Howard Evans started working as a massage practitioner in 1992 after a curious and serendipitous preparation. In the mid 1970’s he left school and joined ‘Uhuru’, a worker’s collective in Oxford. As well as serving the local community through a wholefood shop and café, Uhuru was also a centre for local and third world development projects.
After a couple of years of trying to change the world Howard realised the need to change himself. His only tool at the time was a little book called ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’ which inspired him to search for the experience of being in the present whilst working variously as an organic gardener, an oil rig steward and a labourer on a gas pipeline project that was to cut its way across Scotland.
In 1979 Howard set off overland to India. After some wonderful weeks hitch-hiking through Europe he boarded the Magic Bus in Istanbul and soon found himself in Tehran in the midst of the chaos of revolution and then in Afghanistan, violently invaded by Russia and ignored by the rest of the world. The last Magic Bus trip from Istanbul to Delhi ended in a deadly ambush on the road from Herat to Kandahar. This close encounter with death fully woke him to the present and deepened his search for meaning and purpose.
After eight months in India Howard returned to England to study Chinese acupuncture with J R Worsley in Leamington Spa and manage Neals Yard Wholefoods store in London’s Covent Garden. His acupuncture studies led him not into therapy practice but into twelve years of meditation practice under the guidance of some remarkable teachers. During this period he worked as an information systems analyst and studied dance, voice, acting, physical theatre and yoga. This period culminated in his study of Traditional Thai Healing Massage with The School of Oriental Massage.
In 1992 Howard was given a copy of the book ‘Emotional Anatomy’ by Stanley Keleman. Inspired by Keleman’s ideas, he traveled to Belgium to join a five day retreat he was leading. On returning to England Howard started training in integrative psychotherapy at The Minster Centre with luminaries of the body oriented psychotherapy world including Helen Davies and John Rowan. During this time he also worked as a massage practitioner at The Life Centre in Notting Hill Gate.
He then transferred to The Karuna Institute to study core process psychotherapy and encountered his future teacher, Franklyn Sills. It was here at Karuna that Howard came to truly appreciate his skills as a bodyworker. In 1996 he completed a post-graduate training in craniosacral therapy with Franklyn Sills whilst working as a body oriented psychotherapist under the supervision of Dr Brenda Davies, a consultant psychiatrist and healer.
In 1997 Howard completed a Masters Degree in Therapeutic Bodywork at the University of Westminster under the tutelage of Leon Chaitow and Dr David Peters. Howard’s MA thesis discussed the significance of therapeutic listening both from a psychotherapeutic and a craniosacral perspective and suggested the possibility of a ‘memory of health’ to which the patient could reorient, given the right therapeutic relationship.
Since then he has undertaken advanced courses in craniosacral biodynamics with, amongst others, Franklyn Sills and Michael Shea.
Howard still has his copy of ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’. He still aspires to being in the present. He understands just how much that depends on sensation and connection with the body. His therapy work becomes simpler and more effective as that connection with the body is deepened. Like so many before him, Howard has discovered that spiritual experience is a sensation that arises from relaxation and openness, not from words and dogma.
Howard practices craniosacral therapy, Thai Massage and Esalen style massage. Regardless of the technique employed you will benefit from a quality of touch, attention and presence developed over many years of practice, study and teaching.
Howard started teaching in 1994 when he was invited to set up and teach a Thai Yoga Massage course at Morley College, a centre of adult education in London. He also served as a course assessor for the London Open College Network guiding other teachers through the process of course design and accreditation.
In 1997 he was invited to design and teach a course in Thai Yoga Massage at the University of Westminster. This 65 hour course was specifically aimed at students studying at graduate level within the School of Integrated Health at the University but, over the years, attracted students from many other faculties. Howard continued to teach the course at the University until 2006 and during this time trained four assistants who have all gone on to teach independently.
Howard has also taught courses at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, University of Westminster, Morley College, CONFER and Diamond Light Tantra in London; Centro Maxime d’Harroche, Centro de Terapias Manuales and SITEM in Barcelona; AFEDECO and Centro Bettina Papenkort in Malorca; Haber Bodywork and European Gathering – Free Style Thai Massage in Croatia.
Howard has written articles on craniosacral therapy for The Fulcrum (2006) and The Journal of Holistic Healthcare (November 2007).
In 2009 his book ‘A Myofascial Approach to Thai Massage’ was published by Churchill Livingstone with a foreword provided by Leon Chaitow. This groundbreaking book contributed to the emerging appreciation of the importance of connective tissue in health by proposing that the sen lines manipulated in Thai Massage and the nadis stretched and opened in yoga practice are actually myofascial pathways.
In 2011 the 3rd edition of ‘Modern Neuromuscular Techniques’ edited by Leon Chaitow included a chapter written by Howard suggesting that neuromuscular technique (which itself derived from ‘Pranatherapy’ practiced by Dr. Dewanchand Varma) and Thai Massage shared a common origin and aim.
Howard regularly reviews articles for the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies at the request of its Editor, Leon Chaitow. He also reviews proposals and advises the publisher, Handspring Publishing.