At this point, I feel inclined to confess to you, dear reader, that I may have strayed at times from what one may consider a strictly linear timeline in this narrative. In keeping with our mission and purpose for our visit to Thailand, I had been very busy learning not only the art of Thai Yoga Massage, but how to be a teacher of Thai Yoga Massage. After a two-week stint at Sunshine Massage school taking an introduction to Thai Massage course, I decided I liked it very much, and felt it worthwhile to enroll in the six-week teacher training course at the world famous ITM Thai Massage School. The time had flown by, more like a fighter jet than a swallow, as we had each found our own way to interact with all that Chiang Mai had to offer.
Open since 1992, ITM has trained over 10,000 people in the art of Thai massage. With their one-week introductory course costing just over $100 CAD, many take it just for something to do, or out of curiosity. After my two-week intro to Thai Massage at Sunshine Massage School, I had decided I wanted to learn more about this ancient art, and delve deeper into its mysteries.
ITM offers the most comprehensive set of courses around, with four levels of study, plus a two-week teacher training intensive, or an all-inclusive eleven-week advanced practitioner teacher training program. Our timing was such that we would be leaving Thailand before the end of the inclusive program, so the six-week program fit our needs nicely.
And so, I became qualified to teach and practice the ancient art of Nuad Bo-Rarn to whosoever would wish to learn or receive. Thai Massage is an incredibly complex, yet seemingly simple art. Western massage, commonly based on Swedish style massage, is simple enough on the surface, consisting of rubbing and kneading, although it does require a deep understanding of anatomy and physiology. Thai massage consists of poses and maneuvers that could cause serious injury if performed incorrectly, much like Yoga.
Even after a total of 8 weeks’ study in this art, I felt like I needed much more practice before considering myself sufficient to teach or utilize it. As Chongkol, (aka ‘John’) the owner of ITM said, “One month not enough. Practice one year, maybe enough to be good. Maybe you come back and be better than us, teach us things.” I am inclined to agree with him, and am still learning the intricacies of this amazing healing art.
In the meantime, having completed her massage course at Vian Ping, Theresa had been deepening her study of Reiki with a local Reiki master she had discovered, and had achieved her status as a Reiki master. He had taught her the art of self-attunement, something she passed on to me, and we were both using our new skills in energy healing to deepen the quality and healing of the massages we gave.
Cyrus and Theresa had taken several Thai cooking classes, and were regularly whipping up amazing feasts of Thai food at home, although we still loved sampling the variety of amazing local cuisine. Violet had been enjoying her time at the Chiang Mai international school, where Theresa had been working part time, using her degree in Early Childhood Education, and they had both picking up some Thai, which made them even more formidable bargaining foes at the market, leading to an ever-increasing selection of amazing locally crafted items adorning our home.
All our learning had driven us to a desire of even more knowledge in the oriental healing arts, and our brief experiences with Ayurvedic treatment had given us a new direction on which to focus. For me, this was another step on the road of becoming versed in a multitude of healing arts, one which I had set out on nearly a decade before. True, I had taken forays off this road to pursue other things, like finding a well-paying job to cover the mortgage, raise a family, etc, but the underlying drive had always been there.
Once again deciding that the best way to learn a healing technique was in its country of origin, we firmed up our decision to make India our next, and perhaps final destination. We spent several weeks, amidst all our schooling and other explorations, researching different schools and regions of India. India is a vast place, and is more a union of many different cultures and states than it is a unified country. Comparing and contrasting the pros and cons of each, we came down to two, Kerala, the birthplace of modern Ayurveda, and Goa. Kerala was one of the only states in all of India that had not come under colonial rule at some point in its history, and so was one of the only places that had not endured having much of its original culture and medicine wiped out, or at least, heavily modified. As such, it had served as the re-birthing place for the ancient Indian healing art, which had since spread through much of India. One of the downsides of Kerala was how deeply Indian it still was, which would be fine for us travelling solo, or even as a couple, but we felt it might prove to be too much for the children.
Goa, on the other hand, had existed under Portuguese colonial rule, and had acquired a very different flavour from the rest of India, more European, and less British, and by that I mean more laid back, relaxed, and less ‘you wot, mate?’ Add to this that it had become a destination in its own right on the travel circuit due to the rave scene which had moved in during the seventies and eighties, and you had a seaside state, highly tolerant of foreigners, with an alternative lifestyle culture that would suit our needs perfectly.
Without knowing what to really expect, we enrolled Theresa in a school which taught a blend of Ayurvedic theory and body care, and started our preparations for what is among the most challenging and rewarding countries in the world for travelers. As one friend of mine noted, India will beat the wanderlust out of anyone, and it will be worth it.