As much as I’d like to keep this a secret, I feel it’s my duty to share this with the world. And if your world is in Austin, Texas, odds are you’ve heard the name Robert Gardner. A few years ago, I did an internet search for “Thai massage CEU Texas.” RobertGardnerWellness.com was not the only page to come up, and not even the most local to me (being in Houston), but there was something about him and his site that spoke to me, and within a few days, I made the trip to Austin to take his Intro to Thai Massage class.
As a massage therapist schooled in table work, I was floored…literally…as the training took place primarily on the floor, on a mat. But I was even more “floored” when I had the unique pleasure of accompanying him to what (I like to refer to as a “hippie love fest”) he has branded a Thai Massage Jam®.
As we entered the yoga studio where it was held, there were already about a dozen or so folks eagerly awaiting his arrival. (This number more than doubled by the end of the night.) There was mostly a sprawling of Thai massage mats, cushy futon cushions, interlocking foam tiles, and the occasional yoga mat. People of all ages, shapes and sizes were anxious to try out their best Thai massage moves, or to receive the bodywork that would relieve their ailments. As an “outsider”, I could hardly believe my eyes. Men and women, young and old laid next to one another, arms outstretched, some face up, some face down, some even holding hands…all in the name of giving and receiving the healing gift of Thai massage. Robert floated around the room encouraging people to “find the tension” and “do what feels good”. He managed to balance giving massage, teaching techniques and versatility for optimal body mechanics, using anatomical references for both the professional and the lay person while simultaneously doing voices, cracking jokes, smiling, and compassionately striving to end suffering with chronic pain—and he made it look effortless!
What I love about the Thai Massage Jam® is the fact that it not only makes great bodywork accessible to the community immediately, but in its very nature, it enables others to pay it forward. AND it does so in an environment that is relaxed, welcoming, and non-threatening. No one has to get naked to get a great massage. All bodywork is performed with the receiver fully clothed, so people seemed to be more relaxed that they would be if everyone was trading Swedish table massage. Also, with the massage taking place in a public space, the creep factor is basically non-existent, despite the fact that people are essentially grappling or working in very close proximity to one another. I didn’t realize this could exist!
So, at the end of the night, I had worked on strangers, had strangers work on me, made a few friends, learned some new techniques that were effective but easy on my body, and I had an amazing time doing it while laughing, learning, having fun, and sharing good with the world. Did I mention it was FREE? There is now a small fee to help cover the cost of the space, but it is ABSOLUTELY worth it! If you’re ever in Austin on a Thursday night, do yourself a favor and check out the Thai Massage Jam®. Better yet, take Robert’s Thai massage courses and start a jam in your own city, and give the gift that keeps on giving—the gift of healing touch.