I came from a family and a culture where being a massage therapist or a manual therapist of any type was not only not an option, but was never presented as a possibility or an idea of something reputable or of good earnings.
Having always been a very physical person, in an academic environment, I always struggled with finding the right study for me. I studied languages, philosophy, some psychology, interesting subjects, but I really struggled to know what I wanted to do when I grew up.
Before I took off for my intercontinental travels, at the age of 26, I had been a lighting technician for 9 years and I had been learning and working in a TV house production as an assistant director and a video editor for may be 3 years.
I’ve been often asked in interviews how I found Thai Massage, how the whole thing started and I always enjoy the story, because it’s unexpected and so unpretentious!
It was 1999, I had just gotten back to Byron Bay, Australia, where I chose to migrate, after over 2 years of travelling, when a backpacker asked me if he could practice on me a massage he learnt in his travels. He didn’t even tell me what it was called. I had no idea, I had never heard of it before and had never encountered it before, not having ever travelled through Asia, and being Italy, in those times, such a mono culture.
Well, I was blown away. I think he only did the leg stretches on me, from the front position. I had never received anything like it. Since I was a child I always enjoyed massaging friends, and there I was, receiving something completely different, I had never even heard of. It was done on the floor, I was dressed and rather than being stroked with oil, I was moved around and massage through acupressure!
It took me a little while to find out what it was called and where that guy had studied. But on my next visit to Italy, I booked my flights via Thailand, booked the course in Chiang Mai and stopped there to study for 3 weeks.
The ITM basic course, teaching the whole Northern style sequence was only of 10 days, but luckily, I stayed for an extra week of study, which I found absolutely necessary for me to be able to understand that amount of information, with the little practice time ITM allows.
I have a lot to say (ultimately not so good) about the courses that ITM runs, but this is not the space for it. So, there I was, coming back to Byron Bay with my newly acquired skill and with no intention to do anything with it, most of all at a professional level. I chose to go study it just for myself, for my own experience and I wasn’t even dreaming to start a new massage business, in massage capital of Australia: Byron Bay.
But it happened. I went to a Vipassana meditation retreat as I got back, on the last day there, I met someone who worked in a Byron Bay shop with massage rooms, who introduced me to the owner, who took me on and so I started my career as a Thai Massage therapist. As they say, when things are meant to be….
I worked from that centre, from home and to homes for a couple of years, until I built my own house with my own massage room and from there I never moved again.
In 2002, I went back to Chiang Mai, took all the other levels with ITM, then researched every school and every Master in Chiang Mai until I found the one who taught what I was interested in.
I am so lucky and so grateful I have had the chance to study with Master Itthidet Manarat (Master Poo). The depth of his knowledge and thoroughness of his teaching made everything I had learnt at ITM look like mare tourist entertainment.
The level of education of some of the courses in Thailand is as low and cheap as the massages are.
Coming back to my story, what I need to add is how life changing a random backpacker’s practice on me has been in my life.
That was the start of my continuous life practice, what I call ‘my path of health and awareness’.
Thai Massage through my 16 years of practice and 14 years of teaching has been my biggest teacher. Like any movement form, it requires lots and gives back lots and it’s a constant exchange that doesn’t ever go only one way.
I have to admit that teaching intensive Thai Massage training has been exactly what made me somehow a Master of this Healing Art. In my own way i have understood and corrected all stretches and techniques to make them most safe, pleasurable and effective through watching my students doing it and receiving a lot from them.
I am so grateful for all this.
For any question, clarification or booking don't hesitate to contact me. Byron Thai Massage School - Valentina Gombi
Phone: +61 419 667319
Office: 76 Sunrise Boulevard, Byron Bay, 2481, NSW, Australia