Keep Going

I spent 6 years in central Texas without ever receiving another Thai massage from a practitioner. I decided to teach because the work wasn’t available anywhere and the community desperately needed it. Along the way things have grown and changed, developed in ways that even I couldn’t have foreseen. Class this weekend in Houston will be the last of the spring and every class has been fun, eventful and fortunately profitable as well.

I’ve gathered critics. I’ll continue to gather more. A trusted friend had a phone conversation with me and what I heard was a complete mirror. His only true feedback was, “keep going.”


There are more classes coming soon. Table Thai classes will start in several months and I’m working on the pain clinic in my home studio again. Stay tuned and if you have not, please subscribe to my email list. You get a free Thai massage workbook and it gives me direct access unlike social media which is increasingly filtering posts and information.

Much more to come. Stay tuned.

<3 Metta

Don’t Teach Thai Massage

Those are the famous words of an MBA student when I spoke with him years ago. As a struggling upstart that consists of a staff of one, I needed business help. A client referred me to someone who said they could chat with me about business to help me figure out how to improve things. When all the cards were out on the table and I explained what I did he said, “Don’t teach Thai massage.” I asked why and he explained that if I taught students they would steal my clients. I sat, pondered, thought and then concluded our meeting. I’ve never taken or heeded his advice. In my own respectful way, I think he’s an idiot.

Currently if I had 40 clients who saw me twice a month at 2 hours a session I’d have 80 sessions a month at $160.00 a piece which is $6,400 a month. In a year working 20 hours a week I’d make $76,800.00 I can Live on $76,800.00 a year. More than 40 people need Thai massage. Austin and Round Rock area current population is 1,862,549. I need 40 of you to commit to getting regular work.

Robert Gardner Wellness Thai Massage Lumbar Traction
If I don’t teach Thai massage no one can receive the best bodywork I’ve ever had. I have a moral and ethical obligation to Teach Thai Massage. My family will be provided for and the public won’t be honking their horns at me in Austin traffic because they’re stressed. I won’t have to hear about another person who’s sitting in an office neglecting their body because they work 60 hours a week at a tech firm. You need Thai massage. I need Thai massage. The US needs Thai massage and the Planet needs it.

There Is No Scarcity. Illusion is the root of all suffering.

Would You Give A Man A Foot Massage?

I use lots of facebook groups like MassageNerd group to gather information and insight on my profession. Over time it gives me a chance to see various themes and perspectives on the massage industry. Here are some of the topics that massage brings up again and again: sexuality, intimacy, communication, hygiene and homophobia.

The following is the best video I’ve ever seen on the subject. Keep in mind this is Not Safe For Work. NSFW

It’s got it all, teasing homoeroticism between Vincent and Jules while touching on the intimacy and nurturing touch given to Jules grandmother. Jules expresses his physical mastery by not tickling during his masterly foot massage and the anger involved in perceived infidelity by someone else touching Marsellus Wallace’s wife is mentioned. I see the concepts so often it grows old and tired but at least Tarantino exists in a realm where he can express the reality through drama and wonderful dialogue.

Massage and bodywork is not what you think it is. Thai massage is above and beyond, a completely different beast. In our culture it does not exist. Not yet.

Without a Net

Someone asked me the other day what I do in a 2 hour session. A 2 hour massage seems unfathomable to people. In a country where the average massage is a standard hour people wonder what secrets you must pull out for a longer session. I politely told the client that I do the same but I take more time, slowly work my way through each limb and do more detailed work.

Over time I’ve grown to appreciate a 2 hour session and the feel it gives me the most time to adequately deal with client concerns and complaints while at the same time providing space so that I don’t feel like I have to rush. Going to a movie that was almost 3 hours the other night made me wonder why so many therapists and clients seem guffawed at receiving bodywork for that length of time.

I saw an interview with Mickey Hart where he described the Grateful Dead and their music and how they were never a studio band. As I’ve been writing and codifying Thai massage in videos and workbooks lately I completely understood his meaning. A 2 hour session with me is akin to the Grateful Dead’s 2 sets or more of music. If you cut them in half and only give them a first set when do they improvise? That first hour of massage is just warm up. Much like the music I love my bodywork is also performed in the moment with no formal container. Life much like bodywork is best done when you realize you’re performing without a net.

Social Media

I’ve been working with social media for several years now to get my message about Thai massage and yoga out to the public. With this website, blog, facebook, twitter and youtube I’ve slowly become an army with people starting to pay attention. My last Intro. to Thai massage class I had a student ask me to teach a marketing class for massage therapists. Internally, I just palmed my face.

Marketing? I don’t know anything about marketing. My class was full though. I thought about it. Wait, I didn’t pay for any advertising and I have a full class. How did I do it? I had great marketing. 😛 Marketing isn’t what most think it is. Want to see? This is where I started. I had a $400 laptop and a $100 flipcam and was still wondering what twitter was.

Students, peers and friends if you want to excel in business go with your heart. Choose something that excites and inspires you. Interact with your clients and everyone you meet with everyone’s best interest. Share you love…ceaselessly.

In the 21st century your business is only as strong as your social network.

New Home

Andrea and I are extremely excited to be moving onward and upward. We’ve found a home 3 miles from our current location and we’ll both have wonderful living space in addition to room to continue our businesses. The converted two car garage will allow me more teaching and studio space so things can continue to grow incrementally. Mid March we’re moving in.

View Larger Map

While looking at what Andrea and I have done I find it amazing to consider that many have told me what I’m currently doing is impossible. I couldn’t teach yoga in the room I was in. People want to go to a spa. It’s not big enough, clean enough, the floor isn’t wood and completely level, the mirrors are recycled and not installed etc. I’m happy to say that despite naysayers I’ve continued growing, learning, teaching and helping people reach their potential.

Thai massage class information will be posted later this week.

Ebb and Flow

Andrea and I have been working on trying to figure out buying the home we’re in for some time. We’ve never been fixated on purchase but it was always in the back of our minds. We have limited income, our businesses both operate out of the house in addition to its being living space.

We finally got word that our offer on the house was declined and someone else has purchased it. Time to move!

I announced to my yoga students last night that we had to be out of the house by March 1st. They didn’t make a sound. I was struck by it, expecting to hear whines or complaints. I teased one of our students about not having to do yoga anymore and Toni, one my most die hard students said, “Oh no, we’re doing yoga if we have to do it outside on the lawn.” I guess sometimes you reach students who won’t let you quit.

So in one month we have to move out completely. There are many things up in the air at the moment. We have to find and possibly buy a house in addition to moving our businesses and setting up shop elsewhere. The one thing that amazes me is we’ve taken almost nothing and built something. We had an old abandoned rent house with holes in the windows and grass as tall as me and not only made it better, we made businesses that grew out of it.

My Intro. to Thai massage class this weekend has 14 people in it. I’ve had to work 2 years to promote and grow my business in order to do that. I’m on the verge of real financial success, the kind where you pay for advertising instead of do it all for free on facebook.

Sometimes things ebb, sometimes they flow, just make sure you don’t grow too attached and always keep moving.


I’ve been waiting to make this post for some time. For two years now I’ve been updating my blog, working on putting my message about Thai massage and yoga out in public view. I’ve poured my soul into every ounce of technology I could muster and after two years here are the stats:

172 blog posts means I’ve written a new blog post on average every 4 days for the past two years.
189 facebook followers
91 twitter followers and 969 tweets
72 youtube videos with 20,753 views and 49 subscribers
10 yelp reviews, all of which are 5 stars

I’ve taught 200 yoga classes in the past two years at our home studio.

My Thai massage classes have numbered 7 since I started teaching and I’ve worked with 23 official students. I’ll be teaching 8 full days in January of 2013. My business has more than doubled in the past two years.

On average if I’ve worked with 2 clients a day 5 days a week for 10 years it means I’ve done 5,000 bodywork sessions. That’s impressive, even to me. It’s been fun working with you, let’s wait and see how much growth happens in 2013.


Over the years I’ve picked up many things from teachers. Often this has included technique in bodywork, a sense of holding space in a yoga class or a certain open heart and humanity that I’ve attempted to foster in myself, once I’ve noticed it in a teacher. Teachers will pass along things, even unknowingly, just as parents teach children by observation.

At the same time I’ve learned far more about who I wish to be as a teacher by negation. That is to say, I’ve noticed what I do not like and remind myself that as I teach I don’t wish to emulate the negative traits I’ve seen in others. Some of those things include:

1. Treating students or clients as if they are just another paycheck instead of a human needing assistance.
2. Expecting students to do exactly as I say as if it was handed down from on high.
3. Having students place me on a pedestal of some sort, energetically or otherwise.

I’ve worked towards not only high quality education where I value the students time and attention but I strive to be me, in my most true form as a human. My humanity and sense of humor comes through in class and that is as it should be. At all times I remind myself that we’re all in this together, all learning and worthy of time and assistance without ego.


Myofascial pain trigger points from infraspinatus are some of the worst I’ve ever seen in bodywork practice. Having had problems with the area myself, clients aren’t usually very happy when I find problems with theirs. It’s one of the most painful things I’ll work on anyone.

Infraspinatus helps control rotation of the head of the humerus or upper arm. It’s part of the rotator cuff that reaches around the shoulder joint. Releasing this area gives someone a much wider range of motion in the shoulder joint and if you have arm or shoulder pain I highly recommend trying this to see if it helps.

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?”

Massage your dog

While Erika was at Flipside I watched her dog Maggie and decided to shoot a short video on how to massage your dog. Years ago when I finished massage school I was taken with anatomy and could visually see the muscles involved in cooking a chicken or massaging a friends pet while at a party. This curiosity has served me well as a bodyworker. My sense of anatomy and functional capacity is higher for exploring outside of the standard academic confines.

Mammal anatomy is relatively similar and dogs of Maggies size are a perfect place to explore. Remember not to stress your hands and use your fingers, palms, heel of the hand and knuckles to do the work in a way that honors the joints and how they move.

The three main areas we focus on are the temporalis around the temples, the erector spinae along the spine and the shoulder in the front. Everything we press into is fleshy, push through the hair and skin to feel the muscles underneath. This is different than petting a dog topically but animals enjoy this just as much as humans do. Think doggie spa.

Dogs like Maggie hold far less postural strain than humans due to walking on all fours. Many of our issues with posture are due to standing upright. I rarely find out and out strain or excess tension in animals, they don’t hold onto things, they live in the present moment. We can learn things from them about how to live and approach life. Use massage to connect with your family pets.