These days, some of the more inventive teachers on the Thai massage circuit are actually Westerners. They are usually already accomplished bodyworkers and give themselves more freedom to invent and explore. It would be easy to take classes in Europe or in the Bay Area, the bodywork Mecca I happen to live in. Yet it is different being in the country that brought forth the form, and it keeps calling me back. A friend of mine jokingly refers to Chiang Mai as the Prague of Asia, and it is true that this dusty and at times polluted Northern city attracts healers from all backgrounds. And while unfortunately the landscape is now inhabited by a lot of over night “massage schools”, serious yogis and bodyworkers alike keep going back time and again discovering new teachers or setting up their own workshops. On my last trip to Thailand in March, I recharged myself first in Chiang Mai; eating well, wandering through the back alleys of the old town, receiving bodywork.
Then I flew to the Southern province of Surat Thani to take a nine day Thai Massage course at Khao Sok National Park. The Khao Sok rain forest is a remnant of the 160 million year old forest ecosystem that is much older and richer than the forests of the Amazon. We were on the banks of a ten square mile lake. The workshop facilitator was Ralf Marzen, and his girlfriend Lu was leading the morning yoga. The lake and the jungle surroundings, a constant presence, slowly embedding themselves in our work. Below, I am sharing some photos that hopefully convey the atmosphere of the practice.