What's the difference between studying Thai massage at home with western tutors or in Thailand?


I was recently asked by F.H.T. (Federation of Holistic Therapist) to write an article about studying Thai massage in Thailand. Here it is and I hope you will find this shared experiences useful.

'I chose to study Thai massage in Thailand because I thought that it would be an invaluable experience to combine the traditional training with the culture and philosophy behind this ancient healing art. Studying in a foreign country is never easy if the native language is not spoken and the language barrier can indeed be frustrating at times, but the Thai people are wonderful- very patient, calm, and understanding.

In Asia, awareness about the body is very different than in the West. There is always someone ready to offer a smile and touch is a vital part of the culture. Thai massage stretches and positions initially look odd to the Western eye and our technical minds find it hard to learn and memorise them at first.

The real learning experience in Thailand comes from simply watching and observing the masters and teachers performing the hundreds of moves, just like a dancing meditation. This is an ancient healing art that has been passed on from tradition to tradition, and still is nowadays.

At ITM, you won’t just learn a set of moves and techniques; you will be taught how to move; how to close your eyes; and how to work in a meditative and concentrated state of mind. You will be taught how to observe and practice, which is something that you can only learn in Thailand.

The Thai teachers’ and masters’ English is very good but their friendly manners,
guidance, professionalism and patience in explaining, demonstrating, and guiding the students is simply superb.

The only downside to the whole experience is that what you will learn is a practical skill and that there is not much room for questioning. As Westerners, we have a constant need to ask and ‘demand’ explanations and clarifications, but the Thai’s will simply look at you and smile, and to some this could be a problem if they might require more specific methods of teaching.

Master Chongkol Setthakorn has taught Thai massage at the Old Medicine Hospital in Chiang Mai since 1985 and has been running and directing ITM School since 1992.

Chongkol, alongside his family and team, teach to worldwide students and their reputation and easy-to-follow teaching style are simply amazing and inspirational.

Accommodation, food, and general living expenses are very cheap and easy to book and English is widely spoken everywhere.

My advice to anyone who travels to Thailand to study is to go with an open mind and an open heart. If you can bear to be away from home for a few weeks; willing
to be taught in a traditional eastern way, rather then a western college style; and keen to absorb and practice as much as possible, the experience will be invaluable!

  Travelingis a wonderful experience in itself, and if combined with study, this can certainly be a great combination. Chiang Mai is a wonderful city too with plenty to do, from trekking to visiting hill tribes or yoga retreats.

Many years have passed since that first experience and I keep on going back to Thailand, to Chiang Mai, and to ITM at least once a year. Thailand has become a second home; ITM a second family; and my passion for Thai Massage as strong as it was ten years ago.

If you go to the right schools in Thailand, the master will always be the master…and you will always take a bit of culture and a piece of Asia back home with you.

Chongkol teachings have been invaluable and nowadays, with his blessings, I run my own courses in Thai massage across Europe.

The Thai people have a wonderful saying: Muen muen kan, tae taek tang
That translates as ‘Everything is the same, just different!’

I teach regular Ongoing Training classes internationally.

Visit the website https://www.shenmantra.com

Several other FHT members have also provided their own experiences of training inThailand, which are also featured in the article.

Read the full stories at http://www.fht.org.uk/mainwebsite/resources/file/thaipersonalaccounts.pdf

Take good care!

Francesca x


#ThaiYogaMassage #ChiangMai #ShenMantra #FHT