Massage in History

In ancient times people lived in tribes and groups where women held babies next to them in slings and packs and touch was constant.  Every member of the village had a role in the survival of the people and helped to care for the babies.  Infant massage is thought to have begun before recorded history as since recorded history it has existed as a common practice among the oldest cultures in the world today.  The first written records began to reference the positive health benefits from massage:

Ancient_Egyptian_massage2700 BC – from China,  1800 BC – from India,  350 to 500 BC – from Egypt, Persia, Japan and Greece, Hippocrates, the father of medicine wrote: “The physician must be experienced in many things but assuredly in rubbing…For rubbing can bind a joint that is too loose and loosen a joint that is too rigid.”

100 BC to 50 AD – from the Romans, Caesar & physician Celsus

Biblical references –  to healing as “laying on of hands” and “anointing with oil”.

1450 to 1600 AD Renaissance from Persia to Italy’s medical schools references to massage and then spreading to other European cities of rising prosperity.

1517-1590 AD French Dr. Ambroise Pare one of the founders of modern surgery, used massage, particularly friction massage, in the treatment of stiff and injured joints.

1776-1839 AD Swedish fencing master and gymnastics teacher Per Henrik Ling designed the Swedish Movement System and Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger, adopted the French names of basic strokes under which he systemized massage as we know it today, as Swedish or classic massage.

Mid 1800’s to mid 1900’s – Many behaviorists, from Luther Emmett Holt, John Watson, to Dr. Benjamin Spock recommended less handling of babies in favor of training them to master schedules of eating and sleeping.  During the nineteenth century, many babies died of Marasmus, a wasting away generally by neglect and as a result Dr. Fritz Talbot in 1910 changed the care of babies in german hospitals in favor of handling, carrying, and rocking babies.  “Tender Loving Care” in the children’s clinic in Dusseldorf , Germany found that babies who were rocked after nursing generally had less colic, intestinal spasm, and became happier babies than those who remained in their beds without rocking.

1957 – Dr. Harry Harlow’s studies showed baby monkeys preferred a soft cloth artificial mother to food from a wire artificial mother.  Since then, numerous studies with human babies have repeatedly shown the benefits of touch, carrying, rocking and massage.

At Family Massage Education Center, massage for the entire family is our passion! We offer several classes for families to learn, in a nurturing and encouraging environment, how to help each other give and receive the many benefits of massage. Check out our schedule to find a class just right for you. Call us at 541-482-3567 to register.


June Classes

Call 541-482-3567 to register for our public education classes.

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Vitaflex I

Instructor: JoAnn Lewis, LMT
This most ancient form of massage is known for its easy finger rolling method that simultaneously energizes and releases nerve and muscle tension.  Reflexes open the gateway to healing beginning with the feet and hands and including a complete body routine that is easily adapted to any situation or condition. This specialized finger-curling technique is effortless and stimulating for the giver and receiver and is the most relaxing and rejuvenating of all the ancient methods of bodywork.  It is older than acupuncture and has similarities to Thai and Shiatsu in reflexology, working over 5000 acupuncture points.  $225.00

Saturday – Sunday, April 2-3

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

77 Manzanita St.

Ashland, OR 97520

Call 541-482-3567 to register


Nurturing Touch: vital health traditions!

by JoAnn Lewis, LMT, CEIM, USA Trainer – Int’l Assoc. of Infant Massage
Family Massage Education Center, Ashland, OR
TOUCH: our first language in life is the most developed sense at birth and the last to leave us when we pass. We identify ourselves, each other and our world by touch. We communicate primarily by touch and body language; sixty percent of all that we do each day!
Logically, massage as positive touch with respect and permission is the most powerful form of communication. Historically, it has been “handed” down from family to family for centuries of village cultures in some form of daily tradition. This was and is a common, standard practice as normal as bathing, sleeping, eating and greeting each other with a handshake, hug or nose rub.
Have we lost this traditional way to basic health and happiness? What has the lack of connection done to our society?
From old cultures of hourly, daily interaction to our industrialized go-to-a-job and don’t touch anyone, we find that attitudes have changed out of fear and lack of touch. How do we bring positive interaction back to common sense? We all know we need it as a basic human, scientific, evidence-based need. We all know it means love, security and health. Often our fondest memories are of the best nurturing touch.
Imagine for a moment, our children and grandchildren are learning and playing in cooperative circle games on the playground. Or are they standing in line, pushing each other over? We can redo the beginnings of negative or even violent reactions by teaching how to touch carefully with permission and respect. Let’s see how we can do this to the best of our ability.
Let’s ASK permission. Sounds simple, yes? When we put our own hands together and rub them to become warm, showing that warmth to each other and asking if we can do massage with someone, similar to shaking an outstretched hand in greeting,
it starts the unspoken language of respect and care. Patiently, persistently, we find the way to be together in touch, especially at birth!
Research studies now show us that massage for babies (and adults) will calm and integrate the nervous system, increase the myelination (coating) on the nerves so they function to the brain and increase IQ, motor skills, hand-eye and right-left coordination. As body-mind connections then increase, so does bonding and attachment, social skills with trust and respect to lessen anxiety and build trust. And as massage regulates digestive to relieve gas, constipation, waste elimination, it builds stronger, toned muscles and ligaments. It stimulates hormones for better digestion, growth, and immunity; eliciting responses of soothing, nurturing behavior and reducing violent, negative reactions. Who wants a healthier, stronger, smarter baby?
Massage reduces pain, relieves aches and soreness, and is the fastest way to reduce inflammation, decrease blood pressure and tone the skin and muscles as the best in exercise for the body and mind. To experience this pleasurable, one-to-one interaction of the highest quality of touch builds trust, self-esteem and confidence.
This is life at its best! This is what we can give with our own two, relaxed hands with proper body mechanics (no force) with ease and calm, gentle, playful communication. Let’s build the kind of world we would really like to live in.
Pass massage traditions on to build strong family and community bonds and traditions for generations to come. You and your family deserve massage, to learn it well, and to live truly well-adjusted, healthy, happy lives through the art and science of nurturing touch.



Benefits of Massage

There is much research showing the benefits of massage. Many are listed below:


To experience these and possibly more benefits, contact Family Massage Education Center at 541-482-3567.

Additionally, we offer several classes to teach you how to give in home massage to your loved ones. Visit our website at to select a class that’s right for you.

Classes in August

Summer time is the best time to spend time with family and friends! We have multiple ways to encourage nurturing touch. See our options below:

MONDAYS and TUESDAYS: Singles/Partners Home Massage Series.  Embrace FUN and self-healing for all. Reclaim your health and restore loving care, confident discovery touch and massage, body mechanics and find authenticity with others who also enjoy receiving and learning.  Cost is $145/person or $225/pair.

WEDNESDAY: Pregnant Partner Home Massage Series.  Learn to relieve discomforts, improve labor, speed recovery and balance hormones to find a calmer, easier birth experience and for the health, safety and happiness of mom and baby. Massage can soothe, restore, and reclaim communication and relaxation for all. Cost is $145/pair.

THURSDAYS and FRIDAYS: Introduction to Basic Home Massage. Explore the world of massage and understand how it can be beneficial and fun for YOU to do at home! Improve your loving relationships with respect and trustful communication. Fun, enjoyable and relaxing instruction! Cost is $37/person or $55/pair

SATURDAYS: Parent-Baby Massage Series. Two Options: 1030am-12pm or 6-730pm.  Parent-Baby Massage Class is a weekly, 90 min, class for 5 weeks, baby-led in a progressive sequence for parent and baby to easily learn a complete routine.  We welcome babies in any mood and respect their needs. Complete this ancient, traditional life skill to help babies for a lifetime of learning their bodies and themselves
and being able to care for themselves, you and others. Cost is $125/series/per family.
Siblings & grandparents welcome!

Register for any class at or call 541-482-3567 for more information. All of us at Family Massage Education Center look forward to partnering with you as you add nurturing touch in your life. StaffPicSmall



International Day of Infant Massage and Nurturing Touch

June 7th is recognized by the International Association of Infant Massage as the International Day of Infant Massage and Nurturing Touch. We believe wholeheartedly in the importance of infant massage; there are so many benefits to the family!

According to Touch Research Institute, “Infants and toddlers with sleep onset problems were given daily massages by their parents for 15 minutes prior to bedtime for one month. Based on parent diaries, the massaged versus the control children (who were read bedtime stories) showed fewer sleep delay behaviors and had a shorter latency to sleep onset by the end of the study. Forty-five minute behavior observations by an independent observer also revealed more time awake, alert, and active; and more positive affect in the massaged children by the end of the study.” Field, T., & Hernandez-Reif, M,. (2001). Sleep problems in infants decrease following massage therapy. Early Child Development and Care, 168, 95-104

From Dr. Marshall Klaus, MD (Pediatrician and Neonatalogist, co-editor of Care of the High-Risk Infants, Your Amazing Newborn, and Bonding: Building a Secure Attachment and Independence: “I am familiar with the advantages of infant massage and skin to skin contact for both the growing premature infant and the full term infant. These techniques help the parents build a bond with their premature and full term baby. The International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) is especially skilled in teaching this technique to parents. Infant massage is very useful in calming infants and enhancing growth.”

To celebrate a day that promotes a cause we are passionate about, we are asking graduates of our Parent-Baby Class to help us share the love of infant massage. For the month of June, we are having a fun contest, here are the rules:

  1. Find Family Massage Education Center on Facebook, here’s the link: HERE
  2. Write a review about your experience, either during class, or after.
  3. Tag a friend of yours in your review or comments, who you think would benefit from the Parent-Baby Class.
  4. If your friend signs up for the Parent-Baby class, you will be entered into a drawing to receive a FREE One Hour Massage.
  5. The more friends you refer to a Parent-Baby class, the more entries you have in drawing for the FREE One Hour Massage.
  6. Contest ends Friday, June 30th, winner announced on July 3, 2017.

Because Father’s Day is also in June, we’re including results from a study involving fathers who massage their babies: “Infants were given massages by their fathers for 15 minutes prior to their daily bedtime for one month. By the end of the study, the fathers who massaged their infants were more expressive and showed more enjoyment and more warmth during floor-play interactions with their infants.” Cullen, C., Field, T., Escalona, A. and Hartshorn, K. (2000) Father-infant interactions are enhanced by massage therapy. Early Child Development and Care,. 164, 41-47.

Dads, enjoy closer bonding and enjoyment of your infant by joining the Parent-Baby series of in home massage. The next session begins June 24th. Call 541-482-3567 to register, or sign up online at our website.


Free Parent-Baby Massage Class

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Parents who are curious about our Parent-Baby classes often cite a lack of funds as the number one reason they don’t sign up for the five weeks series taught on Saturdays at Family Massage Education Center. For those parents, here’s an opportunity to test out a class for free. Please call us at 541-482-3567 to get signed up. Please share this post with anyone in the Southern Oregon area who has an infant less than a year old.

The International Conference in Paris


The International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) hosted the 24th annual international educational conference and general assembly from October 24th to November 1st. There were over 200 people from around the world who attended. “I had the great honor and pleasure of being one of the attendees at the trainers’ meeting with 50+ trainers from all over the world,” as stated by JoAnn Lewis, founder and educator at Family Massage Education Center (FMEC).

The IAIM’s mission is “to promote nurturing touch and communication through training, education and research so that parents, caregivers and children are loved, valued and respected throughout the world community.” IAIM is the largest and most experienced infant massage organization in the world with a presence in more than 50 countries. Here’s a map that shows the location of chapters around the world.

“Attending the Trainers’ Meeting during the International Conference gave me an opportunity to contribute to the mission on an international level. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the training meeting was the stroke review session in Paris. Sitting on the floor with fellow instructors, sharing our passion for infant massage, and encouraging each other was truly gratifying. Here we are, doing the stroke review,” said JoAnn.


During the rest of the year, as the founder of Family Massage Education Center, JoAnn has the privilege of sharing this mission on a local level in Ashland, Oregon. Additionally, she teaches IAIM’s Certified Educator of Infant Massage course in various locations in the Pacific Northwest and in California. In fact, JoAnn will be in Portland, Oregon, from March 17-20, 2017 teaching the CEIM course at East-West College located at 525 NE Oregon St., Portland, OR 97232. To register for that training, you may contact Lauren Haight, Continuing Education Coordinator, at 503-233-6500 or by email at

In the spring, JoAnn will be teaching in Ashland, Oregon from May 5-9, 2017. To register, you may contact Family Massage Education Center at 541-482-3567, by email at or register online.


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