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Anna's Complete Thai Massage Course
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Shama Kern
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April 12, 2014 - 7:35 pm
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The Thai Rocking Massage course definitely takes Thai Massage to another level. It also represents my own evolution in this modality.

Why is Thai Massage so much focused on the legs? That's a good question. Here in Thailand, if you get a Thai Massage, it will be about 70 percent leg work. The Thais don't give it any thought, for them it's just how it is. The foreigners who are more into figuring things out, sometimes claim that this is because the Thais used to work in the fields and were on their legs all day long.

Personally I am not sure if this is correct or not. Even if it was correct, it wouldn't make much sense anymore nowadays since your average urban Thai spends most of the day sitting in a car, on a motorbike, in front of the TV or in front of a computer screen, just like their western counterparts. That means that they are more likely to develop problems in the hip and the upper body, shoulder, neck, or back.

I have always put much more emphasis on upper body work than you will find in traditional Thai Massage. If you look at all my courses, this is quite obvious. I have advanced specialty courses for Thai Back Massage, Ultimate Shoulder Massage, Heavenly Head Massage, Arm and Hand Massage, and Abdominal Massage - all upper body work. This is my contribution to filling this gap in traditional Thai Massage which focuses so much on the legs.

Regarding short therapists, you have plenty of company, like the tens of thousands of short Thai women who all practice Thai Massage. Smile

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Anna
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April 14, 2014 - 9:24 pm
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Yes, you are right Shama :-) And oppositely to me, you are one of fewer long therapists in all Thailand, I guess :-) Exceptional therapist and wise and friendly teacher!

 

MODULE 10:

I am so excited of my Thai Massage Journey, especially of knowing that all the techniques I learn will become more subtle and will help me to become conscious of how to move energy. I know I am still at the beginning of this journey but it is exciting for me.

I like you spoke a bit more about those principles and analyzing it is a nice break from practicing techniques for leg stretch Smile Otherwise, it makes me more aware of what I am supposed to do in the future.

I am a person who likes to receive a gentle massage, a soft touch. However, my partner is not such person. He does a lot of muscles work out and he likes to get strong massage, strong touch. Before the course, whenever I did massage for him, he used to say to me that my moves are too delicate. I tried to adjust it to his needs but he still says too me it is too much gentle for him. What shall I do??? Will it help if I develop the moves and focus on hara?

About the techniques from the video: I like blood stop and the results it brings. Other moves were challenging for me.

Aductor stretch is difficult.Technique spiral twist looks dangerous. When I tried to make it on my long partner , it was looking and feeling funny, like I am doing some acrobatics on him. I felt uncomfortable. Finally, we ended up with a lot of laugh. Not successful and not professional session but bringing a positive, laughing end Smile 

 

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Shama Kern
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April 14, 2014 - 11:06 pm
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Well, it would be quite a miracle if you would look totally professional the first time around when you practice something new! That just takes time and lots of practice and repetition. No way around that. Smile

Regarding working on your partner who likes a strong massage, you will have to learn to work more with forearms, elbows, knees and feet. That will give you more power and more leverage. You will learn more about that throughout this course. Also there is a bonus module at the end of the course which shows you many ways to work with your body in great detail.

I know that some Thai Massage techniques seem to look dangerous initially, but they are not if done correctly, I can assure you. I have been doing all those techniques for 15 years, and I have never hurt anyone yet.

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April 26, 2014 - 1:27 am
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Dear Shama, I could not post anything on the forum for long time because of some technical problems that I informed you about via skype. I have done 4 modules during those days and I will now put my notes one by one. Hopefully it won't be too much for you Smile

MODULE 11:

After many sessions focused on legs stretches, I must say this one was very good to watch. I am happy I could see the whole techniques put at once. I practiced so much all of them that I felt confident this time. Of course I practiced it all at once by looking at the video and it will take some longer time for me to be able to perform all the techniques by my very own. But I must say-I see progress Smile 

Ps. I agree that it is much better to choose appropriate techniques according to the condition of my partner rather than using it all as it comes.

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April 26, 2014 - 1:38 am
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I can handle your 4 posts Laugh. I quite enjoy reading progress reports.

The summary modules seem to be everyone's favorites according the feedback that I am getting.

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Anna
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April 28, 2014 - 6:06 am
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Well, I decided to not write it all together because every day I try to repeat practice of parts that are most difficult or questionable for me and by this I write down more questions and notes that I would like to share on the forum.

MODULE 12:

I find it very useful that you show different ways of doing Thai Massage. It means you treat students as individuals and you know some of us can be short therapists working on tall partners and some can be tall working on small etc. Thanks for such approach!

The hip session was very useful for me. Nowadays, during my yoga class, I had a lady who got a hip pain during practicing asana called Urdhva Prasarita Padasana. I have not had any case like that with this position until the last class.The asana reminds me the position to stretch the hips shown in the first part of the video.  During the massage you shown, if we put leg higher and higher, the stretch is stronger. If I think about the case from my yoga class, did the lady (that is normally a flexible person) got a pain because the asana stretched her too much? I was wondering if it could be connected with her back but after watching the video session I started to look for other reasons, for example her legs. Could you suggest something? And what kind of Thai massage techniques could help her? During yoga class, I stopped her from doing urdhva prasarita padasana and reccomended her to come into Pavanamuktasana. Moves in Thai Massage remind me yoga a lot. In this session on hip stretches, you also shown something like that asana.

You suggested to do relaxing part after strong hip stretches and I think those relaxing techniques could help to that lady as well. What do you suggest, Shama?

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Shama Kern
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April 28, 2014 - 4:25 pm
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Indeed many Thai Massage stretching techniques correlate to similar yoga positions. However there is one very important thing about Thai Massage which cannot be duplicated in yoga, and that is that muscles can be warmed up and relaxed before the stretching. As you know we use pressure and motion or rocking techniques for this. 

If someone experiences pain during stretching, there can be several causes and solutions. Let's deal with the causes first:

  • the stretch is simply too strong for that person
  • the muscle has not been warmed up sufficiently before the stretching
  • muscle fiber can be torn from previous over stretching which can be a long lasting and painful condition
  • the stretch is not suitable for the body of a particular person. This can happen both in yoga and in Thai Massage

Now let's deal with the possible solutions:

  • Ideally the muscle should be warmed up before stretching. This is much easier to do in Thai Massage than in yoga. 
  • For some persons, it is best to not do any stretching at all and instead just work on the muscles 
  • Stretching techniques can be replaced with more gentle techniques
  • Stretching techniques can be replaced with even more gentle rocking techniques

So actually it is not as important to do relaxing techniques after a strong stretch than it is to do relaxing techniques before a strong stretch. Some people might need gradual building up to a certain stretch, and this might mean not to do certain stretches at all until they can handle them without pain.

The other scenario is that a tight muscle is caused by something other than this muscle. For example a tight lower back can be caused by tight hamstrings. Or with certain hip stretches you might need to release a locked up or painful groin area first, if this is where the pain manifests.

You will find out more about causes and solutions as you go through the course. This is a rather complex subject matter and takes quite some experience to deal with well and effectively.

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Anna
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May 7, 2014 - 7:18 am
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Shama,

First at all, a BIG THANK YOU for your tips and advices about my question in the last post. It really helps me a lot. 

Second thing is that I am late with reply because I have been changing a flat and had not Internet connection for a couple of days. 

MODULE 13:

Again thank you-this time for useful tips from the video. I am sure they will be helpful in my future practice (as for now I had no problems with pain at my partner, and if there was any discomfort, I was decreasing the stretch as you recommended in previous videos).

I generally like to learn about psychology of client, especially in the context of mind body therapies.

Will you speak more about effective communication with client in the further modules?

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May 7, 2014 - 12:41 pm
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Module #35 is all about client communication with many options. You will get a lot out of that! Smile

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Anna
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May 12, 2014 - 4:39 am
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Sounds great! Smile

MODULE 14:

I enjoyed the session very much because I like rocking techniques what I already mentioned many times on the forum Smile In contrast, my partner enjoyed more a couple of last sessions because he likes strong stretching and strong massage. This time it was too gentle for him but finally he said it was very relaxing and peaceful experience for him. And me, I was practising and all that time I wished to lay on the mat and get those all flowing movements!

One of the techniques was a bit confusing for me (pulling hands, pushing a leg) and I took a longer time for it. But finally I got it Smile

I realize that I engage very much in doing things right, I mean in flowing with my breath, working from hara, not from hands. It took most of my attention during this session.

That's great you shown how to get to another side of the body during massage because I was confused how to do that several times during the practice in previous sessions. It really helps Smile

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May 13, 2014 - 1:48 am
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That's why we need a good repertoire of techniques. They don't work for everyone in the same way. People have different preferences and we have to learn how to work WITH clients, and not just ON them.

Some techniques will take a little longer to learn, and all of them will keep on evolving along with our own development as therapists. There is no such thing as learning a technique once and then we can suddenly do it perfectly. It is a never ending growth process, and that's what makes it so interesting! Smile

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Anna
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May 22, 2014 - 9:22 pm
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That's right, I agree Smile

MODULE 15

This session was very calm and I enjoyed it. The massage of abdominal and chest is gentle and requires a feel for client that I experienced more than in the previous sessions. I especially like the last technique.

I have several questions about the belly and chest massage.

1. Are there any not advisable situations for belly massage in women (eg. pregnancy,menstruation, gynaecological problems)? 

2. Should belly massage differ in massaging man and women (except recommendations that deal with a person in general)?

3. My partner is a man but I was wondering if women find a chest massage comfortable? 

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May 22, 2014 - 10:13 pm
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I would stay away from abdominal massage in the case of pregnancy etc. Not that it is necessarily bad in every case, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

I never distinguished between men and women with the abdominal massage - makes no difference really.

Women in general often relax into a massage easier than men. Women appreciate nurturing more than men in my experience. I have never heard anything from female clients which would indicate that they have an issue with chest massage. 

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Anna
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June 1, 2014 - 4:35 am
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MODULE 16:

Hi Shama,

I hope everything is going ok with you in Thailand.

I try to put my massage practice into every day routine-sometimes I or my partner have not enough time to make the whole session but we take a chance during every day activities or breaks for relax to have some small parts of Thai massage practice.

During the seesion on shoulders, my partner (who is a body builder) said to me that I have too soft hands for his massive shoulders. But as you advise, I don't want to press anything too much and I still don't have sufficient experience to coordinate my body work and hands work while massaging. I focus on my breath and I find it helpful but my touch is still too soft for my partner. 

He was glad of the technique when I push his shoulder with my leg and pull it with my hand. Thus, this time I mostly focused on this method in order to give him what his body needed Smile

I like the technique of stretching and I personally think it is very useful for body builders. My partner also said that the stretch is good and strong enough for him. And that muscles relax in the form of rocking after the stretch! Perfect!!!

I have one question to you Shama: Is it safe to do shoulder massage if there was a recent neck inury (in cervical vertebra)?

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Shama Kern
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June 2, 2014 - 9:19 pm
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It is a little difficult to answer your shoulder massage question without knowing the specifics of the neck injury, like was it an operation, or an internal issue, and how intense is the injury, and which cervical vertebra is it?

Even knowing the answers to these questions, I could not give specific advice since I have not seen and touched the client, and of course I am not a doctor.

However I can say that if the injury is not severe, and you have a good repertoire of shoulder techniques, and you know how to position the client in such a way that there is no pressure or stress on the vertebrae, and you work on the shoulder in a way which does not impact the neck in a way that could aggravate the condition, then yes, you could work on the shoulder.

As you can see, there are many "ifs" in my answer. There are shoulder techniques which move the neck quite strongly, and there are shoulder techniques which hardly move the neck at all. It is also a matter of experience of the therapist. My feeling is that only therapists who have a good amount of experience and a good amount of skills should work in areas which are in the vicinity of substantial injury.

And if there is any doubt, I would ask the client to get clearance from their doctor so that the responsibility is not just on your shoulders. Better to be safe than sorry. 

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Anna
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June 4, 2014 - 4:09 am
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Yes, you are right. Thank you very much for your answer. It sounds very sensible and reasonable.

MODULE 17:

This session could be perfect if it was done on me Smile I felt that I need such a massage of hands and arms and I hope my partner will try to do it for me, or at least one of those techniques!

But as a person who was giving massage, I must say it was a bit difficult. I need more practice in order to get more clearance. Especially techniques of one of hand / palm push down and forward, squezzing were confusing for me. They are so similar to each other.

Personally, we both (me and my partner) enjoyed massage of rounding hands when they hold each other. We found it intimate Wink

I found it a bit difficult to move smooth on the arm and hand of my partner. Should I use some oil to avoid such case? What about oils in Thai Massage in general? Do we use them? If yes, which are most popular?

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June 4, 2014 - 2:34 pm
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The "sliding off the hands" move requires quite a bit of pressure and has to be done very slowly in order to work. You also have to get the angle of your arm right, i.e. there should be about a 45 degree angle in your arm in relation to your partner's arm.  In addition it doesn't work well on dry hands. So that's why this move doesn't work on everyone.

I would not use oil just for one move since you had to stop what you are doing, apply the oil, and then keep going. The only time when I would use oil is when I would do a real solid hand massage of maybe 15 minutes or more.

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Anna
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June 10, 2014 - 4:14 am
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Thank you for very useful tips, Shama.

MODULE 18:

It is very dificult to make a transition of the body as a flow. It is challenging for me to be so precise... But I keep trying Smile

I find Thai Massage to be a good body workout for the therapist Smile

One of the stretch from the session (the one which affects lower spine) I could not use because I am small and my partner is big and heavy.

To lean shoulder back, I sit down on my feet as I find it a bit risky to balance on my tiptoes and stretch the client's shoulder...I think it comes natural after the years of practice...

Otherwise, everything was ok with this session Smile

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June 10, 2014 - 9:37 pm
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Trust me, the transitions will become like second nature to you after a while. Smile

True, Thai Massage is a good workout for the therapist as well. If you work on really big and heavy people, there are some techniques that are just too hard to do. There is nothing wrong with skipping them. The techniques are not mandatory sequences, they are options to choose from.

The tiptoe technique will also become easy once you find your balance. In the beginning it is all a little difficult, and after a while you can do it while you are sleeping! Laugh

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Anna
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June 11, 2014 - 3:37 am
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Smile Yes, that must be true. I trust you because you are a great teacher!

MODULE 19:

This is another perfect summarizing session. I like it and I find it very helpful for me to summarize the part of learning process and remind the key points.

Of course, my performance is still not such a natural flow like shown in the video but I try. I practiced the whole flow from the session twice as for now and I know I must come back to this session many times more in order to become an expert. 

Thanks for very usefull tips on how to work with energy. I always appreciate them!

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