When I was still a Thai Massage practitioner and teacher, I often got questions about how and where to study Thai Massage in Thailand. At the time, I created a short compilation of the answers I gave.
“… first of all when you’d like the become a practitioner you should study ‘a sequence.’ You should dream the sequence.” In fact, any school in Thailand will do.
“… an other aspect is studying with Western or Thai teachers. I think you should study with both (…) The disadvantage of working with Thai Teachers is often the lack of the theoretical and also the linguistic aspect… but then again, you can’t beat the Thai style. If you’ve studied with a Western teacher already, I don’t think it will harm you to study with a Thai teacher (and there are enough books, material on theoretical aspects available if that part is missing).”
“… be aware that studying in Chiang Mai (generally) is: Northern Style (more stretches, more yoga, slower, longer sessions). Studying in Bangkok is Southern Style (more acupressure, less stretches, less yoga, and faster and shorter sessions). I won’t discuss therapy aspects now. That’s a whole world in itself, but as you start, this is something not to concern yourself about right now. That will come or not come later, depending on your interests.”
“… in general I would say this to you: choose a school, no matter what school and study a sequence with the school a minimum of 4 times. You then digest a sequence, a lineage deeply. And practice, practice, practice. After that you can go shopping around at other schools. (…) Chiang Mai style is deeply influenced by the Northern lineage coming from the Old Medicine Hospital, Pichest Thai Massage, Chayuth. Learning never stops.”
“… of course there are many, many schools in Chiang Mai. Many courses. It’s always good to repeat the ‘beginner-course’ though. You can go to Sunshine Massage School, the famous Old Medicine Hospital, Loi Kroh Massage school (Private one-on-one teaching), The School of Massage for Health, Lanna Thai Massage School, TMC, ITM and others.”
“… a ‘beginner-course’ is certainly not for beginners only, it’s always learning, repeating a full body massage. Do that, learn that until you’re confident. That can take one, two, three beginner courses. It’s up to you, what you feel, when you feel confident. But my advice: go to one school and do the beginner courses all with them, with one school. Don’t switch, until you’re confident. After that you can start doing ‘advanced courses,’ also with other schools, which are mostly one week courses, learning more techniques. Take time also to take a break after two or three weeks of courses. You’ll need it. You’re body and mind. I would say, after 8-12 weeks of courses you’ll be good enough and probably confident to start practicing. And then the big test comes: real people. You’ll need to do a lot of sessions to become proficient.”
“… there’s no ‘the-best-Thai-massage-School’ in Thailand. It depends all on what you like and need—the teachers, the style, the environment, the group. You need to try. And re-try. Until you find what suites you.”
“… it’s not a rule, but I definitely think a Thai Massage practitioner should at least once visit Thailand and do at least one Thai Massage course in Thailand. It’s all about the roots, the culture, the atmosphere. It’s a little bit like studying, teaching or speaking Japanese, without ever having been in Japan. It’s possible—but not really recommendable.”
“… I would say—it’s not about new positions. That’s good, nice, and even needed in the beginning, but finally its not at all about that. You can stick with a teacher or school in Thailand, even if the set of techniques is limited. It’s about the spirit, and about deeply understanding what this work is. A good teacher can convey that,.”
“… well, where do you like to go? What do you like, what do you want? (…) In India there are good Thai Massage courses/teachers also, as there are of course in Thailand. In Thailand naturally there’s a lot more choice than India. Especially in Chiang Mai (North of Thailand). Chiang Mai is the “Mecca” of learning Thai Massage. As you already practice Yoga and your interest lies there, I would recommend you to go to Chiang Mai, which is much more yoga based Thai Massage than Bangkok (which= Southern Style Thai Massage= more acupressure based).”
“… just go, go, go. Follow your passion. Learn. Visit different teachers. Practice. Return to Thailand whenever you can. Accept the (professional and personal) highs and the lows. It takes time. But what a time it is.”
“… I could not possibly recommend you a school or teacher. Well, yes, I could if you insist, but this thing is so, so personal. It all depends… I could only tell you what I like—so far. But what value has it?”