This manual is free to use, copy, distribute, share, critique, and enjoy! It is absolutely free. These techniques are part of a rich cultural heritage and I’m honored to help spread them. All I ask is that if you intend to use the manual in a workshop that you please let me know! Otherwise do share, practice, invent, and improvise!
I came to Thai massage through yoga. I had been helping to manage a yoga studio in Birmingham and teaching several classes of Ashtanga yoga a week. Ashtanga is a pretty serious physical practice if you aren’t familiar with it, and its primarily transmitted through adjustments. That was my favorite part, adjusting people. I like to help people find their position in space and bring awareness to their posture through gentle touch, moving with them and their breath to help them achieve depth in a pose. My primary teacher at the time, accomplished yogi, massage therapist, and now Rolfer, Brent Scrivener, invited me to join him in a four day thai training with Shai Plonski at Embody Practice Studio. The class was centered around quality of touch and Brent believed I would come out of the class a better yoga instructor. What he didn’t know was I would find my passion and what I believe is my highest purpose.
Within a month of the class I had completed thirty, 90 minute Thai massages on my friends and students. Within two months I had purchased a plane ticket for January 1st, 2014 with a return flight 3 months later, enrolled in the most highly accredited Thai massage school in Thailand, ITM international, and started selling everything that wasn’t bolted down to cover my cost of living. Furniture, sold. Stereo equipment, sold. Tractor, sold. I decided to add on- a four month intense program of study at the Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy. With this plan of action set, I was on rails to reach my licensing requirements.
I finished my travels and studies, stunned, awed, and a different person than I was when I left. Also I was flat broke, a not uncommon symptom of international travel. Just in time I received an email from my friend Adam at Gray Bear Lodge, a rustic retreat center tucked into the woods of middle Tennessee. He invited me to hang out for a weekend and get feedback from him on my bodywork. We had met in 2013 when my parents brought me to Gray Bear with them on retreat. When Diann, Adam’s partner and resident Diva-goddess-shaman, saw me she exclaimed brightly that I looked like I belonged there and greeted me a big ,warm, hug. I immediately felt at home and within minutes of arrival I was asleep in a hammock. That weekend the weather was perfect, the forest gentle, beautiful, and full of synchronicity. Gray Bear was and is a truly magical place to experience.
Adam and Diann appreciated the quality of my work and as luck would have it one of their therapists had come down with an illness. They set me up in a cozy little space affectionately known as The Rainbow Room and put me to work. At the end of the weekend I was invited back for the next retreat, and the next, and soon I was dedicating myself to every retreat that was offered.
Lately I’ve been focused on building my practice in Birmingham. I’m grateful everyday to get to do what I love for people I care about while making a living that supports my family. Thank you all that make it possible: my excellent teachers here and abroad, my family at Gray Bear, my mom and dad who have constantly encouraged me to do what I love, my beautiful wife and son who give my life shape and purpose, and the many people that trust me to care for them on the mat.