Maybe your partner wore a bulky shirt. Try the same on someone with a t-shirt and see if that works better. Personally I never had this issue.
If your partner prefers something, by all means accommodate him. However this technique is meant to be a workout for the trapezius muscle and not so much a shoulder rotation. But I guess you could use it in both ways. Nothing wrong with that.
I always love it when my clients fall asleep, it's a good sign. That does't mean that you should work stronger so that they wake up. I love drifting off during a good Thai Massage.
August 9, 2013
Yes, I know, and it is nice to see someone sleeping so peacefully, but let´s say you fall asleep at the beginning of the session, are you conscious of what the person is doing with your body afterwards? Can you say that it was a good session? And you, as a therapist, are you going on with all the sequence? I love it when there´s some feed back now and then, like a "qué rico" ...
As to the shirt, maybe it was a little bit bulky, about 3 sizes too large, that´s why there was a kind of muddle down there so I wasn´t comfortable to work on it.
I always keep some t-shirts (and pants) around for clients who have unsuitable clothes on, and I ask them to change.
It is highly unusual for someone to fall asleep right in the beginning of the session. I have practically never experienced this. But I have had many clients fall asleep during sessions. And no, they often have no idea what I did. It tends to happen more often when I do a Heavenly Head Massage session which is kind of trancy stuff. Assuming that you don't really work way too lightly, and that the client falls asleep, I have an explanation for them when they come to again.
I explain that this is no regular sleep. If you would actually be asleep in your bed and someone would start rubbing you, stretching you, twisting you, you would guaranteed wake up immediately. The fact that someone can sleep through all this activity indicates that it is more a slowing down of brain wave activity like in a deep meditational state where the body can do its best job of regeneration and healing. First this is true, and second I rephrase their thinking "Oh I fell asleep, I missed it all" into "Oh that therapist put me into the most conducive healing state there is - amazing!"
It's all a matter how you see it and how you present it. But I don't think that you have to worry too much about many clients sleeping through most of the session. Thai Massage tends to be vigorous enough with lots of action to keep people from sleeping all the way through.
August 9, 2013
Modules 18 and 19 - shoulder transition and summary
First of all, thank you very much Shama for your kind reply and your explanation concerning the sleep during a session - I am sure you´re right and I´ll try to see the good side of this.
As to the shoulder work I followed your advice and worked on my partner and also on my daughter. So I´ve had two experiences which were quite different. First I worked with my partner as usual. He liked a lot the upper body twist but didn´t care much about the "8", the arm pulling (which I personally like a lot), and the lower spinal twist was very difficult for me to do (actually I had to let it go), because of his weight ... The summary was great, I tried to focus on the energy flow and feel that it worked quite well. So, then I worked with my daughter. She´s quite a skinny but athletic person, very flexible and therefore much easier to work on, she´s also more sensitive. We practiced the upper body twist, the lower body twist, figure 8, and she found it great! The same happened with the summary (quote, but I don´t know how to say that in English: she felt a lot of "buena vibra"). The only thing she didn´t care much about was the arm work, the 3 lines kneading whereas my partner enjoyed that a lot (well, like I told you, he fell asleep). Is this due to the body weight maybe? My partner has this strong big arms whereas my daugter´s are very thin ... Ah, and she is quite ticklish, so doing the move below the ribs was a little bit complicated! But all in all it was a very good session, we both felt good and once more I was surprised that I could work on just someone´s upper body for one hour!
Now I´m looking forward to the prone sequence!
You will find that a lot - not every technique works on every client. That's why you need a good size repertoire and you need to develop sensitivity to quickly figure out what works well on whom. That's where the "art" in healing arts comes in. Without this skill we'd all be "massage mechanics" instead of healing artists.
Granted, this takes time to develop, so don't feel bad if initially some people don't like if you do certain techniques on them. This kind of feedback is a valuable learning experience.
August 9, 2013
Modules 20 and 21 - prone legs 1 and 2
I´m very pleased to note that there are quite a few different ways to do one move (I´m referring to the calf stretch and the leg pulling), so if I forget to do it in the supine position I can always do it in the prone position!
The elbow work was amazingly good, I say amazingly, because I wasn´t right sure if it would feel good or not, but my partner enjoyed it and me, too, it´s quite a relief to work with different parts of the body and not only with the hands and it brings more variety into a session. However, my partner was not very relaxed in the position of module 21 (thigh work with forearms). I had to place a pillow below his lower leg to make the position more comfortable for him, so I don´t know if we did that in the right way ... Maybe I should have moved up more?
Concerning the move on the lower leg using the knee, I really didn´t feel how far I could go (using elbows is challenging, but I still have more feeling in my elbow than in my knees!!!), so feed-back and the number-method were very necessary and helpful.
Well, you are right, feedback and the number method will gradually help you to figure out what to do. There is no magic formula here. It's just a matter of practicing it and getting feedback and adjusting and trying something a little different until you find what works best. The only thing that I can say is that the main ingredient for success is to develop the feeling of sinking in softly, breathing with the movement, working with body weight only, and gradually building up more sensitivity.
There is no magic trick for instant success. To get good at Thai Massage does take some time. Those who just learn the mechanics of the techniques might think that what they do is Thai Massage, but in reality it is just the first step. Any healing art will take time to grow and blossom.
The good news is that I can tell you that it is very possible to develop a good amount of sensitivity in your knees as well. Yes it will take practice, but once you have it, you will feel really good about it. You will find a good amount of helpful information in the Body Master for Massage bonus course which you will receive after you are through the Thai Massage course.
August 9, 2013
Modules 22 and 23 prone legs 3 and sacrum/glutes
Hi again! Thanks for the good news - I also have some: we went on practicing module 21 and every day it´s getting more fluent, also the transition from one side to the other which I found a little bit complicated at the beginning. I also feel more confident using my knees on the lower leg, but I found it very very very difficult to use them on the glutes! Especially the "up-and-down-and-left-and-right-move" and also the one where we simultaneously use the knee on the glutes and lift the hip. So we keep on practicing these two ones ... Sacrum work was wonderful like you were saying! First I was wondering if I could find the right place to work on but it was not that hard, actually it´s easy to detect and the whole sequence was very very relaxing.
One question: When you were showing the blood-stop in the supine position you mentioned that it should not be done on a person with varices. How about all the other leg work with forearms, elephant walking, etc. - can we do that on a person with varices in a very slight way or is it advisable to let it go? In an oil massage the recommendation was not the knead, so what kind of leg work can we do in that case?
It all depends on the severity of the condition. Obviously I can only make a general statement, but if someone has some varicose veins on the legs, normal pressure techniques should not be a problem, and you don't have to baby it either. If the condition is more severe, then you have to be more cautious. Varicose veins are not a contraindication for leg work in general. It's one of those issues where you have to use common sense and decide on a case by case basis. I don't see a problem with kneading techniques, and neither with pressure techniques unless the condition is severe.
August 9, 2013
Modules 24 and 25 - prone back 1 and 2
First I want to tell you that after practicing the move I found so difficult in module 23 (knees on glutes) now it is just fine, actually, I don´t understand why I could not do that. Maybe I was concentrated too much on the technique that it could not flow ... Now it just feels good, this rocking-swinging-shifting from one side to the other, I like it and my daughter, too (this time I was practicing with her).
The moves up and down the erector muscle are very very nice. It took me a little while to find the right breathing and leaning in/out rhythm, but then it felt very good. The elbow and knee techniques are again challenging ... More the knees. And I feel that my partner is holding against me although I did the moves very slightly. Again, I was a little bit tense when using my knee, but with the 1 to 10 method we could handle it quite well, and the second time we practiced it I felt much more relaxed. Anyway, I repeated the other moves (which can be considered like a warming-up of the erector muscle?) then the knee move worked much better. However, I think I prefer the elbow technique, like I have more sensitivity in my elbows than in my knees ... I hope that this weekend I will get the chance to practice with my daughter just to try the same things on a different body and see how it goes!
Many issues that students have with the training resolve themselves just through continued practice. The moves become easier, feel more natural and flow better. Your body has adjusted to new ways of moving, and you become more confident and at ease. Sooner or later you will find that you have just as much sensitivity in your knees than in your elbows. Once you get to a point where you don't have to think so much anymore about which techniques to do and how they work, then you can focus on all the other elements which take it all to a higher level. You are on the right track!
August 9, 2013
Modules 26 and 27 - prone back 3/prone upper back
I have had some very positive feed-back in my back massage during the last few days. I´ve worked with two different persons and they both agreed that the galloping rhythm feels better than the elephant walk, at least on the back. The forearm technique was more pleasant for my partner than it was for my (very boney) daughter, but neck, shoulder and trapezius work were simply wonderful. However, I had a problem in module 27 - the shoulder-blade pulling. My partner was very uncomfortable with his position (the arm bent on the back), on the other side he liked the pulling. So is there another variant to bring the shoulder blade out? I have tried to change the angle of his arm, but it did not work and I did the move with his arm resting on the floor, but of course it´s not the same. It also worked better on his left side than on the right side. So can you recommend me any other method to loosen up his right shoulder? On the other hand, the upper body twist (circling) was very welcome.
August 9, 2013
Thank you - I´m already looking forward to more shoulder work!
Module 28 - Summary prone position
And again thanks for the summary, I like a lot the whole sequence, it took me about an hour to do it with my daughter and she was very pleased with almost all the moves. What she didn´t enjoy that much were the elbows on her feet and the knee on her lower leg. As to the move on the feet I don´t want to let it go just like this because it´s the only one we did in this position, so I used my thumbs instead of the elbows, is that ok? And on the lower leg I just did some elephant walking instead of using my knee. I have practiced a lot the transitions, so - it´s getting better and much more fluent. As to the moves on the back, some are on the far side of the spine and some on the near side. Is it better to finish one side of the back and change position or stay in the position and work on the two sides?
Sure, you can use thumbs instead of elbows. However I suggest you keep practicing with the elbows until you get to the point where it feels good. The secret sauce is to try different angles of your forearm so that you are not using the sharp tip of the elbow. Then move the elbow around slightly when you lean in so that it is less pointy and make sure you sink in with body weight and not press with muscle power. (I am sure you have heard me say that before )
Try to just lighten up with both elbows and knees and use them in a feather light way.
Regarding which side of the back to work on: It is easier to stay on one side of your partner's body as long as possible and then switch to the other side. You can work on the far and near side of the back while you are on one side of the body, and then you repeat it all from the other side. It is really all quite flexible. There are no hard and fast rules. If you are good at transitioning (which you should be), then it is no problem to switch to the other side.
August 9, 2013
Thank you so much for your reply the elbow issue and the back sequence - I´lll keep on practicing ...
Modules 29 and 30 - side position 1 and 2
Palming the leg and especially sitting on it was very very nice, my partner felt this warmth in the leg and found it wonderful, although he doesn´t like the side position that much. Maybe the mat that I use is still too thin. Could you tell me how thick it should be at least and how you call it exactly?
As to the other moves, elephant walking and using the thumbs were just fine, but the ones where I had to lift my partner´s leg for the inner thigh and hip stretch and the hip, quadriceps and lower back stretch where really challenging. In the video you just lift the leg and start doing the stretch, it looked very easy - and when I wanted to lift my partner´s leg, I couldn´t do it so easily! His legs are so heavy and it cost me quite an effort to keep them in the right position. I hope I can practice that with my daughter one day to see how it should work ... Regarding the spinal twist I´m not so sure, I felt that my partner always wanted to hold against me although in my opinion I tried to do it very slowly and hardly stretched him, so I suppose I should do it even more slowly?
Next week I will travel to Germany and I won´t be able to see the new modules neither practice them (my mother is getting a surgery). It´s only for two weeks, on 19th of November I´ll be back. So I hope this is not a problem, after the 19th I go on with practicing the remaining modules!
Regarding the mat, here in Thailand most people use a firm and dense foam mat which is a little over one inch or 3 cm think and covered with vinyl. The idea is that the mat should be firm enough so that you don't sink through it and touch the floor underneath it. Very thick and soft mats don't work that well for Thai Massage.
Regarding the stretches - that's always an issue in Thai Massage. The bigger the differential is between a small therapist and a large client, the more difficult some stretches will become. That's why I am always saying that all the techniques are options to choose from, not mandatory sequences. It is a good idea to practice on a lighter partner and get a good feeling for the technique and then see if you can do them on someone with heavy legs. If it is still too hard for you, then just don't do this stretch on a heavy person.
Regarding the spinal twist, yes, do it so lightly that your partner is totally comfortable with it and then increase slowly and gradually. Also try it on someone else, and you might find much less or no resistance. You won't get the same reactions from everyone unless you do a technique totally wrong. Spinal twists can be strong stretches. What I do in such cases is that I pick one of the many spinal twists that can be converted into a rocking move. This particular one in the side position does not lend itself to the rocking conversion. But there are twists in the prone and supine position that can be done in a gentle rocking fashion.
August 9, 2013
Thanks for the hint - my mat is also a foam mat, but not more than 1,5 cm thick, and it was the thickest I could find. So I could try to place one above the other.
Regarding the stretches and the spinal twist - I practiced that with my daughter and it all worked fine! My partner is about 20 kg heavier than she is, so there´s quite a difference between the two! However, I´m glad that we could do the stretches without any problem and that it even felt nice for both of us.
Modules 31 and 31 - side position 3 and 4
These are very nice moves, especially the ones that include a trapezius massage which is always very welcome. The arm circling with shoulder stretch took me some time to get a rhythm, also the lifting and pulling back of the scapula, but the second time I felt much better about it. Rotating the shoulder by leaning on trapezius felt just right and nice to do it, also the shoulder and arm traction and stretch. Regarding the scapula moves - they worked much better with my partner than in the prone position where he felt quite uncomfortable with his arm on the back, but I could not really hook my fingers in there because his scapula is like glued to his body. I hope that with more practice he will become more flexible there.
So now I won´t post until I´ll be back in town (and practicing) in about two weeks! Thanks for all your support!
August 9, 2013
Modules 33 and 34 - Sitting position 1 and 2
This is a really challenging position for people who have problems with keeping their back straight and sitting comfortably with the legs crossed (my partner ...). BUT since he loves neck and trapezius work he already begins to like the position because it is really perfect for working in this area easily. What he most enjoyed (and me, too) was squeezing the neck with both palms of the hands. This is simply wonderful! First because of the move itself and second because of the body contact.
We had some initial problems with the back stretch, not because of the balance, but because my parter felt uncomfortable with my knees in the back and we had to use a pillow, then it felt fine for him.
The forearm techniques are very nice, too, especially the second one, where the recipient can rest his head on the therapist´s thigh and I feel that the back is better supported with the side of the leg than with the knee(s).
What I found a little bit complicated was to find a flowing transition from one move into the other because we have to keep the recipient´s back supported. Overall, I do like the sitting position, and I would build it in for example between the supine and prone position.