From the first moment I went to Thailand I fell in love with the place. The culture, the smells, the spices, the excitement. The people, the respect and of course the Massages. I have been back many times over the years and my love of the country has grown every time.
I am a massage therapist and have been for 25 years. I have trained in many therapies over the years and use most of my skills daily within my business in Ickenham, Middlesex. I truly love my work and feel very blessed to be doing this full time. Having a large range of skills means every day is different and I am really able to offer my clients exactly the right treatment for them, that day.
When I was in my early twenties I heard of someone who had worked on a cruise liner in the casino. I thought this was amazing and wondered what I could do on board a cruise liner so I could travel the world and work at the same time. After a bit of research I saw lots of ships had spas and employed massage therapists. This was it, I had no previous interest or experience but it was Massage that stood out to me as being the thing to learn. A conversation with a work colleague later and I was enrolled on an intensive course learning Swedish Massage plus Anatomy and Physiology.
A month later there I was in a converted house with a medium sized group of other want-to-be therapists. I loved this week and really threw myself into the course and my learning. About 6 months later, I was a qualified massage therapist now studying Aromatherapy and then Cranio Sacral Therapy and Remedial Massage techniques. I was well and truly hooked. 2 years later I was flying out to Miami to join my first ship.
I gained so much experience from working on cruise liners as a massage therapist and I really feel this gave me the foundation to showing me what kind of therapist I wanted to be.
I still think now that Massage found me rather than the other way round. I feel my work has truly improved each growing year as I gain more knowledge and insight into therapies and people and the body.
I have always had an interest in a Thai Massage and had quite a number of treatments in the UK. Although enjoying the treatments, quite often I felt the therapists were just going through a routine rather than working with my body and my needs. I knew there must be more to this style of Massage but wasn’t sure if I needed to go and train in Thailand. In 2017 I stumbled across a half day Thai Massage workshop in London, on a Saturday when I was available. I signed up and attended the course. This gave me a good insight into the techniques and although that tutor offered a longer practitioners course, I did not resonate with them and didn’t feel his course was for me.
For me, I find I learn better if I feel an infinity with the teacher, and I feel their passion for their work. I did some research and found Natasha’s website and I was drawn to a short video on there. It was a student talking about how Natasha works within a classroom setting and it really intrigued me. In a March 2017 I was staying at my parents in the New Forest where there is limited phone signal yet I managed to connect with Natasha and we spent about an hour and a half talking on the phone. Her passion for her work just shone through and she had so many thoughts and ideas of where she was taking her Thai work, I was so impressed and so excited. I wanted to start my training there and then with her.
Unfortunately I had to wait until September to start my journey with her – I am not a very patient person for things for myself so it felt like an eternity before I was sitting on that train taking me to London to start my Module 1 week long intensive training.
I wasn’t nervous about learning a new technique. It is very different work to what I was offering my clients but being a very experienced therapist I assumed I would find it easy. There was a small group of us that week and most of the people had no or very little Massage experience. I was feeling enthusiastic and confident.
Natasha creates a very easy and relaxed atmosphere within her classroom setting, however there are boundaries and teachings are of a very high standard. Natasha gets down and works alongside her students, adapting our posture, giving advice on how the techniques could be more effective for both the giver and the receiver. She really seems to care about her students and genuinely wants us all to be amazing successful therapists in this field. Her passion really does shine through and all of this, to me, is what makes her such a fabulous teacher.
On that first day once we got into the practical side I really struggled. My mind was asking so many western questions, I stopped feeling and started thinking how I was working. My positioning was all wrong and I started to doubt myself. I was quite open with these feelings and they continued until about day 3.
Suddenly it all sort of made sense. We were learning Traditional Thai Yoga Massage, not a westernised version that had been adapted but techniques and knowledge that dates back hundreds of years. This is what I had been searching for. A simple way to look at the body and with easy amazing techniques release the body of tight bound up areas.
I started to get my excitement back and could feel my confidence returning. By the end of the week I was already booked in module 2 which was running the following month.
I started practising immediately after module 1, on my clients at home and was really pleased with the feedback.
Module 2 – another 5 days intensive course started, and I learnt some truly fantastic techniques that I incorporate into my treatments now daily. I felt a lot more comfortable and confident this week and knew I wanted to become a traditional Thai Yoga Massage practitioner.
What I am finding with these techniques is slowly I am working smarter, using my body in a truly effective way for both my client and myself. Initially I really ached after giving a Thai massage but now having taken on board tips and advice from Natasha I can really feel a difference in my body after work. The effects my clients are reporting are fantastic too, looser lighter muscles, renewed energy and an overall feeling of lightness seems to be the most common response.
This is deep work yet carried out in a sensitive caring manner working all the layers of the body in sequence to allow the body to relax and loosen slowly with the techniques. I have been blown away with the results I have seen with my clients and will continue to offer this treatment and hopefully watch Traditional Thai Yoga grow in the UK.
Click here to find out more about Jacqueline Dark.