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Bianca Gilliam Complete Thai Massage Course
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Bianca Gilliam
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October 12, 2017 - 11:13 pm
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Hello all!

This is where I will be posting my progress in the Complete Thai Massage Course. 

I began a few days ago on watching the videos but will be re-watching them and practicing more in the coming days before on the modules I have received. 

I come to this practice with no background in massage but 10 years of being a yoga student with a more concentrated practice these past two years. My fiance will be working with me as my partner and I am very excited to share techniques with him. I also think working with him will make this a very collaborative experience and allow me to hone in on my own unique flow. 

Very excited for this journey! Be well!

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Shama
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October 13, 2017 - 12:04 am
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Hi Bianca, welcome to the Complete Thai Massage certification program! Smile

Please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification check list to make sure that it is all correctly organized:

Certification Check List

You have an extensive yoga background and a good practice partner…that makes for a good start! Smile

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Bianca Gilliam
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October 13, 2017 - 12:06 am
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Module 1

There are already so many parallels between yoga and Thai massage based on module one! The importance of integrating breath, posture/ergonomics, and techniques (or the poses in yoga) is evident after watching the video. This introduction made me feel at home and less nervous about what is to come or how I will perform. 

In my introduction I talked about how I had never really been interested in western styles of massage. I believe that understanding the body and it’s anatomy are very important but that if you do not first heal what is within no lasting improvements will be made. I love that Thai massage works with the energy lines and am anxious to learn more about the energy lines so that I can integrate that knowledge into my yoga practice as well. 

Learning to become a healer rather than a massage machine is also important to me. I want this practice to be something that not only brings joy and relief to my clients but also to myself. I find that yoga has healed me in many ways and I am always wanting to share this with others, but many believe that they are not capable of reaching the flexibility of those they see in ads. I think that the use Thai massage as an introduction to the healing arts will change my ability to discuss with others how healing and beneficial it is to work with the energy found within the body. 

I also found it interesting that many of the positions that therapists will be using are also practiced in yoga. I practice squatting everyday. I love the way it feels to have my toes bent back and stretched out. When I was younger I was told that the toes were the first things to lose mobility as you age. It stuck with me and is the reason why I practice that posture everyday. I do think that I will have to work on sitting on my heels. Do you have trouble with your feet going to sleep? When I practice this posture my feet/legs often fall asleep and I was wondering if you have suggestions for this. 

I also wonder about the importance of using your body weight and not muscle pressure. My partner is much larger than me (1 1/2 feet taller than me, 30 lbs heavier) and I’m wondering if some of the techniques might require me to use some muscle force in order to get them done. Do you have suggestions for working with people that are much larger than you? 

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Shama
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October 13, 2017 - 12:22 am
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We have something in common. I also never felt attracted to western bodywork and have never practiced it. My entire 18 year massage career has been Thai Massage. Like you, I have a yoga background and I immediately saw the connection with Thai Massage.

Regarding sitting on the heels and feet going to sleep – no, this doesn’t happen to me. I think once you get more used to it, it also won’t happen to you.

There are quite a few supplemental videos in this course which show you lots of things about balance, positioning, exercises for Thai Massage therapists, etc. There is also lots of training throughout this course about modifying techniques for different body types, weights and sizes.

To put your mind at ease, here in Thailand pretty much all therapists are small women who weigh around 100-110 lbs. They all work on often much larger and heavier clients, and they are very effective with it. In Thai Massage you can make excellent use of body mechanics and your own body weight. There is no need to ever muscle the techniques. You will learn all that! Smile 

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Bianca Gilliam
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October 13, 2017 - 9:29 pm
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Module 2

Shama stated, “technique is just one part of the move that we are trying to learn,” in the beginning of this module. It became very evident to me what he meant when I practiced the Chi Machine on my partner. I definitely need more practice as I felt a bit of a struggle in the endurance department. I know once I learn how to sync my breath with the movements and begin to practice more regularly things will fall into place. Currently it doesn’t feel like a beautiful flow but I know I did not feel graceful in the beginning with yoga either. 

I was able to get my partners entire body rocking but I had a hard time keeping it going for longer than 30 seconds. Again, with practice and building my endurance this will become easier. My partner did mention that it felt like he was getting a nice back massage. Shama, are your feet moving at all? I felt a bit like I was moving my feet as much as I was moving my hips in order to get his whole body to move. When I watch you my body felt a bit like your body was moving in the second half when you are explaining to make sure that you focus on the clients hips. 

I was glad to hear the clarification between all of the different possible names of Thai Massage. One of the first massages I received was in a very small private practice. When I was leaving the woman gave me a small menu of her other services. One of which was Thai Yoga Massage which I asked about. I asked her if it was assisted yoga. She said sort of but not quite and left it at that. I was sort of confused on what it was. Later in life I received a Thai Massage and realized that a lot of the moves were deeper/assisted versions of what I practice in yoga. 

One thing I am wondering about is stretching your body while stretching the clients. When Shama demonstrated the hip opening technique he said to avoid having your leg too far from the clients or you will end up in a deep stretch yourself. Is this actually problematic? When my partner and I practice the few Thai Massage moves that we know we often do them in such a way that both of are getting a deep stretch. It did make me think about a later quote, “If you are not relaxed you cannot really focus on what you are doing because your body takes your attention away.”

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Shama
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October 13, 2017 - 10:21 pm
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Thai Massage is similar to yoga, but also very different in some ways. It is not partner yoga where both parties are doing something, and it takes effort from both of them. 

In Thai Massage the receiver is totally inactive. This is what makes it possible to achieve a deep state of relaxation and letting go. This is also what creates an ideal state for improved energy flow and healing.

On the giver’s side, you want to use the minimum amount of effort. The more effort you use, the less you can feel in your client’s body. If you want to develop sensitivity and intuition, then you need to let go of this idea that Thai Massage is some kind of workout that requires effort.

So there is no point in going into a deep stretch yourself as the giver in a session. You can do that in your yoga practice. In Thai Massage you should focus on creating the most amount of connection, energy flow and feeling, and that only happens if you work with least effort.

There are people who practice Thai Massage more in a partner yoga type fashion, or who use it purely as an applied yoga session. But this is not a massage anymore. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is something different from a deeply relaxing, healing and therapeutic session.

My understanding is that you will use Thai Massage in a massage establishment. If you do it regularly, several hours every day, then the only way to preserve longevity in this profession is to use the least effort.

Regarding the Chi machine – it doesn’t require endurance. It only requires the correct body mechanics, and then it is quite effortless unless you work on someone who is very heavy. The feet are not moving as much as the hips. You are pivoting on the feet, but the power for the movement comes only out of the hip. From your description it seems that you are using too much effort. This is quite normal in the beginning until you find the right rhythm which is effortless.

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Bianca Gilliam
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October 16, 2017 - 10:27 pm
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Module 3

This weekend I took part in a Thai massage class that was very interesting and non traditional. The teacher had been taught in the royal fashion rather than the tribal fashion. She explained that the royal fashion does not often use feet during the massage as it was a modality meant to be used on royalty. She has received from those who practice tribal and has begun to incorporate more of those feet based movements in her massage. She has come up with her own style of massage that is a mixture of Thai, Ashiatsu, and Shiatsu. I mentioned I was taking this class and showed them the Chi Machine and demonstrated the foot massage on my partner. The foot massage that was taught in that class was very similar but did not perform the massage on both feet at the same time. My partner really enjoyed the massage from the video lesson as both feet were worked on at the same time. 

I found the movements required for me while doing the massage (moving in a counter clockwise position) were rather hypnotic. I was really able to tune in and be present while also feeling like I was dancing. It felt really beautiful and I was excited to be tapping into the art form/creation you have talked about in the videos. I was also able to tap into my breath, breathing in at the top of the circle and breathing out as I moved forward/formed the bottom half of the movement/circle. I will need to continue to practice in order to remember all of the moves in the foot massage. 

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Shama
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October 17, 2017 - 6:31 pm
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Couple of comments here: The pure royal style NEVER uses feet – no exception. Actually the royal style is severely limited as the therapist can only sit on the side of the royal client and never be on top of the client. The therapist’s position is ergonomically terrible. The royal style is not practical at all, and it is very limited in what can be done with it.

The “tribal style” is a misnomer. Thailand is not a tribal society. The correct word would be the “commoner style” which is what typical Thai Massage is. This is much more flexible, much better for the therapist and much more versatile for the client.

The very next next module will help you a lot in remembering all the foot massage techniques.

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Bianca Gilliam
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October 20, 2017 - 8:33 pm
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Module 4

Sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed with all of the things to focus on when practicing- ergonomics, breath, healing touch, sequence- but as you stated the beginning of learning something is the hardest. So far my own body mechanics/ergonomics has been the most challenging. I love that this work is forcing me to focus on engaging my core and continually paying attention to my own posture in order to best serve the client. 

I am currently trying to develop a flow and make the moves into something that feels more like a dance. The conceptual learning taught in this module was very helpful. It allowed me a little freedom with the foot massage but also gave me a starting point/check list to use while performing the foot massage. I have found that I am not always performing in the same sequence as you but still making sure to move the foot in all of the different directions. 

I also really like practicing the new finger movements and my partner found them to be very relaxing and relieving. He bikes over 50 miles a week and his ankles were thankful for the extra love. 

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Shama
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October 20, 2017 - 11:32 pm
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You can’t expect that all the elements of good Thai Massage will fall into place right in the beginning of the course. However they WILL fall into place and WILL feel like second nature after a few months of practice and experience.

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Bianca Gilliam
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October 24, 2017 - 11:50 pm
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Module 5

Learning the concepts behind each technique has been very useful to me in practicing. Knowing that you can do what you did to the feet to both the legs and the arms/hands is really useful and helpful. 

Knowing that this practice is not a rigid practice where you mechanically perform one technique after another is really wonderful. It also helps me in understanding the importance of warming up the muscles before stretching/working on them at a deeper level. Flexibility does not come without patience. 

I am still working on my posture and ergonomics. The breath work is very important in helping guide me and my body into the right positions. I love when you instruct us on when to breathe in and breathe out. I also really loved the information on how to adjust for those who may not be as flexible as others. I kept wondering how I would do some of the techniques with my fiance who has areas of great tightness. Sliding a pillow under his knee has helped immensely and also allows him to feel like he can relax and allow for more release. 

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Shama
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October 25, 2017 - 5:46 pm
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Yes, Thai Massage, or at least my style of it, is not a one-size-fits all mechanical sequence, but a living, breathing, flowing style of working on people in a creative and intuitive way. My motto is this: The techniques are options to choose from, not mandatory sequences.

The sequences are very useful and are the necessary way to learn in the beginning, but sooner or later you will be able to work more intuitively rather than rigidly.

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