Esalen Massage and Sexuality

topic posted Tue, September 2, 2008 - 11:45 AM by  Unsubscribed
Hello all...boy it's been awhile. I've shifted into a new location so I've been laying low. ...miss talking with you lovely peeps. I'm interested in hearing some takes on a particular question. My friend and I have recently come across many clients looking for Esalen Massage. I use many techniques I believe that are similar in that they are long flowing and more complete. However...some particular clients have stated that there is a sexual piece to Esalen in that genitals are part of the experience. I was wondering if any of you that practioce Esalen could clear up what a session entails and if it's sexually driven, or if people are using Esalen as a code for prostitution possibly ...just trying to figure it all out. Hope you are all well....Love Joy
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  • Re: Esalen Massage and Sexuality

    Tue, September 2, 2008 - 1:56 PM
    Traditionally Esalen massage is done
    outdoors in the nude. To qualify as an
    Esalen massage therapist and use the
    name, you must have a cert from Esalen.
    There is a psycho-spiritual and emotional
    component to Esalen massage. I don't
    think it excludes sexuality, but it is certainly
    not sexual. Ask Zeke about it.
  • Re: Esalen Massage and Sexuality

    Tue, September 2, 2008 - 4:58 PM
    I have taken a massage class at Esalen and I have watched the Esalen massage video, but I am not a certified practitioner. You have it right as far as long flowing strokes but it is not sexual. Americans often confuse nudity and/or minimal draping with sexuality so I suspect that that is where the confusion comes from. They often drape with just a small towel over the bum (face down) and pubic area (face up). In my training we were taught that the genitals, anus and nipples were off limits. We did massage in and around and through the breasts in order to get to the pecs but we were advised that stimulating the nipples took it out of the massage arena and turned it in to something else. I hope that helps.
    • Unsu...

      Re: Esalen Massage and Sexuality

      Tue, November 18, 2008 - 10:26 PM
      I'm heading down there for a Deep Tissue workshop. What do the students or participants usually wear during these? I usually wear a bikini but I guess that wouldn't fly, right?

      • Re: Esalen Massage and Sexuality

        Wed, November 19, 2008 - 2:36 PM
        I don't think a bikini would be a problem other than you might be cold. The class that I took there was in a large tent right next to the ocean and not really heated as I recall. I just remember people wearing whatever was comfortable, t-shirts, shorts, sweat pants etc. You will spend part of the time nude as your partner works on you so whatever is easy to take off and put on. When I was there they gave us the option of disrobing behind a sheet that yor partner holds up.
        • Unsu...

          Re: Esalen Massage and Sexuality

          Wed, November 19, 2008 - 11:18 PM
          Thanks. I really excited about it. I took a DT workshop at Body Electric with Chester, and am really curious about the Esalen approach to DT.
  • Re: Esalen Massage and Sexuality

    Fri, September 12, 2008 - 12:23 AM
    No, there is no sexual aspect to Esalen massage. See the Esalen Massage & Bodywork Association code of ethics here:

    Mark is correct that in order to advertise yourself as an Esalen practitioner, you must have a certification from Esalen (I am a certified Esalen practitioner, though I've let my EMBA membership lapse). I've heard it said, though not by anyone in any official capacity, that one of the reasons Esalen trademarked the name and started to require certification was because a few people were starting to use it as a code for sexual services.

    You'll find that the massage crew at Esalen practices fully clothed and does drape, even though the massage/bathing area itself is clothing-optional and hence the draping is more for warmth/security/sunblock than actual modesty. There may have been a time in the past where some practitioners in that location worked in the nude, but if so that time is past, and it's definitely not an element of Esalen work itself.

    The Esalen video will give you some idea of the long, flowing strokes that are one signature of the Esalen style, but take it with a few grains of salt -- it's pleasant and relaxing, but in many way more marketing than real training. I know at least one teacher appearing in the video who still rolls his eyes in disgust over unprofessional things the director had them do in the video for theatrical purposes (such as a scene where one practitioner allows her long hair to drag on a client).
    • Re: Esalen Massage and Sexuality

      Mon, September 15, 2008 - 5:15 PM
      Funny, at Harbin massage school they make us wear clothes, even though it's a nudist resort. I guess we weren't forced to make tent sheets and undress on the tables with enforced false modesty like the city....
      I've never heard anything sensual coming from Esalen.
      • Unsu...

        Re: Esalen Massage and Sexuality

        Tue, October 14, 2008 - 6:40 AM
        Thanks everyone....I think a lot of people are either using the Esalen name for code for "sexual pleasures" or some are performing it differently to appeal to a larger crowd if you know what I mean. No I haven't moved to Cali, but it's still a desire. I just moved to the city in Massachusetts where I'm making a ton more money with my private practice. I'm thinking of relocating to Cali possibly in one year. I've also toyed with the idea of doing a work/study program at Esalen Institute. Who knows what the future holds....
  • Re: Esalen Massage and Sexuality

    Mon, January 12, 2009 - 10:54 AM
    I took a Esalen massage class from Ellen Watson (you can see her on the video). To advertise as an Esalen practitioner, you have to have the certification as the name is copyrighted. However, according to Ellen, you can advertise that you do Esalen-Inspired massage. Esalen is as much a mindset as it is a massge style. It is going where your intuition tells you, and doing what you feel needs to be done. It is not like say Temple Lomi where there is a routine to follow.

    Now, there is no sexual component to Esalen, however, because of its history, there might be some thought that there is. First off, Esalen can be done from full draping to no draping. Obviously, the less draping allows more of the long stroke movements along the length of the body. Back in the 60s and 70s, Esalen was done at the institute with no draping, and most of the therapists used to go nude as well. This changed when the local law entities found out and told them to wear clothes or they would have to license under adult entertainment.

    Seeing this, I can understand why someone would think it is sexual, but it is not. I know that someone around here used to practice this, and who knew what went on behind the closed door. It is a perception, and one that too many people looking for a quickie gravitate to. but there is no sexual component to it. Admittedly, any massage can become sensual, but still not be sexual.

    Hope this helps.

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