Do you want to learn from a Tibetan Doctor, from an Ayurvedic Teacher or from a Thai Massage practitioner in their country? Then you need to know a few tips before you start your massage course. I will share my thoughts and best practices on studying in Asia in two posts, so stay tuned for the remaining part tomorrow!
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
When you travel to Asia, in the same way that you are ready to completely change your diet, your daily timetable and routines, maybe even your clothing style; you ought to be open to change your mentality when you are receiving massage classes from an Asian teacher.
That said, naturally if the teacher lives in a Western country, he will be more used to our teaching methods and styles, but even in this case, you have to be extra respectful with their methods.
RESPECT YOUR MASSAGE TEACHERS
In Asia, a teacher is a venerable person with a high level of respect not only from the students, but also from the society. An example of this is that the only persons who do not have to bow in front of the emperors in Japan are their masters, as they say that if there are no good masters there are no good emperors.
So the first tip is to show respect to your teacher.
As in Asia the culture, the religion and the customs are totally different to what we have in the Western world, you should study them before you travel there.
HOW TO BEHAVE IN THE MASSAGE COURSE
I remember that during my first trip to Thailand we were four students (two Thais and 2 Europeans) and the teacher. We were all laying down on the mat, practicing some Thai massage techniques. The other European student, avoiding to speak loud in front of everyone, gently touched the teacher´s leg with her feet, just to catch her attention. She did it with his best intentions, but that is one of the worse things that you can do to anyone in Asia, because they believe that the feet are the most impure part of the body, and touching someone with them, is like spitting on their face. The other two Thai students screamed at the European girl, taking her foot away from the teacher with very bad manners. She was totally in shock, as she did not know what was wrong. I tried to calm the Thai students, trying to explain the misunderstanding, and at the end we all made fun of it. This is just a basic example of the effect culture and customs have during your learning process.
Here are some tips for your trip to Asia according to my own experience. I am sure that I am forgetting some aspects, so please add the ones that you consider important! I am sure that we together can make a wonderful list that can be very helpful for new students.
- Before entering the class, house, temple, etc., leave your shoes in the foyer, neatly with toes pointing outside.
- If the answer that you receive from your teacher does not satisfy you because you think that it is not clear enough, do try to think that the answer is maybe not that bad, and that instead, you might have made the wrong question.
- Many Asians are very polite and before saying NO as an answer, they prefer to say maybe, could be, or just skipping the answer. The same way that they do not like to say NO, you should also be very delicate with your answers, because a NO as an answer, most probably will be taken as bad manners. So try to be gentle in your answers.
- To smile is sometimes the easiest way to be polite without saying anything, so if at some point, you do not know what to do, just smile, and wait for the other to make the first move, and then simply do the same.
- Gifts, business cards, tea bowls, etc., are always accepted with both hands, and the same goes for when you give something to someone.
- You should always be on time for your classes, and if you can not make it in time, try not to interrupt the class.
- When the teacher enters the classroom the students wait for him standing up, as a gesture of respect.
- If you have a temple in your classroom, you can bring flowers or offerings and they will change them every day.
Read about the “DON´Ts” and “DID YOU KNOW THAT…” in my next post!
Wishing you a meaningful day ahead,
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