The Healing Touch of Esalen Massage
Esalen Team
January 1, 2018
Photo by Cameron Jordan

When Esalen Massage School Director Brita Ostrom arrived at Esalen in 1967, massage already was a part of the Institute’s culture. “It was blossoming out of collaborations among visionary faculty of the time including Charlotte Selver, Bernie Gunther, Molly Shackman, Ida Rolf, and Moshe Feldenkrais, to name a few,” recalls Brita.

Yet it was not until the early 1980s that the concept of the school was conceived – and under less than ideal circumstances. “There we were, sitting in the Lodge, writing up the proposal,” says Brita, speaking of herself and colleagues Deborah Medow, Vicki Topp, and Peggy Horan. “A gigantic landslide had covered Highway 1 and the road to the north was closed. And so the Esalen Massage School was born out of a disaster.”

As Esalen emerges from yet another season of slides, the massage school remains the longest operating school of its kind in the state under original leadership. It continues to draw aspiring practitioners worldwide with its focus on mind, body, and spirit integration and through an approach that incorporates long, flowing strokes inspired by the ocean’s waves.

This month, students will have a unique opportunity to enroll in a six-week massage certification program at Esalen with a special $1,500 reduction on standard accommodations.

The six-week experience will be co-lead in parts by familiar Esalen faces including Deborah Medow and Perry Holloman. Each leader brings a long history of teaching and practice both at Esalen and worldwide.

“This time of year can be a quieter and more intimate experience at Esalen,” observes Deborah of the upcoming January 26 start date for the 250-hour certification program. “It’s amazing what happens in the six-week program. The group develops a deep bond; we become family. By immersing yourself, you’re really learning how to bring a full-hearted presence to massage, but also to anything you do in life.”

While Esalen offers a variety of massage workshops, it is through the signature certification programs that Esalen massage teachers pass on an incredible legacy to new generations of massage practitioners. “This program really holds the vision of Esalen co-founder Dick Price in that Esalen massage is one of the core teachings that came out of what we call ‘The Stream’,” says Perry. “[These are] teachings unique to Esalen that came out of its first decade – Gestalt as an awareness practice, sensory awareness, and intellectual teachings from Abraham Maslow, Virginia Satir, and later Stanislav Grof, among others.”

The 250-hour certification program provides training in Esalen massage and includes the core curriculum as required by the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC). It is ideal for those in the healing professions in working with their patients and clients. Upon completion, and after documenting 30 additional massages at a home site, participants receive a Certification of Completion for 250 hours that can be applied toward the 500 hours required to receive the California Massage Practitioner Certificate. The Esalen Massage School is approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education and accredited by the CAMTC and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).

“There is a very deep mind/body/spirit integration — that great triangle of being, including our emotions,” adds Perry. “This is why Esalen massage is such a powerful awareness practice.”

Learn more about the different certification levels available.

Call 831-667-3003 to inquire about the January 26 program and $1,500 offer.

Photo by Jens Wazel


Esalen Team