Thai massage is deeper

Thai massage is relatively new to central Texas. I continue to promote the work and educate bodyworkers and the public as to the differences. I’ve worked for ten years and if you give me an option Thai massage is what I’ll get nearly every time I work with a therapist. When students ask me why I started teaching I tell them I need someone to work on me.

The depth that I need to access, the muscular insertions and alignment needed are easily provided with this bodywork. Fortunately for therapists it’s also easier on our hands and bodies.

Swedish and deep tissue massage are the most common forms of bodywork performed in the U.S. American schools have pushed massage and bodywork regulation that’s having most states license massage and this is the primary bodywork taught in most schools.

Swedish of course is originally from Sweden and is generally long flowing strokes over muscles and skin using creme or lotion. This flowing motion not only relaxes muscle but improves vascular flow of blood and lymph in particular.

Deep tissue is a western anatomically based focus on particular muscles or groups of muscles. This is usually done after some Swedish work to open up an area. The superficial muscles are relaxed to allow the therapist in so to speak. Then using fingers, elbows, forearms or knuckles the therapist sinks into the tissues to relax and flush specific muscles that are tight.

Both of these kinds of bodywork are effective and there’s a reason they’ve become nearly ubiquitous. As I once heard someone say, “You can’t sling a dead cat in Austin without hitting a massage therapist.” Yep. Most of those massage therapists are doing swedish and deep tissue.

So how does Thai massage fit in?

In my professional opinion Thai massage is deeper than deep tissue. It does not use cream, you’re not undressed but Thai massage can access musculature that most deep tissue therapists overlook in my experience. Thai massage doesn’t cancel out this other work, I use it myself daily depending on a client’s needs but Thai massage differs in a very specific way. It honors movement.

When I lift someone’s arm and rotate their torso I’m getting their trapezius and rhomboids to lengthen. Even without pressure what I’ve done is taken the muscles and lengthened them all the way down into their insertion and origin. Tendon is what connects muscle to bone and in Thai we work down to it easily while saving my hands.

Thai massage in this way allows me to use my body more efficiently and accesses that deep spot the client wants worked on. Once you figure out the pattern and unwind it you feel like you’ve done a great job and the clients respond very well to the practice. I’ve had clients tell me repeatedly that they can’t believe they wasted their time and money on those “other” massages.

Like deep tissue? You’ll probably love Thai massage. Leave your clothes on and your preconceived notions at the door.

See you soon for Thai massage in Austin, Texas.

Is suffering genetic?

In looking at what I do for work and how I approach healing I find myself at odds with the status quo. Over time I just step aside, I certainly hold less resentment and anger but my compassion grows by leaps and bounds. As a friend and I had a discussion about our mutual love for healing work we admitted to each other that we’re good at what we do because we’ve been broken. A healer is good at working on something they themselves have overcome. In blues terms, “you gotta pay your dues to play the blues.”

My strong empathic sense of people, their emotions and mental states leaves me in places where I remind myself that client’s stuff is theirs. I need not take on their emotions, feelings and mental states to aid their healing process. The more I heal the more empathy and compassion I have for those who suffer. Some suffering is what life places on the doorstep but most comes from ignorance. Ignorance causes more suffering than anything else. It’s not what others do to us, it’s what we do to ourselves.

It’s one thing if someone tells us we’re fat as a kid, teases us. It’s another when you somehow take that on as a part of your sense of self, “I’m fat” you tell yourself. That person may have teased you once but you carry that burden with you, inflicting it on yourself 100’s of times beyond what that one person said. If you remove your part in the game, it’s just someone who made a mean comment. All that pain, all that suffering, vanquished. The veil of ignorance is removed.

Things happen. I’m not immune to suffering on the mental, psychological or physical plane. I no longer wish to believe that this is simply the best I deserve. What if instead of believing I’m a dumb, incompetent, worthless, fat, lowly massage therapist I begin the process of changing those beliefs? What if I slowly work on myself until I decide on a heart level that I’m a worthwhile, strong, inquisitive, upright man who’s capable of anything he sets his mind to? I’m taking the latter road. If I seem confusing this may be why. My path is other that what the predominant culture provides.

A long term friend passed recently and while looking at her glowing beautiful daughter I told my friend, “that baby is the winner of 6 billion years of evolution.” This young girl is the biological product of intelligence refining the same stuff that stars are made of to produce life, human beings and a central nervous system. This child can look up at the stars and one day ponder that the universe is hers from her vantage point in the milky way galaxy.

Once the Dalai Lama had to stop a talk and discussion because he didn’t know an English word that was used. He said, “Self esteem? What is this self esteem you mention?” After someone explained to him what it meant, he grasped the chasm between his culture and our own. In what I believe was a compassionate moment he said, “We do not have this word in our language. We believe everyone has Buddha nature. We’ve no need to convince people that they have worth because we teach them that the highest potential is already within them, the potential for enlightenment.”

You think your pain, your suffering is fate, is genetic? You think you are encased in genetic code, dna? To a point this is true, you do hold a physical form. I also listen to teachers, tricksters and holy men who tell me you are not your thoughts. You are not your body. You are not what you think you are. Meditate and ask “who am I?” Who am I without my skin? Without my bones? Without a body? Without a mind? If you continue to peel away the layers what is left?

This process of awakening is something I’ve only scratched the surface of. My compassion turns toward myself, my own pain, my own suffering and forgiving myself for my shortcomings. I implore you to quit finding yourself to be garbage underfoot and realize that you are the sunshine that dispels the darkness. You are the crack that can let all of the light in. God can be seen through you, through your actions and through loving your neighbor as yourself.

Suffering is no more encoded in genetics than enlightenment is. The choice is yours.

“All this pain is an illusion.”~Parabol by Tool

Headstand pt.4

In this last installment on headstand we discuss the effect of the pose on cranial sutures and the cranial bones, specifically as regards their movement. This information is heavily informed from my study of cranialsacral therapy. If you’re interested in cranialsacral therapy I highly recommend The Heart of Listening by Hugh Milne.

If you ever feel an imbalance in the head or cranial bones while in headstand come out. Better safe than sorry. The pose should feel good, even on your head.

Compost happens

Our lawnmower has been finicky and I’ve used a drill, plyers, turning it to get the air bubble out of the way, taking the top off and trying to repair the spring to crank and taking the crank casing off and wrapping a cord manually to get it to run. This has all been with limited success. I’m good at preparing a meal, good with back pain and yoga/bodywork but when it comes to small engine repair, I’m still learning.

Patience in this area doesn’t come easy for me and the second day after another section of the yard was mowed I knew it was time to rest. I pulled the lanwmower aside, considered my job well done and while chatting with my friend who’s in town, grabbed the pitchfork, wheelbarrow and bags of leaf mold. Time to mulch the garden beds.

The onions need a heavy mulching as they sit in the ground and the bed is round making it more difficult to get to the center. I pulled up a bag or two of leaves that are riddled with holes and earthworms were eating through the leaves and organic matter. Into the wheelbarrow they went, an old bale of hay tossed on top and away we go.

Last summer was rough, I almost wanted to give up gardening. My redworms died in the heat and I decided to let the garden sit fallow. No use in struggle or fight, nature will do what it does.

This spring the garden is extremely productive. Sugar snap peas, radishes, mustard and turnip greens and swiss chard are all plentiful with more things planted and coming along. Heat will be here before long but I’ve learned not to fight, just go with. By that time most of the garden will be southern peas, yard long beans, okra and malabar spinach. No use in struggle.

Planning, preparation and building soil takes time. I’ve harvested leaves, made compost, hauled wood mulch and keep working on things season after season. Over time you see the soil fertility build, seeds sprout more easily and plants grow stronger and faster. All that from a suburban lot that used to be just grass.

Plant seeds where your bliss lay and watch them grow.

Remember: compost happens.

Headstand pt.3

Respiration is influenced in very interesting ways in headstand. Since we’ve shifted the effect of gravity upon the body by turning upside down, we’ve done the same to our breathing. Right side up the diaphragm pushes the abdominal organs down and flattens out from it’s bowl shape to open the base of the rib cage. This vacuum helps pull air into the lungs. Upside down however the abdominal organs are now putting pressure on the diaphragm and the muscle has to work against gravity to lift the abdominal organs. Essentially, you’re making it workout.

The exhale in headstand is smooth, easy and not forced. As you relax the diaphragm releases and air smoothly flows out of the lungs as the abdominal organs press down helping force air out of the lungs. Combined with the usual ujjayi breathing that’s common in yoga you have a one two punch that strengthens, tones and refines the musculature of breathing. After years of practice, even when at rest, a yogi’s breathing is still full and strong from strengthening these areas.

Headstand also allows freedom to the legs and spine to move in many directions. Your hips are now free to move within whatever range of motion feels good. Upside down isn’t so bad.

I always say headstand is a yogic cup of coffee. I feel calm, alert, energized and focused after doing the pose.


Andrea encouraged me to obtain a blender so we could start having smoothies for breakfast. Years ago at a health food store in La I remember making smoothies and not being very impressed but when Andrea asks I try to push my edges. Little did I know I’d start the next month off having one for breakfast every morning and actually enjoying them.

I’ll provide a basic recipe but keep in mind that it’s versatile and you can play with ratios and ingredients depending on what’s available.

Basic recipe for 2 people, about 2 16 oz. glasses:
2 ripe bananas
2 cups pineapple juice
1 cup pomegranata juice
2 scoops whey protein powder
3 tbsp nutritional yeast (B vitamins)
1/2-2/3 cup frozen blueberries
handful of greens (we use whatever we get from @JBGorganic or pick from the garden)
4 tbsp ground flax seeds (I use a spice grinder to process them)

That is the basic smoothie I’ve been making. Additional options and ingredients are nearly infinite. We’ve also used black cherry juice, frozen fruit like strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, mango juice, coconut milk and every green imaginable. Swiss chard and spinach seem to be the most popular.

In the future we hope to buy matcha green tea in bulk and add that to smoothies to enrich it’s antioxidant content. So what about you, what do you like in your smoothies?

Headstand pt.2

Inversions bathe the endocrine organs (pituitary gland, thyroid and parathyroid) in blood meaning they are allowed to do what they’re supposed to do. Cleansing and repair happen and proper function returns or is maintained. The increased blood flow to the head includes the brain, the part of the body that uses the greatest blood supply. The morning wake up I do with headstands pushes blood up then down my body repeatedly as I shift my space in gravity.

Reading Anatomy of Hatha Yoga I was surprised to find out he listed two different versions of headstand, one at bregma, another at the crown. Exploring the pose over time I became aware that my skull wasn’t completely level and my neck was certainly not in proper alignment. I’d been told that headstand is a bad idea for someone with my specific injury, a whiplash. I wondered why the pose made me feel better and decided to listen to my body as opposed to stop doing a pose I liked.

I realized over time that headstand gave me space to correct cervical spine issues from the top down. By shifting my head slightly in various directions I had resistance to push into the muscles around my neck, connecting into the base of my skull and into my upper back. I could essentially work in three dimensions and now upside down to reverse any structrual torsion or shift that’d taken place over time. Long story short, not only was headstand good but I could work on my long term alignment in some tricky areas.