SuperYogi speaks with Massage Therapist and Yoga Man, Rob Peirce.
What inspired you to train?
I was sat on the train into Tokyo one morning and I watched a little old lady reading a book, tracing points and meridian lines over the top of her head. I thought how amazing it would be to know how to improve the condition of the body by touch.
A little while after that a girl I was hanging out with asked me to give her a massage and I realised I had no idea where to start or what to do and that really got me thinking, but I never got around to doing anything about it until my Mum was diagnosed with cancer a year or so later. I moved back to London to look after her and found all my friends had moved on from where we grew up, so I needed something to get stuck into to to meet new people and engage my brain, so I decided to give it a go.
I went to a Shiatsu introduction evening that I saw in the back of Time Out, got excited, signed up for the course without ever receiving a treatment and three years later I was practicing full time. Crazy now I think about it, that was nine years ago.
Where did you qualify and how have you developed your techniques since then?
I studied Zen Shiatsu in London for 3 years and then relocated to Thailand in 2006 to explore Thai massage. It was a pretty vibrant scene and opened up a lot of possibilities to me, particularly incorporating my yoga practice into treatments. I still regularly go back out to northern Thailand to spend time in and around Chiang Mai, it’s a very special place and offers an abundance of opportunities to study with heavy weight Thai teachers.
That said, there are a great many gifted westerners teaching Thai massage as well and I’ve travelled all over Europe to study more contemporary methods and techniques, most recently Osteo – Thai with David Lutt and Arno L’Hermitte in France, That’s really had a huge influence on my practice.
You just like traveling, right?
I admit, there was a little bit of that to begin with, but now having done it I personally think it’s incredibly important to experience and explore the culture and spirit of the places where these disciplines originated if you’re going to use them. It adds a richness to your practice that wouldn’t be there otherwise.
What about your yoga practice?
I’ve practiced Asana for 12 years but I’ve never found a particular style or method that resonated with me wholly. I’m just surrounded by amazing teachers. I do have a daily Kriya practice that comes from the time I spent time at the Isha Ashram in southern India learning meditation techniques, they’re pretty much central to my life.
I never stop learning. I think it’s a very exciting time for massage culture as people come together to blend styles and disciplines and come up with new artisanal therapies or ways of applying them. There are so many great therapists around sharing their knowledge and experiences- both socially and professionally- if you want to understand and develop new ways of working, you’re spoilt for choice. I’m open to anything if it can be incorporated into my established style and is beneficial for my client.
How do you approach a new client?
Each client is different, so I can’t generalise. I’ll always get background information and ask what they would like from their session, but the initial treatment is really me discovering what I feel is going on with their body, while at the same time allowing them to see & feel the benefit of the treatment.
How important is it to have regular treatments?
I do see a phenomenal amount of change in the people I work with regularly. The basic idea of all my treatments is to remove energetic blocks before they start causing trouble, so if someone makes the effort to establish a regular pattern of treatment, the effects will be more profound and far reaching than it would be if they approached it as an occasional nice thing to do, especially if they’re already eating properly, practicing yoga and meditating as well.
So Thai Massage compliments a yoga practice?
I can’t overstate that I think they’re perfect companions for each other. The level of physical fitness and heightened personal awareness that a mindful Asana practice brings coupled with treatment from someone who knows what they’re doing will keep your body in a good condition and allow you to get more in touch with your subtle nature, which is what yoga is really all about. Having said that, all you’ll be thinking about at the end of a treatment is how good your body feels!
Do you face any pre conceived ideas from clients because you are a male practitioner
Tricky question!? Doubtless there’s a stereotypical view of guys who do massage and Yoga but I’m doing my best to not live up to it. I’m personally not interested in cultivating that sort of identity, I’m just trying to develop and live with awareness in this increasingly difficult modern environment, I’ve found yoga and massage to be the perfect tools to effortlessly practice this.
Describe your massage style in five words.
Intuitive. Creative. Intensive. Restorative. Accessible. Oh! and sometimes, fun. But that’d be 6 wouldn’t it?
Robert answered these questions crashed on his sofa, in his vest & pants, eating peanut butter from the jar with a spoon.
To book an appointment email on Rob@modernalternatives.com & follow on twitter @RobertPeirce or visit his website click here www.modernalternatives.com