fair as being the first book written about this particular massage technique. The book´s prologue was written by the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his personal doctor, the Director of the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute Men-Tsee-Khang, an unprecedented honor until this day.

Now we have improved this material and added a lot of videos, interviews, master´s classes, etc in order to be able to provide everyone, regardless of their location, the possibility to study this wonderful technique from their home, in our Tibetan KuNye massage online course.

I hope you enjoyed this post! More to come soon…

Wishing you a meaningful day,


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6 thoughts on “Discovering Tibetan Medicine and the KuNye massage”

  1. Hi César,
    I´m a Thai massage therapist and found your blog super interesting. Thanks for sharing all of this! I actually ran into your blog because I´ll be next year in Dharamsala and wanted to learn Tibetan massage. I´ve read about dr. Dhondup and I would like to ask you if you have any other recommendations, maybe the person you studied with? I would really appreciate your comments. Thank you very much!

    1. César Tejedor

      Dear Sharon,
      Thank you for your kind words, it is always great to know that people like and follow our blog. Yes, I will be happy helping you to find a good Tibetan teacher in Dharamsala, as I know in my personal experience that it is not an easy task (it took me 4 years until I convinced my now good friend and master to teach me).
      Dharamsala, and specially Mcleod Ganj, it is full of fake masters who teach Ku-Nye massage without knowing anything about this wonderfull tradition. Actually, it is very difficult to find a real teacher, as there are not too many Tibetan doctors who practice this massage (AND who speak English) and the few that there are, are very busy and travel all around the world for conferences and teachings. But do not worry, once that you have the dates in mind, I will help you to find a doctor who could give you private classes if you go by yourself or in a group if you go with more people. Just let me know with 2 months in advance and I will put you in contact with the one who will be avaliable at that time.
      Mr. Lobsang is a good massage therapist, but he is not a Tibetan doctor and does not know the theoretic basis of Tibetan medicine. In any case he is not in Dharamsala since 2010, and now his daughter is the one who is teaching Ku-Nye. In my personal opinion it is better to learn from a qualified doctor, as they know how to teach you the practice but also the theory. Tibetan massage is not a practice that you can apply independently by itself, as it is very much integrated with the Tibetan medicine Sowa Rigpa, so that is why you will need more time to learn it, as you need to understand first the tibetan medicine in order to understand how to apply the Ku-Nye massage. That is why I highly recommend you to read and learn as much as you can also before you go there.
      We are creating an online course with all the theory and practice of this massage, step-by-step videos of the practice, including interviews and master classes with some of the most famous Tibetan doctors in the world (I will try to get one of them to teach you!). That is why we spent so many months in Dharamsala, just to finish all the contents and videos. The course will be ready this September and it will help you to understand the technique from the roots in order to prepair yourself before your trip to Dharamsala. I recommend our course because I know the quality of the contents, but I am sure that you can find many other courses and books out there. Let me know your plans and doubts, I will be very happy to help you. Regards from Thailand!!! César T.

  2. Thank you for an interesting article. Would you give please more information about KuNye massage studies.

    Happy Holidays,

    1. Dear Aldona,
      Thank you for your feedback, nice to hear that you enjoyed our article! Our Tibetan KuNye massage course will be available online in just a few weeks, in January 2015! You can see more detailed information about the course by clicking here. I will notify you right away once the course is available!In our course you will learn to the perform the complete KuNye massage, as well as understand its foundations that derive from Traditional Tibetan Medicine. It´s truly an amazing and unique treatment that is very holistic in nature. In case you have any further queries please don´t hesitate to contact us: All the best, Camilla

  3. Hi César.
    Great blog! Thank you for being an inspiration.
    I’m planning to go to Dharamasala in April and have been looking into doing a Tibetan massage course but I’m wary of some of the people teaching not being the real deal!
    Any help or advice you can give with regards to a teacher would be wonderful.
    I would like to do the online course alongside the practice in Dharamasala.
    Many thanks and blessings!

    1. César Tejedor

      Hi Siobhan! Thank you so much for your kind words, and great to hear that you will travel to Dharamsala soon! It´s a magical place when you get to know it! As you might know already, the Tibetan KuNye massage is not just a simple massage, it is a form of therapy that derives from traditional Tibetan medicine, and it has a rich theory foundation. Because of its complexity, I would definitely recommend you to study our online course on Tibetan KuNye massage before you go, and even read some books and other materials. This way you would learn the theory beforehand (basic concepts of Tibetan medicine, the bodily constitutions, etc., and how to apply this to the massage), and be able to focus on the practice of the massage once you are there. If you go there with the theory base, you will be able to invest your time more effectively once you are there. When you have studied the basics online, let me know the dates you will be going there, and I can put you in contact with some of the best Tibetan doctors specialized in Tibetan massage, from the University of HH the Dalai Lama, to see if he could give you some master classes. I hope this was useful! Have a wonderful day ahead, best regards, César Tejedor.

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