Review: Moving Mountain Institute Craniosacral Certificate Course

Moving Mountain Institute recently reformatted its Craniosacral course track into a 9 month long or so cohort style certificate program. It meets basically once a month for two days then has an online component. I signed up going in pretty blind as to what to expect. I really couldn't have guessed how much the class would shape my practice and how I approach bodywork.

I initially heard about the Moving Mountain Institute while working at the University Of Natural Medicine. It was where most naturopaths and acupuncturists from the school learn Craniosacral. Everyone raved about Michael, the founder and main teacher, for his skill in bodywork and teaching.

I had not met or heard of any massage therapists who had learned from him though and was hesitant. Most LMTs end up in the Upledger path. It is where I did my initial training and I wasn't enamored with the training to be honest. I had a blast at the actual course, but it had limitations when applied. We were told how to do craniosacral within the confines of a strict protocol. It felt rigid, without the ability to gauge what a client needs and cater a treatment around them. I also did not get a strong grasp of the whys of what I did and hows to analyze what I was feeling. It left me wanting more and feeling like I didn't fit into the Upledger model of how to practice Craniosacral, even if I took more of their courses. I want to bring everything I know into a session with a client, not just be restricted to one tool.

Moving Mountains taught me how to implement Craniosacral into my overall massage practice. I now do some craniosacral in almost every session, maybe 5 minutes, maybe 15. Its not about a protocol, its about listening to the persons body and systems, then doing what you think it needs without overwhelming it. I feel I truly listen to peoples body's better and have seen my practice grow in success while and since taking the course. I was one of the initial groups of students to go through the program, so some of what I talk about below might change.

The actual course:

Online learning can be difficult. Michael and his staff put a lot of work into creating content that works for adult learners. It is structured so you can hop around topics, the content is complementary without feeling lost if you miss something. There is a variety of styles of contents for different learners. I really enjoyed that there was videos I could watch or just listen to. It made working through the content a lot easier because I could be at a computer, in my car or on a walk. He explains things clearly and brings in a ton of different sources. Its genuinely interesting and engaging content. I also love that because you are not learning from someone who only teaches within only their trademarked modality (Upledger only teaches you how to do Upledger craniosacral for example), you get a wide variety of perspectives and techniques. I came out with skills, knowledge and ideas not limited to Craniosacral. The anatomy element of the course is also very strong and taught well. I usually struggle with memorizing things, but would find myself recalling things I learned easily without any effort to go over them intensely. The course content website runs well and is easy to navigate through.

There is a once a month zoom session where people can check in on any questions and Michael will sometimes discuss a topic of some sort. I got a lot out of them and found it was a good way to feel connected to a learning community.

The in person sessions are mostly hands on time. He goes over the techniques and then you practice with guidance. There was a lot of time to ask questions and he provided a lot of practical experienced based knowledge and stories that you rarely get from classes because they have so much information to fit in. By having the meat of the information be the online component, it opens up in person classes to be a lot more playful. He usually had a teaching assistant at the hands on session who is very active in teaching the class and sharing their perspective.

The cost:

The class is spendy, but the value matches the cost. For me, I looked at the cost of the entire Upledger Track as a comparison. The costs are relatively similar. I have not done the entire Upledger track, so I cannot speak to a full comparison of value. But if you are spending a similar amount, I feel that the Moving Mountain program was fantastic and should be highly considered when deciding where to learn Cranioscral. I also feel like I got a personal experience verse being just another participant in a hotel ballroom style traveling course mill. I got to interact with the teachers, we got to know each other and I feel confident that I could contact Michael with questions or help now that the class is over. I am excited to take more classes with the institute and feel like I am part of a learning community.

The cohort:

Unlike other CE's I have taken this one is unique in that its not mostly massage therapists. It is a mix of LMT, acupuncturists, naturopaths and a speckling of other providers. I think this has pro's and con's. I love all the different perspectives and I got to learn from my classmates. I made good connections and enjoyed being with people all driven by learning. It got challenging in two main ways. First, most LMT's do not have an academia background. We went to technical schools. Not to say we are not educated or smart, but it can be hard to be in a room of people who have been in higher education for 8 years. The language sometimes lost me. A lot of the acupuncturists and ND's are students and not currently working. It created a little bit of a disconnect at times. Overall though, I think that having a variety of practitioners and students was a positive for me that added to what I got out of the course.

The classroom:

Moving Mountain institute is located in Southeast Portland. The space is really nice, well lit, and felt comfortable. Tables and sheets are provided for the in person classes, which is rare. Its a first floor classroom at the end of a long hallway. The chairs were my only complaint, they are small with a low weight capacity.


Masks were required. It seemed like they were really flexible with and supportive of anyone missing class due to illness, which gave me a lot of reassurance.

Odd and ends:

A land acknowledgement was done every in person session and we discussed the indigenous origins of Craniosacral. This was a massive missing hole in the Upledger education and something that drove me away from it. Everyone had pronouns in their zoom and on their name tags. The sources in the class are diverse, both in who created them and their perspectives. I felt comfortable in class challenging others for the most part and was challenged myself.

I think that is everything I can think of and I hope this helps anyone considering the program. Continuing Education can be overwhelming to choose from and there are very few reviews or resources out there to know if the classes are any good or not. If you have any other questions about the Moving Mountain Cranioscral program feel free to reach out.

I loved the program and got so much out of it. I have been referring to it as the masters program to my massage school education. It filled a lot of gaps and really brought everything together for me as a practitioner. Plus I got this cool certificate at the end.