To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “A Happy Song: Esalen Massage,” by Deborah Anne Medow, in the April 2011 issue. Article summary: Esalen massage easily lends itself to both enhancing and integrating aspects of other massage modalities. Over the years, Esalen practitioners have been fortunate in having the opportunity to experience and work with the creators and disseminators of now well-established bodywork systems and martial art disciplines.

by Deborah Anne Medow

Esalen® massage, well-known for its long, flowing strokes over the whole body, helps release the stresses of everyday life, leaving the receiver feeling whole, integrated and deeply relaxed, in a natural state of well-being. Esalen practitioners are dedicated to connecting deeply with each client and can usually accommodate specific requests and preferences within the Esalen massage modality.

For more than 40 years, Esalen massage courses have been offered at Esalen Institute and at other schools and centers in the U.S. and abroad. In 1982, the Esalen Massage School was founded to offer trainings for students to certify in Esalen massage. Now, there are three levels of massage and bodywork training offered at Esalen.

For the novice, there are a number of introductory and five-day courses available.

To become a certified Esalen massage practitioner, a student must complete a 28-day training, with a minimum of 150 hours, leading to a certificate of completion.

Advanced specialized trainings of weekend, five or 10 days are also offered at Esalen. These courses can be added to the above massage certificate, accruing to a total of 250 hours, or with an individual advisor, to the 500-hour certification.

There are also programs offered outside of Esalen, including a 100-hour massage certification program for those already certified in another massage modality by an accredited school, and the 150-hour massage certification training. (For more information, visit The Esalen Institute is approved by the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork as a category-A provider of continuing education.

Deborah Anne Medow, a long-time Esalen workshop leader, has been practicing and teaching Esalen massage, yoga, creative movement, awareness practices and related healing disciplines for more than 40 years throughout the U.S., Europe and Japan. She is also a certified nutrition educator, Zumba® dance instructor and manager of the Esalen Healing Arts Department (