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Casey Hurlburt's Complete Thai Massage Course Notes
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Casey Hurlburt
West Palm Beach & NYC
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May 25, 2020 - 6:22 am
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Module 1

I am so excited about this course. I am actually on Module 7 because I just jumped right into the course this past week and started practicing these Thai massage techniques that Shama is teaching!

Rewatching Module 1, I love that this first module really sets an intention of being present with the client. It's a theme that I have recognized throughout the videos so far and one that I think makes such a difference in the client's experience. I recently told a fellow massage therapist friend who worked on me, "You are such an amazing therapist - You have a lot of knowledge and experience, but I think 90% of what makes you so good is that I can really feel that you care through your touch."

Shama stresses, "Don't sweat the technique" and really try to get the essence of what's happening. There's definitely techniques to learn. But most importantly, I am focusing on getting comfortable with these movements so that I can be at ease while I work because the client can really feel when the therapist is in flow.

I'm lucky that I am an avid yoga practitioner so a lot of the positions are already comfortable for me in my body, so I am just getting used to working with clients in this new way on the floor.

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Casey Hurlburt
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May 25, 2020 - 6:38 am
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Module 2

Rewatching module 2 and thinking back on practicing this module. I definitely haven't started feeling the "artist" aspect yet, where the moves begin to feel like a dance.

I am spending a lot of time watching and rewatching transitions so that I can get really comfortable with them. I look forward to the time when everything clicks and it begins to feel like a flow or dance.

I am happy that Shama stresses the importance of ease for the practitioner, both for the longevity of the practitioners career as well as for the sake of the clients having a good experience.

The Chi machine is really fun! My boyfriend didn't seem to feel too interested in it but my other practice partner was really into it! She said she felt the tingling and the energy flowing, my boyfriend said it was kind of relaxing but he didn't feel the tingling.

I love doing the Chi machine, I want to try to get one of my friends to do it to me so I can feel it too.

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Shama Kern
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May 26, 2020 - 1:41 am
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Hi Casey, welcome to the Complete Thai Massage certification program. Please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification checklist to make sure that it is all correctly organized:

Certification Checklist

Feeling the artist and feeling the flow cannot reasonably be expected in the early stages of the program, so don't put pressure on yourself about that. This typically starts to happen in the last third of the course or so when you don't have to think about all the technical details so much anymore.

By the way, I have often experienced that women feel the effect of the Chi Machine more so than men. Similarly women are often more receptive and more willing to be nurtured in massage than men are. So your experience with your boyfriend and your female friend is fairly typical.

I am looking forward to following your progress through this course. Smile

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Casey Hurlburt
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May 28, 2020 - 1:53 am
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Module 3

I've gone over this module several times, practicing the sequence for the feet. I'm starting to feel more confident, again I will continue to practice because I know it will take time to really grasp the technique. Especially the one moving in circular motions.

I think that makes sense what you said about men and women experiencing the chi machine differently! I've also done the Chi machine again several more times on my boyfriend while doing other practices and he seems to be becoming more open to it the more he's used to it.

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Casey Hurlburt
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May 28, 2020 - 2:17 am
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Module 4

The foot sequence in module 3 is a really nice foundational introduction to the feet and module 4 revisits this sequence but with a focus on the concept. This was a really helpful way to grasp the foot work, I thought. After practicing along with the video several times, I am now able to keep revisiting this sequence just by recalling the eight main movements of the foot.

I'm not exactly sure how this will all look in a full body treatment at this point, which I think is ok for now. As you said, I won't do all the techniques in every session. For now, I am practicing all of them, just to get a feel for what feels good for me. I'm also taking note of different feedback I'm getting between different practice partners.

Now that you've mentioned that women are generally more receptive to being nurtured in massage, I'm noticing that difference in what my female friend has said she likes vs my boyfriend and what he likes. I think it's good to get feedback from both because things I thought maybe I wasn't doing well or right, in some instances I think it's just not what my boyfriend is used to receiving in massage. It's interesting!

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Shama Kern
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May 28, 2020 - 3:00 pm
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I am glad to hear that you can confirm my observations about how men and women react to massage.

Regarding how it looks like when you do a full body treatment, you will see that soon. There are several 'summary sessions' in this course which show exactly that - how to put it all together as in a real session.

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Casey Hurlburt
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June 12, 2020 - 1:30 am
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Module 5

I am feeling a bit of a flow with this module. I did it probably 4 or 5 times last week and now revisiting it again after some time somehow I think it sunk in even more! I'm also figuring out what parts work best for me/which client I'm working on. For example I think that working on my boyfriend, who is quite a bit bigger than me, more of the techniques in module 6 are better. I also think that for certain clients who are more modest or who I'm not as comfortable being so close to, I'll prefer the techniques in module 5 and fewer of the ones from 6. Mainly, the thigh muscle techniques.

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Casey Hurlburt
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June 12, 2020 - 1:34 am
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Module 6

I just revisited these two modules in succession. The same goes for this module, I felt more of a flow than I remember feeling when practicing these techniques in the beginning.

I did need to practice more closely, as always, the transitions. I think getting the transitions down will be the key to really finding a flow with Thai massage. I like the techniques in this module because of the use of forearms. It's a lot more comfortable and I think sustainable for me and my hands in the long term. Even when working on smaller clients I think I will default more to the techniques in module 6. But, again, I'm grateful to have the techniques in module 5 for the more modest clients.

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Shama Kern
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June 12, 2020 - 8:14 pm
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That's what you will need to do with all the Thai Massage material - decide what works best for you and for your client, i.e being creative, intuitive, and adapt to situations. On the other end of the spectrum are those Thai Massage therapists who have one routine, the one-size-fits-all routine, and that's what everyone gets. That's quite a limiting scenario.

With Swedish massage you can pretty much use the same routine on most everyone, but that doesn't work with Thai Massage because of all those body manipulations and stretches. In Thai Massage you are forced to work differently on a very stiff and very heavy client than on a light and flexible one. That's a recurring theme throughout this course.

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Casey Hurlburt
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June 18, 2020 - 3:47 am
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Module 7

This was a nice little window into some condition specific work. Although my massage partner's hips were almost perfectly aligned. Maybe I'm working on him too much! Lol. I still practiced the technique, of course, but unfortunately I didn't see much of a difference in his hip alignment. I will have to try it again on another friend.

I REALLY like the feet on the hamstrings technique. I've been practicing that a lot and it's been a favorite of a couple of my friends I've practiced on as well. I also enjoyed the modification for that technique. That one I don't feel 100% comfortable with, but I will continue to practice it because I think it will be really beneficial. I love that you can do it with no hands, definitely want to get that one down pat.

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Casey Hurlburt
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June 18, 2020 - 4:05 am
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Module 8

The concept of the "hip pie" will be useful in remembering to work on all the parts of the leg without needing to stick to a strict sequence. Like you mentioned before, the "one routine" route can be very limiting.

The rocking and rubbing, generally, is not something I utilize much in my massage practice. But I have been embracing and enjoying this aspect of Thai Massage and I've also been getting positive feedback with it.

The hip stretch is also really nice. You are so good at teaching good body mechanics. I've talked to some of my peers (other massage therapists) about Thai Massage and some feedback I got was that they didn't like picking people up and moving them around. I think if they took your class they might feel differently because you really show how to use our own body weight so as not to stress our bodies.

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Shama Kern
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June 18, 2020 - 1:09 pm
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Thanks for that observation. It probably helps that I spent 20 years in Thailand where most Thai Massage therapists are small and light women. They all manage to move much larger men all over the place. This would be either impossible or a huge strain if they wouldn't know how to use their body weight properly. So I was always very aware of this, being exposed to it all the time.

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Casey Hurlburt
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July 9, 2020 - 9:27 pm
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Module 9

I was lucky to get to practice this module on both a small woman and a very tall man. So I got to practice the variation with the hamstring stretch over the shoulder as well. What a difference working on someone small vs someone large! I'm glad you have some good variations that will come in handy when working with larger people.

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Casey Hurlburt
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July 9, 2020 - 9:35 pm
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Module 10

I was a little nervous about doing the blood stop. Luckily, my partner was familiar with it so she helped me feel more comfortable doing it. And I got really good feedback! She said exactly the outcome that you said would happen. I'm sure it's not surprising to you but it was pretty exciting for me when she felt the warm blood flowing back into her leg.

I practiced this module on a small woman but I still found that I liked using my knee with my hand. Again, I really love all the variations of using different body parts to achieve the same stretches.

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Casey Hurlburt
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July 9, 2020 - 9:37 pm
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Module 11

This was a great review to go over a lot of the techniques we've learned thus far. It really helped me to start to feel like I could put the moves together and begin to sense the "dance" that you've been talking about. I definitely still have a long way to go before I feel completely comfortable but I feel like I got a window into that sensation following you in this manner. Thank you!

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Shama Kern
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July 9, 2020 - 11:33 pm
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A couple more months, and the dance will be your own! Smile

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Casey Hurlburt
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February 14, 2023 - 6:31 am
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Module 12

After a long break, I am happy to be back to complete my Thai certification!

I found the second variation calf stretch to be the most comfortable for me, probably because my practice client was larger than me. I tried the little calf/hip/double-knee-to-chest sequence you showed. I have a long torso, but I could see how pressing the feet against my abdomen with some clients won't work.

The elephant walking on the knees for the sacrum stretch was really cool! What a creative way to access the sacrum. My practice client loved that.

I found the hip/piriformis stretch by doing circular movements to be more appropriate for my practice client.

I look forward to practicing and getting more comfortable with Thai massage!

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Shama Kern
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February 14, 2023 - 9:34 am
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Welcome back, Casey. Smile

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Casey Hurlburt
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February 17, 2023 - 4:56 am
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Module 13

I am glad you emphasize the importance of checking in with the client and assessing pain levels. My client did not experience pain in the hip flexor. However, I still practiced the techniques you showed to help with hip flexor pain. I can see how helpful it is to differentiate between sharp pain and be sure to honor "bad" pain. And to not lean into that bad pain, but also not completely give up on the area because of it.

Differentiating between good and bad pain and trying to understand it as completely as possible is also a concept I use in my Swedish massage practice.

This module really helped to show me that there are so many ways to help the client feel supported. It always feels a little dismissive when a massage therapist abandons an area just because what they were doing initially wasn't working. As a client, it feels really good to work with a therapist who doesn't give up but really tries to work within the client's needs.

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Shama Kern
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February 17, 2023 - 8:39 am
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You definitely grasped the whole idea about pain and working on painful spots. But then again, you are not a newbie. Smile

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