After I finished the Complete Thai Massage Course, unexpected the Art of Thai Massage Series came into my mailbox as an additional workshop. I decided to comment on the different videos. I signed up the hip course shortly after and had no time to look at the “Art of Thai Massage Series.” This will now be remedied.
First of all, it is very generous to offer this additional learning opportunity and I am grateful for another opportunity to look at this rare art.
The Art of Thai Massage Series no 1 – Dealing with Body Contact in Thai Massage.
This episode dealt with various positions which could possibly bring forth too close body contact for some. Especially female students seem to have have had questions, and so did I. Since Thai massage uses clothe, there is less of a chance to be misunderstood. Of course, this profession requires to have straight boundaries and that can be enhanced through “agreements” and signing “wavers” which explains that it is sometimes necessary to work at certain areas. Being open about ones intention is helpful as well. It is important that a new client is not exposed to sudden surprises. For instance, if the client has pain in the groin area due to arthritis, or a hip replacement, or a variety of other issues, such as excessive stiffness, muscle weakness, hair-line-fractures, etc. there are good reasons to work at the groin area but it is wise to explain this possibly during the client intake time. I personally would let them sign a “waver” (showing pictures) – so there is agreement – and no confusion. A waver is necessary to make sure that possible misunderstandings are ruled out from the start. It is likely that most practitioners have come across some basic immaturities in the past and hence, it is better to wait for a while till the client knows more about the ART of Thai massage.
In a way, everything in Thai Massage depends on leverage. If the practitioner is long legged then the session looks different than if the practitioner is short legged – so the issues come up and leverage, size, strength, and flexibility all come into play in order to create a session. Luckily all of this can be adjusted. There are moves for every body tupe and with practice one can become very graceful – eventually – this is part of the art.
There was one technique were one takes the client having the toes at the sacrum. That did not work too well for me as I had a broken toe which does not have the strength to let bodies rest on it peacefully (too bad but not that bad 🙂 ).
The spinal twist with the practitioners leg in top of the clients leg and then twist the spine with the upper hands was easy as the leverage was right.
There are always versions with less body contact and depending on the client I may just stick with them as I find them all just equally nurturing. It all depends on the ideation and on the way we invite possible energetic healing.
Working at the inner groin it is easy enough to just work on the outside for some – if that is a problem. I think the scooping techniques can also be applied to open up the groin – without getting to close to the private areas.
I liked the way we use the pillow when we try to get under the leg as this creates a nice barrier for a client which dies not know enough about Thai massage.
With good open communication and agreement (waver at client intake for the new person) can create a nice harmonious flow.
Thank you for this wonderful video. I addressed some questions which I had as well.
What I find surprising is that while in the West there is so much opening about so may things but when it comes to too close physical contact one must be extra careful – that is one never knows peoples hang ups and past patterns. I learned to go the safest route possible.
Working in pain-management, the pain was always the guide to what to do. That never failed me so far. I have personally no problems to do any of the close up positions – if indicated and if in agreement. I need to know however what I want (not intellectually but the clients conditions is my guide).
This is interesting to hear. In the US everything needs to be in writing and agreed and explained and clarified and prevented. In Thailand nothing is ever done like that. The therapists just do the sessions, and nobody complains about too much intimacy, and there are no big issues. It is the total opposite.
Of course both in the US and in Thailand things can happen during massage that are not to everyone’s liking. But here it never becomes a big issue with new rules and legal threats and paperwork. Life is just a bit more easy-going in Thailand.
As a practitioner to protect the license – hence profession – is paramount. Sometimes I thought that the regulations are too much but I sometimes came across people with a general lack of awareness and issues of social alienation. Perhaps people are weaker here and more prone to give into temptation. With a bit of spiritual education and inner higher and deeper fulfillment (such as in meditation were we do not want anything from anybody and practice desirelessness, which does not mean that we don’t enjoy what comes our way but we don’t force things to happen, hence creating drama) all of that would change perhaps. Perhaps with younger people this is different but I doubt it.
Yes, I wish things would be more easy going and more trusting.
Yes, not only the clients safety needs to be safe guarded but also the safety of the profession. Hence, boundary must be straight – without making things uncomfortable of course. It’s a learning process. I don’t want to make enemies along the way but educate people in a nice and respectful manner. I like the way Asians “safe face” when somebody demonstrate “a lack of awareness” = “a lack of education really.
The Art of Thai Massage 2 – Calf and Ankle Stretches:
This was very straight forward. One particular stretch was done in different ways. Our own size, the clients condition and size, again leverage, fulcrum needs to be adjusted.
The first example, sitting behind her feet, feet leaning against the belly does not work when the client has large feet and the practitioners torso is low (in case she is female). Modification worked well (one knee near the knee and the other at the hip, we held the quads down and we leaned over… it was easy and straight forward.
Heavy legs still remain a problem though. the switch was really easier but one needs to be careful when we pulled the leg back, sometimes we can lean back with straight arm and in rare cases, when the client is ultra flexible, a pull down may be needed.
I liked the one were we place the clients feet at our neck and we placed the finger around the toes, pulling the leg down, taking care the knee dies not buckle…
I did another variation on my own (remembered from another class). I stand behind the feet and then I lift the feet slowly up into a vertical position. Then place my feet near the hip, to create stability and lean with my forearm at the feet/ties area, it involves the hamstrings and perhaps the lower back too. Problem here is that sometimes the knees can buckle and ideally i have to move the legs towards the chest slightly so they won’t buckle.
I really like to see all these different variations. In this way we are able to find the right way to stretch. Some people have huge legs and they are impossible to navigate with ease but then again with the right leverage out own life force provides enough strength to leverage the situation with ease.
Looking forward to practice some more.
Much to you again. Peace!
My purpose with this kind of video is to show that there are often several ways of doing something in Thai Massage. It is intended to stimulate creativity and innovation – like in “this doesn’t work well, let’s try something else”.
I also like to show the incredible range of techniques in Thai Massage. This comes back to my motto: “The techniques are options to choose from, not mandatory sequences.”
The Art of Thai Massage – Half Back Arch Stretch Variations
This was very interesting again as we become aware of how to move beyond sequences. The modifications adjusting our weights and body-types to one another is an act of creativity. What feels good is the key and it appears that with experience we can come up with our own modifications.
The first type where the knee was bend was possible because I had an extra flexible praxis friend. It is clear that when works with several joint junction that one has to be aware of every move along the way. I used my knee as well and it worked. I was surprised how well this works.
Sitting down on my toes and having my leg over her did not work as my foot hang in mid air, so the leverage was missed. It all depends on leverage, weight, flexibility, etc.
Another Lady I practiced this with was more stiff and I had to use the rocking motion. This was experienced as extra releasing for her. I must admit that I like the rocking a lot and I might sign up for that class soon.
Getting ip from the toes, rocking with my hand and moving between different leverage zones was still a bit tricky for me as my leg was not on the floor for support.
Easing into rocking by sitting on your foot appears very relaxing in the video. I was myself also relaxed when I did the rocking motion lifting my leg up, looks like some kind of warrior pose for the legs.
Thank you for your answer too. And, you do indeed encourage creativity and innovation as a healing artist. For me the insecurity was always about “purity of formal traditional thai training (which I was interested in greatly as I thought that that is the way to go -initially-, but also felt not just my own limitations way too soon). My ability to adjust to my own ways of doing and experiencing the healing ways, which needs to allow for comfort zones… as only then the cosmic flow (call it Hara, Pranah, Ki) can flow freely. Really, ultimately one has to get out of any cookie cutter way. Bodywork is like handwriting, different for everyone. Nothing is ever a mere copy. So whey not explore what is needed and look for ideal ways to reach the goals – right for the client and oneself.
Much to you and yours Shama. 🙂
“Bodywork is like handwriting, different for everyone.” I like this analogy – so true!
It is a fact that most aspiring Thai Massage therapists tend to think that they have to follow the “traditional pure system”. The thing is that there is no such thing as the “one pure traditional system”. There are lots of variations here in Thailand and even more in the western world nowadays. They are not better or worse, just different.
Certainly it is very useful to learn a specific sequence in the beginning as a way to get started and to remember everything. But we don’t want to get stuck there without developing our “own handwriting”. Since every client is different, we need to have different approaches as well. Otherwise we would be trying to drive a square peg into a round hole.
Yes, I hear you clearly. There are as many variations as there are body-types. The cookie cutter way felt very insecure for me as I could not bring my body in as is. Think about strength, skill, ability, security of client and practitioner and combine that with flow, ideation, well wishes and true compassion beyond conceptual thinking… and lastly sincerity (I invite humor to my sense sincerity too) and finding the right options available. One can be a powerhouse of life force and not have the skill to see the clients needs or one can have less strength but can apply skill and flow in wondrous ways. It’s as if something very deep comes through on its own.
The Art of Thai Massage 4 – Hip Flexor stretch Variations
The variations are great using all the options, subtle we can choose from hamstring to buttocks to sacrum are. So many options.It worked well, and I experienced the moves as well as my practice person likes to try it out as well.
Using the foot is particularly subtle and easy, the walking was good. My practice friend had some knee pain and I needed to be careful to pull the leg while in “gear” so to speak, that means balanced on both side of the knee. I notice that some of the moves the knee appears a bit uneven aligned which is ok when the person does not have knee issues. If there are minor issues to avoid this is to make sure that the joint is aligned when stretched. That is my experience – generally speaking – there are so many exceptions.
It is good to have a goal at times (especially when it is a treatment session in comparison to a relaxing and delightful kneading and stretching session, means one can look what the clients needs are and what I want to do to remedy this.
The hip flexors are almost universally foreshortened in people – so this lesson is particularly useful.
I have one stretch for myself. Just lie down on the (massage)- or any other stable table and let one leg hang down from the table for 2 minutes. The gravity gives a good pull and one can target that way even the adductors.
The Art of Thai Massage 5 – Pain Issues:
Interestingly, I never experienced Thai Massage as painful but can see how it can be potentially painful if the practitioner is not paying attention.
Choosing the right way to apply for the right client, exploring the threshold carefully is a must. I see how certain moves are fully evolved and too much.
I liked when you said that less flexible people need more the massaging, work on muscles without stretching, rocking, etc. and the more flexible may want more stretching. It makes so sense.
the way you said “breaking a new client in” was a nice way to explain that less (stretches) is more sometimes. Although all of this is common sense – it often still stakes experience to work with people on that level.
Of course, the pain level measuring level of the 1-10 method I used it for years very well. One can even do a diary from measuring the overall result before and after the session (on a particular area… see of the number 8 neck pain is down to a 4, next time a 2… so one can clearly see that things get better over a period of time.
Very bony people, working lightly, makes sense too, light people are often too windy and they need some nerve-calming methods as well. A lighter touch is a good method to address the nervous system in lightweight bony persons.
Speed too is important. Eventually, with some folk, one can speed up. You said “going slow is better than fast, is overall so true, there are exceptions here too, some people need some invigoration. It needs to be determined. Sometimes one just knows and one can always check in as well. Heavy earthy people
4 Ways to consider working – I like lists which are common sense as they integrate energetically quiet easily.
1. Match right method with the right client (stretches versus muscle work, for instance)
2. Intensity and power (use 1-10 method here)
4. Speed (slower may be less if at all painful) – is mostly better – makes total sense
5. Choosing the right style 0 linear versus motion pressure
To avoid pain some guidelines are needed and I these make total sense. Thank you for this wonderful gift lesson again.
Working an area directly as direct pressure, or in motion, rocking, jostling can be determined. Hanging out quietly on in an area in a pointed, can melt down the tension as well, when the pain level is just the good type of pain. It is important that clients know the “good pain” versus the”bad pain.” I really had clients who were clueless about the good pain. It befuddled me and I stuck with somewhat lighter work then. Medium pressure, when held longer, also can release muscles and tendons as well.
Perhaps this is one of the most important lessons. Pain is something everybody knows about but when one is in great shape, then it is harder for some to put yourself into the shoes of a client with more serious forms of pain (structural damage, for instance).
I am gone for a week…. so I may not find the time to write… we will see.
Summer Peace. 🙂
The problem is that many Thai Massage therapists subscribe to the no-pain-no gain philosophy. Some are even proud of causing pain. I have seen my share of them. And I have read countless Thai Massage reviews where people told stories about very painful experiences. That’s why I am on a crusade to tell people that Thai Massage is not painful by nature.
And, as you can tell, I have an entire system for doing Thai Massage in a sensitive way without causing any unnecessary pain.
Had some spelling errors late at night… sorry for that. I see them often later… now I can’t correct them.
Yes, I hear you, your method works with my being. I remember when I studied Anma Massage from Japan that the teacher said that in Japan they kicked on occasion people into the kidney to release a stone… Well, sometimes things are just too rough out there for my taste.
I sure like to develop the more subtle and energetic methods bit not only, hanging out in the middle more or less.
The Art of thai Massage 6 and 7 – Forearm and Knee Applications
Going over the ways of how how to use forearm and knees correctly was, as usual, very insightful. The forearm was something I was used to using more so. I picked up practical moves. The art here for me is always how to move the body comfortably and with grace and ease, especially when we worked with the forearm at the thigh and Glutes. Elephant walking I always love to give a lot and one of my best client friends loves elephant walking a lot. I was reminded how it felt when someone does thumb-walking anywhere. It feels really good to release a spot slowly and put new pressure along another line.
Using the knees was a totally new experience. My practice friends practiced on me too so I could experience this. I loved the moves under the armpit a lot (supine). My scapula released that way. Of course one has to kind of get in there from an angle, slightly moving in and out below the nerve and arteries structures. My scapula cracked and released and I felt so good afterwords. I had no clue that I am that tight in there.
I don’t know how to express how special it is to experience totally new sensations and that is what the knee work did for me. I know I could write more about technical ways but for me it is also important to experience this technique. This was so new to me that my entire life force felt inspired and happy.
In addition, I thought that I was insensitive with my knees but I am not. I graduated the application nicely. It helped that we went through all the many options and doing the moves increased my confidence in the practice.
Sending Summer Greetings – Soon more:
I am so glad to hear that you learned something new and different with the knee work, and especially that you took to it easily. Clearly with more skills and practice we build up confidence, plus it is a lot more enjoyable to practice Thai Massage when we have so many different options for working on clients.
The Art if Thai Massage Traction part I and II – Video 7 and 8
Traction is ideal to create some space between the joints to decompress. Open up spaces to create room for energy to flow freely is a common experience for me as I have a friend who uses a shawl to pull and jostle me. It is very useful indeed to feel the freshness and the revitalization which is invited. Having been shown some demonstrations of how to use traction and compression going through the entire body is indeed straight forward and also creative again. I liked how the leg was bent over the thigh – leaning back. It worked very well. The ore intimate pull was also easy. A very straight forward move indeed.
The upper body – head and neck was very supportive for the neck. Side-positions felt very good with the arm and especially the shake, lift and release, was well received and easy to do. Traktion and shaking felt really nice for my client. Doing again the scapula work was a nice interlude as this too can be benefitted through lifting and moving over and releasing. Very nice effective traction method to create new mobility in a client. This may not work with those clients with a clued down scapula but we may find other ways to move the scapula to move adhesions and brake them slowly up.
Traction on the leg was nicely explained. The handle at the heal, the support at the foot and how to lean back. All of that makes so much sense – especially with the following rhythmic compression which followed. The cobra stretch of course is strong but felt so incredible good. It was true, I never thought of this move as traction. Leaning back standing was easy. I remember that we can do side-bending in a similar fashion.
Looking at the bigger picture and using traction in so many different ways has been more than helpful to me. I had the benefit that my friend practiced some of the moves on me – having an idea how things feel is important for my own integration of the material, especially if the move is repeated a couple of times.
Again, I loved this little additional course. I am looking forward to soon sign up for more classes or repeat the old classes as this takes practice and time to integrate and yes, in my case sometimes find alternative way to do the same.
No one really knows how happy it makes me learning anything about Thai healing. But now I shared this sentiment with you Shama.
See you soon Shama and greetings to all.
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