What is Esalen® Massage & Integrative Bodywork?



Esalen® Massage

It’s not uncommon for someone to complete a 28-day residential Esalen® massage certification course and leave saying, “that was fantastic, but… what exactly is Esalen massage?” Brita Ostrom, of the Esalen Massage and Bodywork Association puts it best:

“At the heart of the session is a sense of empowering each individual to regain a sense of harmony, reverence, and balance, and to awaken inner resources for healing. It is not unusual to hear, ‘That was the most amazing massage I’ve ever received.'”

Esalen massage is a flowing, fluid, integrated bodywork experience – bespoke, intuitive, spontaneous, and truly effective.

4030243Integrative Bodywork

Flowing Esalen massage is the foundation form, as various bodywork techniques, such as craniosacral and reiki therapies, shiatsu, thai, and sports massage, myofascial release and deep tissue massage are blended fluidly and seamlessly to meet the specific needs of your body. The integrative approach works through the subconscious reflexes of the body and with the inherent intelligence of the body’s connective tissue network. The work naturally reflects areas of resistance and hyper-tension, allowing you to consciously reset the baseline of tension in your body and calmly re-centre.

the practice

Anyone who has a body will benefit greatly from this work. The beauty of this practice is that it (and I) will meet you exactly where you are. You can set an intention to work very specifically or broadly, or simply enjoy the deep relaxation and sensuous celebration that comes from honouring the body through this rich practice.

Because what I do is unique in the UK, I’ve become what you might call a therapist’s therapist. I love practicing with other professionals and lay practitioners!



Clients have said: 


“It is ‘hypnotism’ for the body.”

“I felt a sense of ‘active relaxation, versus collapsing into bed and not really resting.”

“I have to say, your treatment is probably about as close to the womb as I think I’ll ever get in this lifetime!” 

“Ayres, banana! What a fab treatment. Have been waiting many years for your level of work.” 

“The best massage I’ve ever had… that was real bodywork.” 

“That wasn’t a massage. That was an experience.” 

“I felt challenged and met… and truly held.” 


love this




sessions and fees

about Ayres Gipson, CMT


What is Cosmic Bodies?

“As a practicing massage therapist, I have undergone many trainings and workshops over the last 6 years but Cosmic Bodies has certainly been my favourite thus far. With the perfect infusion of structural healing and energy work, Cosmic Bodies will rock your world!” ~  Fleur Handley, massage therapist & energy healer

4323489I’m reluctant to say what Cosmic Bodies is, really.  If you’ve read the ‘official’ description of one of my other loves, Esalen® massage, you may have gathered that I like my healing systems kind of…  unspeakable.

I’ve also felt my own wonder at how the Cosmic Bodies concept has organically and with ever-positive synchronicity, unfolded.

A couple of years ago, after a particularly epic dance of a session, Jude, at that time a fairly new client said, quite matter-of-factly, ‘I want to do what you do. Teach me what you do.’  I think it was the way she insisted that led me to believe that I could, or should(?) share and pass on what I do.4323297

After a decade of teaching and assisting instruction in professional qualification and various CPD modalities, I had not been in the classroom for a few years.  In the meantime, I had delved deeply into the kinaesthetic and intuitive (inner tuition) aspects of my own massage practice.  So I asked Jude to help me figure out just what ‘what I do’ is.

I had some ideas; she had a few more, and she gave them a name: Cosmic Bodies. It stuck.

4323446The word ‘cosmic’ is the emphatic of ‘cosmos’ – meaning ‘order or system.’  The ‘body’ is a soft and knobbly, somewhat (or very!) furry, warm-blooded animal that responds readily and positively to careful attention and responsive touch, and will often wither or even die unless carefully attended to and touched quite often.

In practice, the intention is always to be invoking a safe, inclusive, and open space where the individuality of the person, intelligence of the body, and consciousness of the tissues can be met with ease.

From here, we use 5 approaches that help us to become3465764 aware of a five-element healing system that is already present in the work that we do, and designed into the bodies we touch.

To satisfy the more philosophical amongst us, every course comes with a complimentary slice of cosmology pie.  We will at times discuss how layers of compacted reality and a conditional framework lie at the centre of this practice and at the root of all of the conditions – ailments and injuries, recovery and healing – that we treat and support.


And then we might do some of this.


Or this.

Outcome-based, yet

infinitely open…

“The course was amazing. A few more golden pieces to add to my holistic healing system. I came away invigorated and inspired.” ~  Dan Collins, holistic healer

Cosmic Bodies ~ West Wales Workshop & Retreat ~ August 2017

email: ayres@lovingforaliving.org

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Bristol Massage & Bodywork

Esalen® Massage & Integrative Bodywork with Ayres is coming to Clifton, Bristol

Sat 10 – Tues 13 February, 2018
Sat 24 – Weds 28 February, 2018

To book sessions call/text 07848 008 089 or email: ayres@lovingforaliving.org

I am thrilled to be getting back to the Bath and Bristol area to continue this work there.  I’ve been re-connecting with past clients and colleagues.

Looking forward to working with you soon!

Ayres  O

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New Practice @ Narberth Natural Health

Hello Residents of magical Dyfed!  As of this Thursday, 8 December, I will be in regular practice at the Narberth Natural Health Centre, Pembrokeshire SA67 7AX.


My main day will be Monday, with occasional Thursday sessions.

Sessions are available from £35 for an hour Insight, £45 for an Integrative session, and £65 for a deeply indulgent, Deep Integration session.

So grateful to Bethan Morgan for the opportunity and for encouraging me along into it.

Cosmic Bodies Revealed!

“Hi Ayres,  I just wanted to say a massive thank you for sharing your knowledge, love and skill with us during Cosmic Bodies.  I am so inspired, truly… I wanted to also say that this is the way I aspire to give massage… it is a wonderful way to communicate to another person. “

Another enlightening and nourishing Cosmic Bodies is behind us with lots to integrate and ponder.

“Hi Ayres,  Thanks again for your amazing massage last week.  It has carried me through the week and [my partner] is really happy I attended the course!!!”

A massive thank you to Jude Claybourne for your dedication, reflection, support, and inspiration to get ‘out there’ in my thinking and teaching practice.  So loving this work and very much in the flow of it.  In 17 years of practice, I have never felt this empowered and ‘knowing’ within the work – embodying a confidence and a stamina that is so obviously beyond little me.

In short, there will definitely be more Cosmic Bodies.  I can see hosting further playshops in Narberth and Bath and beyond, retreats in Wales, England, and abroad.  I envision symposium gatherings of body and light workers sharing their approaches, practices, and experiences.  And of course, lots of delicious and healing contact.

My vision of a retreat and healing space on the land here is still unfolding.  Big and exciting changes afoot…

I want you to join us!  I’ll share some bits of feedback and response that we exchanged after the course, which you may find interesting for your own practice.  And perhaps it might entice you to attend the next gathering.

Firstly, I am constantly amazed and enlightened by how these playshops create themselves through all of the participants.  It is in this spontaneous play and witnessing of positive synchronicity that the true work and healing of Cosmic Bodies resides.

“Hi guys

Thank you for an amazing few days. I really feel blessed to be part of this group. I have been having some amazing results with clients and have been visiting some very deep places with them. Combining massage and energy work.

Ayres I have looked at my notes and you have covered most things on my list.
I would like to talk fascia when we next meet. You truly are amazing.

Lots of love”

Thank you all for taking part.  Great work, excellent feedback, and a clear progression and direction in the teaching – love it!

The word ‘cosmic’, far from the airy-fairy, hippy-dippy images it may conjure, literally means: ordered.  I can now clearly see Cosmic Bodies structuring itself as a five element system – ether/presence, fire/proprioceptive play, earth/point work, air/myo-facial unwinding, water/integrative massage.  I have focused primarily on the most ‘accessible’ three – ether/I am, fire/I do, and water/I embody – because they are fun and most obviously interactive, and therefore easiest to demonstrate and observe.  We can generally get the most out of our relatively minuscule 2-3 days with these elements.  And what we get, especially with the One Stroke of the integrative massage can simply go on and on forever…..

I remember now in both playshops saying that I would ‘eventually get to’ more point work (earth/I feel) and myo-facial unwinding (air/I know).  Of course, it’s through this process of translating ‘what I do’ that I realise the most difficult aspects to demonstrate and observe are my feelings and my knowing, and exactly how I apply these in practice.  That definitely comes through in other ways, as we are always weaving these five elements together, no matter what we do.

How we bring all five elements in more fully may be a matter of having more time (perhaps 5-7 days in total), or doing ‘advanced’ workshops where we really get into earth-pointed grounding action, as well as ‘hook up’  with the connective tissue in that unwinding airspace.  These really are only slightly differing levels of consciousness, perhaps different channels?  Languages?  For someone who is, for example, an already skilled energy/light worker, they are simply, literally, attuning to different frequencies within our accessible bandwidth.  This spectrum is potentially vast, vast, vast, and actually includes the frequencies of flesh!  The reverberations of the language of fascia…

I’m sure we’ll continue to find creative and playful ways to get stuck in.  I just keep doing my little little trick, which is showing up with this little little knowing, and It happens.  That is this embodied cosmology at work.

I’ll be seeing you at the next gathering!


Cosmic Bodies Nov 8th-10th

Those of you that read the bumf from the first CB may recall what the inspiration has been for my re-entry into the realm of bodywork education.  Jude, a client and colleague, insisted in her ever-inspiring way that I show her ‘what I do’.  What I do…  Well, this is that exploration.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this Work, but we call this a series of playshops, as we are playing with the resilience and fluidity of bodies and playing with a bit ‘out there’ ideas.

I dug out one of Jude’s early emails and found this very clear vision and mission statement:

“Ultimately in my mind, the content of what we do should be what you’re inspired to share with a bunch of people who already do bodywork (and maybe energy work too – I’d suggest that some kind of practice that involves touch). I’ll tell you some of the things I thought I’d like too.

I Want Your Moves:
During the session, I remembered the things you do that I would be clumsy and awkward doing. They include:
* messing about with limbs, moving them into different positions, keeping people covered while you do this.
* the thing where you put your arm underneath the back and support the head like you would an infant’s… that’s lovely, that is.
* lots of other moves that you find pleasing to do or to receive
There’s also something about being strong enough to do some of these and looking after my own body while I do them that it would be interesting to discuss.

Cosmology Pie
I want to hear about your system and how it comes about, how you work with your energy in yourself and in partnership with the person you’re playing with. I want to see pictures and feel it in my body, and to explore your juicy ideas about reality and their relevance to this work. There’s definitely…  discussions that will happen about how that particular dance works, I’d say, which leads me to:”

Cosmic Bodies – Going Deeper

Following the resounding and very juicy success of the last Cosmic Bodies workshop, we’re doing another.

It’s a cosmic body playshop for people who already practice bodywork or energy work and want to refresh your ideas and practice, learn new moves and build confidence in order to be able to give more deeply as a bodyworker and healer.

New Oriel Hall, Larkhall, Bath

with Ayres Gipson and Jude Claybourne

8th-10th November,  10:30am – 6pm

£185 for 3 full and indulgent days of deep bodywork practice

Includes discounts on one-to-one Cosmic Body sessions with Ayres and Jude 6th and 7th November in Bath and Bristol.

Please bring lunch or food to share.  Tasty snacks and drinks provided.

Contact jude.claybourne@yahoo.co.uk to book.

We’ll work with energetic practices, a cosmic philosophy of bodywork and lots of fine ways to treat a body. You’ll give and receive some excellent treatments for three full days. Why would you want to be anywhere else?

Feedback from the last Cosmic Bodies :

“What Ayres shares is authenticity, superb natural skill, undying love of the subject, and the confidence to explore bodywork in a creative, intuitive, playful way. I came away hugely inspired, with new ‘moves’ to play with, and the feeling that I want to come back for MORE PLEASE!”  ~  Sophie Shenstone, yoga teacher & bodyworker

“The course was amazing. A few more golden pieces to add to my holistic healing system. I came away invigorated and inspired.” ~  Dan Collins, holistic healer

“The ‘Cosmic Bodies’ workshop is a wonderful opportunity for  experienced bodyworkers to add something very special to their practice: the art of connectivity, flow, presence and completion. Your work from here on in will be bound together seamlessly with a power and magic you haven’t known until now. This workshop will set you on the right course in aspiring to mastery of the art. Cosmic Bodies: Finishing School for Bodyworkers!” ~  Grant Baldwin, massage therapist

“As a practicing massage therapist, I have undergone many trainings and workshops over the last 6 years but Cosmic Bodies has certainly been my favourite thus far. With the perfect infusion of structural healing and energy work, Cosmic Bodies will rock your world!” ~  Fleur Handley, massage therapist & energy healer

“2-handed, 4-handed, 6-handed massage…?  Is this legal?!  Loving it.  We’ve got to do more of these.” ~  Ayres Gipson, CMT

Ayres Gipson

Ayres gives life-changing massages and has been treating bodies to good times for many, many years. He’s a California boy, and he has more bodywork influences than you can shake a stick at, including flowing, intuitive and deeply healing Esalen® massage. A massage from him feels like a rebirth. Developing your skills with him will change the way you look at caring for a body with bodywork.

Jude Claybourne

Jude brings years of intuitive massage, energetic healing work and gentle holding with touch, words and energy.

Treat Your Body

Ayres and Jude are offering bodywork sessions on 6th and 7th November, in Bath (tbc) and Easton, Bristol. We’re offering 90 minute and 150 minute sessions (2-hour/3-hour slots) with a solo therapist, or treat yourself to a tandem (4-hand) session with Jude and Ayres.

Discounted rates for course attendees. Let us know when you book if you’re interested.

Cosmic Bodies July 19th-21st

Oh, Lawdy, Lawdy!  I’ve gone and got myself a blog.  Who was it said, ‘never give a megaphone to man on acid’?

Anyway, not here to talk about that.  It’s Cosmic Bodies time!  The lovely Jude Claybourne – client, friend, and colleague – has dragged me back into the world of bodywork tuition by insisting that I teach her what I do.  What is that?!  Well, this is what she’s come up with.  I do hope you can come along!  Booking details below:

Cosmic Bodies

Bodywork for bodyworkers, with Ayres Gipson

July 19-21st, Godney, near Glastonbury

19th 7pm-9pm

20th 10am-6pm

21st 9am-5pm

Ayres gives stunning massages, long and connected, inspired by many different practices. Since having my first massage with him, I’ve wanted to learn more about what he does and how he does it, and to get in on some of those moves.

To do that, I’ve invited him to come to our lovely farmhouseish home and workshop space to share some techniques and practices over a few days. It’s a cosmic body play-shop for people who already practice bodywork/energy work and want to learn some new moves, share what they do and be deliciously loved and massaged by others.

We’ll work with energetic practices, cosmic philosophy and lots of fine ways to treat a body. You’ll give and receive some excellent treatments. Why would you want to be anywhere else?

Contribution: £125

As well as the bodyworkness itself, this includes breakfast and lunch both full days.

We’d encourage you to camp/caravan at Garslade Farm Campsite down the road (from £12) or stay at one the many B&Bs/Airbnbs in Glastonbury (2 miles) or Wells (4 miles).

What to bring:

A notebook if you want one, clothes you can massage and move in, a meditation cushion and layers. Chilled out music on a USB (optional)

Dietary requirements:

For simplicity’s sake, food is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and for the most part organic. You are welcome to bring anything you want to eat that doesn’t fit in that category. Even a Pepperami.

On the middle evening, we’ll eat at The Sheppey, a lovely, tasty pub down the road. Budget about £15 for a meal.

If you have serious allergies or other requirements, please let us know.

Getting here:

We’re at Garslade Cottage, Godney Road, Godney, Wells, BA5 1RX

To drive, use your satnav. On public transport from London, travel to Bristol, then get the 376 bus to Wells from Bristol Bus Station or near Temple Meads Train Station. Takes an hour, costs £5.50. We’ll pick you up from Wells if you let us know the time.

Alternatively, get a bus to Glastonbury or Street and we can pick you up from there.

Ayres Gipson

In case you haven’t yet had the pleasure of Ayres, he has been treating bodies to good times with excellent bodywork for many, many years. He’s a California boy, and he has more bodywork influences than you can shake a stick at, including Esalen-style. A massage from him feels like a rebirth, and wouldn’t it be great to create that experience for others too.

Contact Jude for booking and info:

Jude Claybourne
Coach, Communication & Play Specialist
Member of the Institute of Coaches


07880 540096

TEDx: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuZrSqveOw4