At a rising rate, people are looking to the East to address the root causes of illness, aches and pains, rather than relying on pills or invasive procedures to dull symptoms. Pick up nearly any health magazine, and there’s a good chance you’ll find at least a few paragraphs, if not an entire article, devoted to healing strategies that have been used in Eastern medicine for centuries.

Within the world of massage and bodywork, practitioners have been ahead of the curve, branching out to incorporate Eastern modalities in their daily practices. If you’re looking to add an Asian flair to your own massage or bodywork menu, then continuing education may offer the perfect opportunity.

Before you begin searching for or enrolling in any type of continuing education class, first make sure the class and provider are approved by your state or local massage board. This way, the credits will count toward maintaining your massage credential when renewal rolls around.

Once you know what’s required by the regulating body, you can focus on the fun part—finding a continuing education class that will show you how to begin performing Asian-inspired bodywork.

Start by doing a bit of research on each of these modalities, and try to get a feel for which one best suits your existing style of massage or bodywork. Visiting the Web site of the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia may be a good place to begin your research.

Examples of touch therapy from the East include reiki, reflexology, Thai massage, shiatsu and more. If you’re looking to incorporate a technique that’s based on energy, for example, you may want to explore reiki. In use in the East for thousands of years, reiki typically involves holding your hands just above a client’s body, directing warm and healing energy exactly where it’s needed.

Besides being a great addition to a massage or bodywork menu, this Asian bodywork therapy also should give your body a bit of a break throughout the day, as it doesn’t require the same amount of physical work as standard massage.

Reflexology is another wonderful offering you may consider as you search for Asian-inspired continuing education classes. These courses should teach you how points on the feet, hands and ears can correspond to different parts of the body. A solid continuing education class should also instruct students how to manipulate these points to bring about desired changes in a client’s body.

Of course, as you enter the world of Asian bodywork therapy, you must remember that one continuing education class is only the first step toward acquiring a master skill set in this new realm of modalities.

Fortunately, you should be able to use at least a portion of your continuing education requirements to progress further up the ladder of Asian-inspired bodywork, eventually becoming as comfortable with these techniques as you may be with traditional massage therapy.

—Brandi Schlossberg