Sunny Klaber van der Star, BS, MS, RMT Executive Director
I received my very first Thai Yoga Massage in August of 2001. I had arrived in Thailand following a two-month journey through northern India, and I was a wreck! My body felt entirely depleted of energy, yet my nervous system was on overdrive. My body needed deep rest, but I was too out of balance to unwind on my own.
During that fateful Thai Yoga Massage treatment in 2001, I felt my body slowly unravel and sink into the earth. My breathing deepened, and my veins began to tingle with fresh awareness and a growing sense of vitality. My perception of time and space dissolved and I found myself suspended in the deepest state of relaxation that I had ever achieved. I was hooked!
As a result of this profound experience, I dedicated the next decade of my life to learning, practicing and teaching the art of Thai Yoga Massage. My desire to share this work and better understand the true nature of healing, led me all over the globe. Along the way I enjoyed the privilege of sharing the methods and magic of Thai Yoga Massage with homeless single mothers in south London; low-caste young women in Bodhgaya, India; rural villagers in central Tibet; Tsunami survivors in southern Thailand; high school students in a favela in Rio de Janeiro; GBLT teens in Boulder, Colorado; and traditional healers from a variety of tribes across the southwestern united states. I was also blessed with opportunities to introduce Thai Yoga Massage curriculums at several institutions including the Boulder College of Massage Therapy, Cortiva Institute, The Center for Massage and Natural Health, and the Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy.
Years spent observing my clients’, my students’ and my own responses to this work, have left me with a profound respect and appreciation for this ancient healing art. It has become clear to me that there is something universally soothing, grounding and healing about Thai Yoga Massage’s rhythmic rocking, gentle compression, supported stretches and message of compassion. Everyone involved walks away feeling more embodied, connected, and nourished. What a gift!
Over the years, Thai Yoga Massage has distinguished itself as a simple and effective way to promote relaxation, mobility and peace of mind. It has recently become a popular choice on spa menus, and is beginning to gain recognition in yoga communities, and with a growing number of athletes. But in my estimation, Thai Yoga Massage is still in its infancy. We still have a long way to go before Thai Yoga Massage is a household word, and before practitioners have fully mastered the multitude of ways in which these simple sacred principles can effectively address common imbalances, and treat a growing number of modern illnesses.
In 2004, when I gave birth to Integral Travel, it was my dream to create a medium that would catalyze the evolution of Thai Yoga Massage, and help it find its place in mainstream culture. I hoped that by creating a safe, supportive environment where people could come together, experiment, share insights, and be inspired by the possibilities of this ancient art, we could help Thai Yoga Massage develop beyond its current scope, and fulfill its potential to improve the quality of life of people all over the globe.
So far it has been a dream come true. Integral Travel, and more recently, the Integral Touch Institute Certification Program, have quickly become a wellspring of creativity and innovation, and emerged as an industry leader in Thai Yoga Massage education. Our unique curriculum continues to attract exceptionally inspired instructors and students who are committed to understanding and honoring the sacred roots and rituals of Thai Yoga Massage, while actively participating in its evolution.
The fact that you are reading this page means that you are one of those exceptional individuals. Thank you for answering the call to explore the methods and magic of Thai Yoga Massage, and for promising to promote its gifts far and wide. I hope that you find great insight and deep satisfaction along the way!
With joyful anticipation,
Sunny earned a BS in geology from Duke University, an MS in geology and environmental policy from the University of Colorado and a massage certificate from the Boulder College of Massage Therapy. She has also completed courses of study in Thai Yoga Massage at several institutions in Chiang Mai, Thailand including the Institute for Thai Massage, Nerve Touch, The Fine Art of Thai Massage, the Sunshine School, the Tao Garden, and Ohm Sala. When she is not leading Integral Travel journeys, Sunny offers Thai Yoga Massage through her private practice in Boulder, Colorado (Boulder Thai Yoga Massage), runs the Zia Project (an organization dedicated to promoting healing arts education in marginalized and displaced communities around the world) and enjoys spending time with her husband Thierry and her twins, Zia and Zephyr.