Frequently Asked Questions
What is Thai Massage?
Thai bodywork is an entire branch of traditional Thai medicine that consists of a multitude of traditional therapies ranging from bone setting (traditional chiropractics) to use of herbal balms, liniments and hot compresses. In-between is a wide range of bodywork techniques such as Thai deep tissue, passive stretching, and work that focuses on freeing pathways of movement in the body such as tendons, muscles, ligaments and nerves. Thai bodywork can be calming and relaxing, but also holds the potential to be the most physically intensive deep tissue work there is. It employs esoteric folk healing techniques such as Thai fire cupping, Thai scraping, and tok sen.
Being a branch of traditional Thai medicine, Thai bodywork is steeped in traditional Thai medical theory. Like Rolfing® it can restructure our body alignment, and like medical massage it can be used to treat acute traumatic injury. Unlike these western modalities, Thai bodywork integrates a deep spiritual component based on Buddhism as medicine, and the idea that the mental, energetic, emotional and physical bodies are not separate.
Do classes at the Naga Center count for continuing education?
Depends on where you live, but usually the answer is yes. In the U.S. our classes count for continuing education through both the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and many of our classes are approved through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), as well as for most state requirements, and we are an approved instructor school with Thai Healing Alliance International (THAI). If you live in a state that has some tricky continuing education law (Louisiana, you know what we mean) and you need us to jump through some hoops to make sure your hours here count for you, let us know! We do everything we can to help massage therapists meet their state CE requirements. Students coming from outside of the U.S. are encouraged to research their country's massage continuing education requirements.
Will certification in Thai massage allow me to practice professionally?
In the U.S. each state has its own laws regarding practicing massage professionally; meaning accepting payment for bodywork. Some states, like Oregon, require hundreds of hours of training in a career school, which The Naga Center is not. In these states we would be considered a school of continuing education, not a career school. In some states there is no massage regulation at all, making training a non-issue. In some states it comes down to verbiage; if you call Thai massage energy work, or yoga therapy (both common misnomers), then you can practice legally without a license (this does not fly in Oregon!). Some states, like California (last time we checked), require that you have a certain number of hours of training in order to practice massage professionally, but they do not require that you get this training at a state licensure school; hence you can count your hours at The Naga Center toward being able to practice professionally (do your due diligence, these laws are changing a lot in California).
As you can see see, there is not an easy answer to the question, and that's just within the U.S.; globally it becomes even more complicated. Students are responsible for researching the laws in their individual state/country, but we are happy to help if possible at The Naga Center. If you have any questions about professional practice, please feel free to give us a holler.
Does the Thai Medical Theory online class count for continuing education?
This will be different everywhere. In the state of Oregon, where we are, massage therapists must have 25 hours of continuing education each renewal cycle, 12 of which must be hands on, and 13 of which can be distance learning. You will need to check with your local massage regulatory agency.
I have studied Thai massage at another school, or with another teacher; which class should I start with at The Naga Center?
We recommend that everyone start with either the Thai Medical Theory for Bodyworkers online course, or the Foundations of Thai Bodywork course. Our courses do not begin in the same place as Thai massage courses at other schools, and we can promise you that you will not be repeating information that you learned elsewhere. We frequently have students who have been studying and practicing, and even teaching, Thai massage for many years, and we have never had a student who felt that our beginning classes were redundant to what they had learned in the past.
Do you offer out of town students lodging?
We do not offer lodging, however we are happy to provide you with a list of good local lodging options varying from hostels to fancy hotels. We are also happy to give a shout to our local student community to see if anyone has an extra room or a comfy couch. Just let us know how we can help you.
Can I do a work trade, get a scholarship, or pay with a payment plan?
Because we are a very small school, we do not offer scholarships, and rarely are able to offer work trades. However, because we believe that knowledge should not be cost prohibitive to those who truly want it, we are often able to work out payment plans should this be needed. Please save this option for those who have no other way of possibly joining the course, because one thing that makes it possible for us to be flexible about this, is that not everyone is paying this way. If a payment plan is truly the only way that you can join us then please contact us to inquire further. If you want to learn what we are teaching, then we want you in class.
What is a naga?
Nagas are serpentine, dragonish creatures who are earth dwellers whose lore is found in India and Southeast Asia. Long ago, they were malevolent, but Buddhism has a way of taming things and so after the arrival of The Buddha, they came to be seen more as helping beings. If you ever see an image of The Buddha sitting in meditation with a five headed serpent hovering over him, that is the king of the nagas protecting him as he seeks enlightenment.
In Thailand every temple has nagas whose heads are down at the bottom of the stairs, and whose bodies serve as handrails going up to the door. So the nagas guide you into sacred space.