Sigmund Freud is quoted as saying that, “only two things heal, love and work.” I’ve spent ten years pondering healing and what it means to us as a species. It comes in many forms and one thing I’m certain of is that much like life itself it continues to shift and change. What was once healing, isn’t as beneficial as it once was. Attachment to particular outcomes leads to much suffering.

Over time as business grows I feel marketing, networking, logistics, schedules and adult responsibility creeping in and I try to remember why I became interested in my work to begin with. I wanted to help others as I’d been helping myself. That continues but it’s good to sit, breathe and remember our core as we venture off into the sunset on another adventure. What is the goal?

At my core I want to be whole. I want time with my loved ones. I want to be able to eat homemade pesto with some salami on a warm summer night and relish the small gifts life has allowed. I never want to be so lost in marketing and money that I lose sight of why I started doing what I do to begin with. Finances never even factored. I had to heal. I’ve come a long way, helped many people and long after I’m gone people will remember me as a healing force in their lives. Flawed but always with good intentions.

You heal as quickly as you allow yourself to let go of disease, discomfort and old beliefs. Why grasp? Let go.

What is Thai massage

When teaching Thai massage the most common question I get is, “What is Thai massage?” When I’m asked that all I can think is you’ve been getting substandard table massage. I’m biased but ten years experience makes me believe it’s still the best bodywork on planet earth.

Thai massage is 2,500 years old and said to have been invented by the Buddha’s doctor. It’s a healing art so deep that much like yoga I doubt I’ll ever exhaust the potential contained within. Not only do I believe Thai bodywork can help alleviate or lessen common medical conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, arthritis and chronic pain but I also believe it can lift your spirits. If you’re not spiritual, no worries there’s no mumbo jumbo speak going on. I know what I know. When you integrate your body, next comes your mind and spirit.

This short video is a sampler from my Introduction to Thai massage class. Thai massage is massage but it’s bodywork. Thai massage is larger than any label you give it. It’s done on a mat on the floor traditionally and I’ve spent ten years scouring the planet to find the best and this in my not so humble opinion is it folks. If you know of something else, let me know, I’ll be learning that soon.

A new client had a Thai session with me recently and just kept saying, “awesome.” She further commented that she felt this was the best bodywork she’d ever had and couldn’t imagine that she’s lived this long and not received it. That is why I decided to teach. This work is too good to keep a secret.

Class is this Friday, see you then.

Special thanks to Patrick Marron, Katie Krieger, Audra Schimek, Bret Rogers and Allen Hudson seen in this video.

Thai massage upper back

I spend more time working on upper back problems than anything else. The junction between the upper back and cervical spine is one of the most dysfunctional areas of the body and the stresses and strain of driving and working at computers will keep me busy with clients for years to come. Fortunately these issues are easy to address once you know what you’re working on.

The paraspinal musculature that runs along the spine is often over stretched like a bow string or tight as it’s pulled along the lamina groove. Pressing into these muscles feels good to clients and slowly helps restore normal undulation and movement to the serpentine structure of the normal human spine. Backbending and scapula retraction also make a huge difference long term.

Rememer to take it easy on your thumbs as you work on someone. Rome wasn’t built in a day nor were good spines. Honor your own body and joints. Use muscle and body weight and don’t overtax the joints in the small structures of your hands. Leverage and adequate use of body weight are what allows Thai massage to be so effective. Move and bring the client along with you.

Try this on friends and family, they’ll thank you.

Cranialsacral therapy pt.3

I tried to promote my doing cranial work in Baton Rouge years ago and remember my first ad was for it. It was the high art but I was determined. I saw a client here and there, one spa I worked at even added it to their menu.

The first client I worked with was a deep sea diver. He welded underwater in some crazy suit and was having headaches that turned into migraines. His girlfriend encouraged him to come in and in the 30 minutes I was given I walked in, put my hands on his feet and coned in. That is to say I breathed, relaxed and slowly tuned into what was going on. Two minutes in the guy said, “Hey Doc! The problems with my head.”

I laughed and realized this was going to be a long road. He didn’t know what I was feeling for, what I was doing and barely did I. Listening to his feet didn’t seem to him to be a treatment for head pain. I felt his head and could tell the temporals were involved. They didn’t move together so well, felt lopsided and the right side panned more slowly than the other. I only saw him that once and he saw no major improvement but I’d at least begun to work on people.

Months later a fellow massage therapist referred a woman to me for cranialsacral therapy specifically. I met her in the office, spoke with her and we began. I don’t recall what her complaint was, but I started at her feet and then moved to her sacrum. Placing one hand underneath her and one on top above her pubic bone, I settled in. 20 mintues later it felt like I’d come to. I’d tranced out, continued feeling the ebb and flow of her sacrum. In a space of calm and quiet I heard “it’s not right.”

My eyebrows lightly wrinkled and I listened, relaxed to hear the same phrase repeated. “It’s not right.” I didn’t resist, just let whatever it was through but after a few more minutes I felt I’d done whatever was needed here. I slid away my top hand, looked up opening my eyes and the client turned to look at me and let out the saddest, “Awww” in memory.

In a flash, I knew what was wrong. I knew what had happened. She’d been raped. I remained calm, finished the session and never said anything to her. You see, I wasn’t looking for that, wasn’t prepared to see it and certainly wasn’t prepared to talk to a client about something they hadn’t really told me. The flash left no doubt. Her response of “aww” felt like she finally found someone who could touch her in a healing way, to start the process of looking at what had happened.

None of my schooling, before or since has prepared me for these sorts of things. It’s come up again from time to time and intially I was scared. What if this thing turned on and I can’t turn it off? I don’t want to walk into the grocery store and feel this stuff. Over time I’ve relaxed, my yoga and meditation practice has grown and I’ve less fear of being me, even if that me starts to seem highly odd. I can only do what I do.

I pick up things from clients occasionally but it mainly passes through. I’m older, wiser and more secure. I’ve learned to settle in and not much surprises me. Well, not much except that the practice deepens and the harder you focus…the more you see.

Thai massage forward

Forward bends are calming. In yoga classes I always notice their soothing nature as they allow your spine to roll towards a fetal position. Long term many people take on this rolled forward position and form a slouch, primarily in their upper back that I spend time trying to help clients with. Ideally your spine moves within a full range of motion and your soft tissues support good posture throughout your day.

Backbends are the healers of the spine for many reasons but I’d never trade them in for simple forward bends. This seated forward bend you do in Thai massage is done at the end of a session when your client is seated and you’re feeling open, free, unencumbered.

Creating length on the spine is good for the long term health of the vertebrae and posture. Long term it takes pressure off of the discs, prevents herniation, bulges and the like. In yoga you’re working in standing forward bends in turning the whole spine upside down and tractioning it. Usually this is stopped by intolerably tight hamstrings and one should be conscious to stretch the hamstrings and take pressure off of the low back. This is done by gently bending the knees and allowing the torso to rest on the thighs.

Starvation Mentality

One concept has come up again and again over the years in relation to healing work and marketing. Just like any business advertising plays its role in yoga and bodywork. You’re trying to let people know what it is that you do and draw them in. In no way however do I wish to be a used car salesman. There is no real pitch and certainly nothing I deem as soul crushing as a gimmick.

I give away what I do, you just pay to pick some of it up. Whether in a yoga class or learning Thai massage I don’t interact with my work and business in a way to protect what I do from others learning it. I want you to learn what I know, I want you to know how to do the things I do and help others whether or not I get a profit financially.

In jazz circles I’ve heard stories that long ago trumpet players would hang a handkerchief over their playing hand while playing so that other trumpeters couldn’t see how they were pressing the keys in a certain way to attain certain sounds. They were protecting their market. Even Robert Johnson is said to have tuned his guitar turned away from the crowd so that others couldn’t see how he set things up before playing blues.

I don’t do this in my practice. As I recently heard on the show Treme, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” All I do is transparent. I’ve no desire to hide behind walls, regulations and red tape protecting the knowledge that I have.

In teaching Thai massage this provides a particular case we can examine to see why. In our area there aren’t many practitioners of Thai massage. I could resist teaching, continue working with clients and build clientele and never teach. It depends on what goals we have for our healing work and business. Eventually I’d have many clients, work on them and that would be that.

Thing is, my goal is to help people heal. Because my end goal isn’t just making money it changes the way I choose to interact with clients and students. If I teach Thai massage do I cripple my market? No. In no way shape or form do I hurt my market. Massage therapists aren’t competeing regardless of what anyone else says. Let’s say maybe 5% of the total populace gets a massage semi-regularly. Are massage therapists competing to get some of that 5%? I’m not, I’m working on trying to communicate with that other 95% who maybe have never even had a massage.

If I teach it has its own benefits. Doing healing work is healing in and of itself. I obtain some financial incentive to teach good classes and have students. I also send out a vast array of personalities, people and healers to work on others. If I can add to what a student knows, helping them invest in their tool box then I’ll be able to increase healing overall for more people. I can only do so many sessions with my own two hands. Let me teach 20 people fully…that’s a huge amount of overall gain not only for my practice but for our community.

When students learn Thai massage from me who will they come to when they want a session? Possibly me, so I’m also adding a possible client down the road. When that student needs more CEU’s at a later date who will they contact? Possibly me. Have I then detracted financial incentive or destroyed my market? Not at all, we’ve created a new one.

In regards to yoga and bodywork, we’re only at the beginning. There are days when the overall crushing burden Americans must feel physically takes it’s toll on me psychically. Why does everyone come in with this same upper back and neck issue? Because they don’t do yoga regularly and they know very little about their bodies structure and function. Once you know, you know. It’s easy to work with and help heal when you know there is a cure. For most people there isn’t, they feel this is just what happens as people age and grow old. Frankly, it’s not, not even close. People do age and change but the amount of burden I’ve seen in 10 years as a massage therapist is almost overwhelming. It’s why my internal response has been to grow and change. Don’t just do massage, teach yoga, don’t just teach yoga teach bodywork, don’t just teach bodywork do yoga therapy. Teach all that is helpful to others. If people do not know, they cannot respond to a situation with that information.

Am I destroying my market? Not at all.

In conversation with my wife I was discussing what would be my ideal situation. Apart from settings like locale, studio and luxury it looked something like this. I have a small private studio. Other than when I see clients or have a yoga class, currently the studio is empty. My preference would be to simply keep the studio open. Students could come and practice as they see fit and I could wander in and out at will. I teach but it’s hanging out, informal. Students just come around because they want to feel better and there is a jar at the door where they can drop donations to support our work. Notice I said our work. Is Ebb and Flow yoga studio mine? No…it’s Ours. You create it just as much as I.

The deep burning and searing goal of my work is to help others heal. Money will come, money will go. I’m not avoiding it or looking down on it, I just feel that if money is my only focus I’d have left this business long ago. You want to be a healer? Take a vow of poverty and help others heal. You want to make money, start a business. I’m in between. There’s no dishonor in that. I need little to live a luxurious lifestyle compared to many around the world.

Students in massage school years ago went and took a class with a teacher. When they returned they refused to tell other students what they had learned because they felt it would give them an advantage over the students who hadn’t taken the class. After all, they had invested the money taking it right? Wouldn’t they be watering down what they’d learned instead of treating it like a precious resource to be held onto exlusively?

In my core I just don’t agree. For all the students I’ll teach Thai massage to, will all of them practice it? No. Many will continue working on the table and use bits and pieces in their work. If I continue gardening will I start a CSA? Well, there’s a whole different level of involvement between having a good garden, harvesting produce and running a business supplying others. Not everyone is going to take my yoga classes and decide to become a yoga teacher. They want to learn yoga not necessarily teach others the same things. The same goes with Thai massage. Even if I taught 100 other therapists in and around Austin that just builds up a small community of people who like Thai yoga and work with it, introducing it to people I’d never have the time or energy to work on myself.

If people want to know what it is that I do they just need to hang out long enough to get some of my work, take some yoga classes and see for themselves. Any advertising is inadequate. I can’t process and pare down ten years of experience into a slogan. Do I feel that teaching and helping people will water down and saturate an already full market? No. The market isn’t even remotely full. Most people don’t get massage. Those that do are getting table massage that’s probably not that different from other kinds of bodywork going around.

Most don’t do yoga. I’m regularly fielding questions from people who ask about its spirituality and connection to Hinduism. What does your spine have to do with Sanskrit? I wholly admit yogas roots but let’s keep in mind that more people in the US do yoga than in its home country of India. That’s right, more people practice yoga in the west than in the east.

Teaching and sharing the knowledge of healing work doesn’t saturate and already full market, it opens up new markets as more people find out what they should be taught from the time they’re children.

Saturating a market? Oh, how I wish. If people had the bodies they could have and the lack of back pain that I dream of I could retire. At its core what I see is starvation mentality. Everyone thinks they have to gorge and eat all they can because the food and prosperity may dry up. I do not and will not subscribe to that idea.

Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 6:26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”

Acro Yoga

Years ago while doing research on Thai massage I discovered something called Acro Yoga. Looking at a few photos I thought, “that’s like Thai massage but the gravity is different.” Like many things I run into online I put it aside, just another fact running through my head.

At some point I was made aware that there was an active Acro Yoga community in the Austin area. I found a group on facebook and joined just to see what was being passed around. Occasionally there were posts about Thai massage and as I continued reading over time things became more clear. I invited some of the community in for a Thai massage class I was having to be bodies, demonstration partners for the class. That my friend is how friends are made.

I’ve kept in touch with one friend in particular through this venture and soon after the class an Austin Thai Massage group formed on facebook. They were particularly interested in what I do and I joined them for an evening. I was immediately asked to lead and taught a little. Relishing their enthusiasm for Thai massage I’ve continued working with them and have become friends with many over time. They ask questions and I give it away, it’s a donation, the only time I’m giving away what I do out of care for the tradition of Thai massage.

Acro Yoga Austin

We had a slumber party retreat this weekend and the attendees do various forms of Acro Yoga and Thai massage through the night and next day. Everyone is friendly, fun and personable. The touch involved in partnered activities forms a close knit group of people I’m growing to care for deeply. This isn’t work, this is healing community. Thanks so much to the community for allowing me to join your ranks. Thanks also to those who came out this weekend.

Acro Yoga Austin back bend

I look forward to delving into Acro Yoga more. The traction that it allows the human spine is amazing. Acro Yoga is Thai massage exponentially more free, we’re changing the gravity and letting your spine grow long. One day maybe I’ll be teaching Acro Yoga and offering therapeutic sessions to clients.

Thai massage twist

I spend large amounts of time performing bodywork no one has ever had before. The longer I work, the more I see it and the more I realize I’m honoring traditions others don’t even know exist. Thai massage may be new to Austin, Texas but it’s 2500 years old. When I perform seated massage people say, “I didn’t know you could massage someone who was sitting.” I then realize, well, I’m doing things differently and from a different cultural context.

Shoulder blades are often stuck on the torso. They become frozen in place, limiting mobility and movement and along with it your angel wings are clipped. Open the shoulder blades, allow them to fall back opening the heart and you can fly away my friends.

This simple twist helps open the scapulae, sounds professional doesn’t it? I even used the plural. 😛 You also get movement to the spine itself to allow flow, undulation and deeper spiraling movement.

Avoid twisting anyone with herniated discs or spine surgeries. It’s not a good idea and you can hurt someone if you’re being forceful. Go slow, communicate with the person you’re working on and help someone feel good today. Opening movement in the spine makes someone feel free, open and receptive. It also goes a long way to helping with recurring back pain and tight muscles along the spine.


The word integrity comes from the Latin, integer, meaning whole. If you lack integrity, I feel you’ve lost the most important thing not only in business but in life. I’ve worked hard over the years to maintain the highest integrity and the few times it’s been questioned I’ve lamented even the notion of its being lost.

Integrity in business is particularly important to me as my business grows. Until recently it’s felt like I was putting compost and water on the plants to get them to grow and was just excited they weren’t dying. Now, I’m looking at a growing tree and thinking, it may be time to prune. Different phases, different focus but a continued focus on healing and healing work.

Revolving door does not work for me. Revolving door clients with the same issues who do not wish to improve don’t interest me. Clients that work on themselves, want to get better and aspire for humanities greatest good, are. Sometimes this confuses people who see me. They expect that immediately after our session I’ll pull out a book and ask when we can schedule them again. I never do that. I may mention that we can schedule again if you wish but this isn’t sales, not in the used car way. There is no pressure and I refuse, due to my integrity, to sell you something I don’t feel you need.

Most can use a once a week session. Sounds great doesn’t it? I’ll never push for that though. Finances are what they are. Most can’t afford work that often. The good news is that if you team up with me I show you how to do lots of it on your own. That way you can get a solid session once every two weeks or once a month and live a primo life. No back pain. Read that again. Can you imagine walking around feeling unencumbered? If I have my way we’ll walk around like we did as children, good posture, hearts full of love and curious minds exploring. That can be yours. I’m working on mine, it’s a process but I’ve had glimpses and it’s worth all the work to get there.

Integrity in a bodywork business means I’m not going to wait until you’re relaxed and try to sell you things while you’re in a stupor. I’m not opposed to retail but the product must be something I use and it must be something I deem necessary, not something sold just because I’d get a percentage. This business is about relationships, not dollar signs. The minute I treat you like a commodity to be bought and sold I’ve lost my humanity. There are enough businesses running on a starvation mentality treating you like a cog in a machine, I refuse to be another.

The integrity I aspire to means that my teacher can come in and get a session and feel that it’s worth every penny. It’s worth what I charge because it’s about healing, helping and assisting. It’s an extension of my life not a lucrative late night scheme with an infomercial. That same integrity is what I would hope would be felt by clients (we can dream can’t we?) like BKS Iyengar, Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama. I want a business that they would look at and say, “I’m glad I helped inspire what you do. Thank you for helping others.”

If I could dig up Bill Hicks I’d hope he’d realize that I understood his messages about marketing and putting dollar signs on everything. Then as he lit up a cigarette post session I could ask him if he’d ever explored pranayama and what it could do for his oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

If my business seems odd, then I’ve done well. It’s Never going to look like other businesses and that’s fine. The American dream is what you make it. My American dream is showing people they can live free, unencumbered lives in one of the most blessed countries on earth. Real health! Real integrity. No limitations.

Cranialsacral therapy pt.2

My feelings about bodywork changed after studying cranialsacral therapy. I took two Upledger courses as they were more easily available than those of Hugh Milne but I knew now, there was more out there. Healing came in many forms and most cultures have their own healing practices that we as westerners can preserve.

I read Milne’s book and knew that this would be a life long practice. There was no end to the depth that you could deal with in helping heal yourself and others. Without being over the top or seeming abstract Milne laid all of the work out in front of me. The therapist who worked on me did most of what was needed in that single session. I had a few more but nothing ever happened like that again. My body rebalanced itself.

As I read Milne’s book I became aware of the fact that cranial bones are not fused. There is a slight give to the sutures and a pulsation of the cerebrospinal fluid inside the dura, a tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. If one develops skill and practices you use it as a sort of diagnostic. You place hands on someone, feel what’s moving and where and knowing anatomy in depth start to discern what may be imbalanced.

It all seems complex but in the end, you’re just listening to someone. When people say, “but cranial bones don’t move, there is no pulsation of cerebrospinal fluid that can be felt” I simply ask if they’ve ever tried, while smiling. This bodywork feels to me much like meditating while your hands are on someone. Over the years I believe my bodywork has gained more depth as I practice. Predominantly it’s due to an active yoga practice which allows me to quiet my own nervous system, from this calm place it’s easier to listen.

The first time I put my hands on someones sacrum and became still, I just sat. I’d never felt this before but I’d never looked either. All of the sudden my hand swayed toward the tailbone. It was such a solid, deep, long swing that I took my hand off in near shock. Is it true? Since then everyone I do it to, feels completely different. One sacrum is full of swing, dance and sway another is creaky like an old door on hinges. Each gives you a little information about people, their bodies and their being.

Predominantly the work seems good for TMJ dysfunction, migraines, chronic headaches, trauma, PTSD, lingering sexual trauma and children with austism. Most people who search for it are at the end of their rope. They’ve tried everything and then boom, it’s the thing that helps. I was in that category.