Teaching Massage in Nepal

Nepal clinic

This is my second blog on being in Nepal as a volunteer for Mindful Medicine. (See my earlier blog for more details on how I ended up in Nepal.)

What I like about Mindful Medicine is that they want their work to be sustainable, to make a lasting difference. Instead of just bringing acupuncturists in for 2 to 4 month periods to treat, they have them teach as well. The Vajra Varahi clinic-paid interpreters have been learning basic acupuncture treatments so that they can help the acupuncturists that come here as well as treat in their absence.

Since I am a body worker and only halfway through my training as an acupuncturist I came to work here in a slightly different capacity. I was able to bring a massage table that was donated from Earthlight to do the work (30 pounds, by the way!). My job here is to teach the staff the basics of massage and anatomy so that they can continue to help the local population. A lot of people here have low-back, neck, and shoulder pain, often accompanied with arthritis. See the picture below (enough said).

Nepal bushels


I’ve started teaching. The students are Satyamohan, Sonya, and Prajwal who are all 25 years old and Ramita who is 33 and the only one with a child. They all have other jobs in the clinic, such as interpreting and reception work. I designed my classes based on my 6 years of experience, what Jessica and Grainne of Mindful Medicine had talked to me about, and what I went over with the clinic director when I got here. The students are picking it up fast and I’m actually envious of the way they get to learn massage, with one-on-one attention and none of the bullshit classes I had to take to satisfy state requirements. I’m working really hard to make sure that they can apply what I am teaching them once I am gone.

Sonya in the clinic room with the donated massage table

Sonya in the clinic room with the donated massage table

A lot of people asked me, “Don’t they already have massage there?” I could almost hear the question, “Why the hell do they need you to come and teach them?”

Well, yeah, they’ve had Ayurveda here for thousands of years (Ayurveda is Indian traditional medicine and it includes massage), but what they don’t have is a massage school . They also don’t have anyone local that will volunteer their time to teach.

Teaching is a lot of work but it’s also fun. I spent a considerable amount of time organizing the information and lesson plans.

Satyamohan practicing on Prajwal while Ramita watches

Satyamohan practicing on Prajwal while Ramita watches

There’s no shortage of patients to work with and to train the staff on. I don’t know that more than one or two of the staff will like and want to pursue massage here in the clinic, but at least they now have the option. It’s been nice sharing my passion for body work and my expertise in the field. Being in school for the past two years has really challenged my ego and it’s been great feeling like I know what I’m doing again.

Satyamohan at the clinic desk

Satyamohan at the clinic desk

It has been an interesting lesson in culture so far. I have learned that students here are taught to learn without asking questions. I find myself asking the students if they have any questions and then having to wait for a long time or suggesting questions for them to ask.  I can now see when I’m saying something in English that they don’t understand and have learned to ask if they do.

I think we all use a lot of phrases and colloquialisms that we don’t even notice. It’s been a lesson in English and the meaning of words for me as I go along. One day I kept using the word subtle and then found myself having to describe it. It’s the opposite of obvious, right? Other words I just stand there repeating over and over to define it. Well defensive, it’s like, well it’s just defensive. No, it’s like offensive… okay, well it’s more like when you are feeling the need to be defensive. (Yeah, I’m getting better.)

The clinic is in Chapagaon, Lalitpur district of Kathmandu. It is called Vajra Varahi and shares the grounds with a Buddhist monastery. The clinic provides treatments to the locals for 5 rupees or free.

As you can imagine this trip wasn’t exactly cheap, flying across the world and taking two months off of work was daunting. If you find the work worth while and are interested in helping to pay for supplies, travel, and living expenses please use the PayPal Donate button below. (Click on the below Donate button, log into your PayPal account, go to the Send Money tab, enter my email address – Violet_dreamscape@yahoo.com, enter amount, click the Personal tab, and click Continue).

Energetic support is also appreciated!

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