I re-read the instruction manual again and was reminded that you prefer posts via the forum so everyone can benefit. So here is another, hopefully not too long-winded question.
I had mentioned in an e-mail to you that a client of mine lived in Thailand with his wife for several years. He said he lived in Udon Thani, where the use of overhead bars is common, according to him. You already explained your position on the use of overhead bars to me via e-mail, and I was very relieved that I don't really have to worry about getting any for now in order to practice a good Thai Massage. However, I am curious as to your interpretation on Thai Massage practiced in different regions of Thailand. In a previous course I learned about a distinction between Southern and Northern style. You had mentioned that there are many ways to describe Thai Massage, including Northern, Southern, Traditional, Thai Yoga etc., but yet they are really all describing the same thing, Thai Massage.
The style I learned previously was from the late Lek Chaiya from Chiang Mai, who had developed her own interpretation, called Nerve Touch Massage. Your style is an "evolved", non-traditional style that emphasizes therapist ergonomics as well as effectiveness of technique, based on the foundations of the traditional approach. As someone who is not as familiar as you with the whole culture, and all the negative things that come along with the commercialization of this art, how can I best define my place as a therapist practicing Thai Massage? Should I look at it like a cooking style, where different regions of a country have different ways to prepare the same dish, but they are still from that country, for example Northern Italian versus Southern Italian, but it is all still Italian? Or should I look at it like music, where there are certain genres and when artists step out of their familiar a genre, it does not always sit well with the purists. Some artists blend genres or even create new ones, after all that is what art is all about, it evolves as an expression of our lives and times. Or maybe I am overthinking all of this and already wrote way too much. Can't wait to hear your wisdom in the matter.
Regarding the new modules, I am still trying to figure out how that will all work. We are still in the process of recording modules. Give me a few weeks and I will have a better idea.
Regarding the different styles - many good therapists develop their own style and their way of working. Some of my more influential teachers like Pichet, Chayuth, and Poo all had their very own and unique styles. And they never said that it was northern or southern style. It was just their style.
I am not big on labeling styles. When people ask me what style I am practicing, I tell them that it is my own style. If you identify your work with a particular style, then someone will say "but such and such is saying that it's supposed to be done this way in xyz style".
Nobody can tell me that I am not adhering to whatever style, since I don't identify with any style. I really have developed my own unique style. So for me this whole issue about what style it is doesn't matter. Sure, Lek Chaya had her own style and so do many good Thai Massage therapists.
Ultimately it is just semantics. You can study any style, and if you are intuitive, creative, and accumulate lots of experience, you will get good at what you are doing. Specific styles can become a limitation. I prefer to be creative and do whatever works best for me.
If that's something from the southern style, so be it. If I like a technique from Shiatsu, I'll add that in. If I learn something valuable from Chi Nei Tsang for abdominal work, I use that. If it's an element from yoga therapy and it fits in, I'll include it. And if someone insists on giving it a label, they can call it the "Shama style".
Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective on the "style issue". I could not agree with you more and I can see that applied in your instruction. It is liberating in so many ways. Regarding module 28, I was most delighted with the technique of placing the elevated shoulder between my knees and using body leverage again to release tightness and restrictions. There is a magic to rhythmical gentle rocking which I like to infuse for this one especially. Even the tightest shoulder blades are willing to give at least a little bit - as one wise teacher said, " You take what the body gives you that day, and then you get back to it later."
With so many people working for long endless hours in a sitting position, the sideways sitting on the adductors position is such a treat, it is powerful, effective, and yet easy on the therapist. It seems like with every module I have a new favorite, this has to be one for sure. I usually like to start at the belly of the muscle, then work on the area away from the most discomfort first and last to the area of the worst discomfort, for example if a client has knee pain, I will start in the middle of the thigh, next to the groin and then towards just above the knee or vice versa, if client has more initial discomfort in the groin area, I work the middle, then above knee and towards groin area last. I love how easy this is for the therapist, of course with some practice. It is indeed a dance.
I agree that this technique (sitting on adductors for muscle release in Module 29) and a few others, can not only freak out the clients but also the therapist. Bodywork is a very intimate art, with therapists getting very close to a client's "safe zones". That is why it is of the utmost importance to always be professional, to be sensitive and mindful of a client's limitations, to take the time to earn a client's trust, and to carefully groom one's self confidence as a therapist. Some techniques may be better used in a session down the road with a client, once he/she has learned to trust the therapist to do no harm. It can be quite tempting to try to impress a client with all manner of fancy technique which may have the opposite effect. Some things just take time, trust is surely one of them.
On to Module 30 ...
The saying goes " there are many roads that lead to Rome ..." and so it is with relieving back aches. Many techniques have elaborated and fancied their way into our "therapist's" toolbox. This module's side-lying techniques, especially the rhythmical rocking, which resembles the galloping technique/rhythm from previous module, surprised me in the level of relief and comfort it provided. But then again, I kind of just knew it would do that just watching. It just seems like such a natural rhythmical, unwinding flow, no wonder it does so much magic. Another favorite of mine. And then, as if I had not said enough already, ..., since Basketball Season has started and I am a fan of the San Antonio Spurs, I guess my favorite techniques are kind of like the "Star Players" but yet it is a team sport, so it is not one technique or another technique, it is the team of techniques that makes the magic happen.
Your first paragraph is a good synopsis of working with clients. The last module in this course is all about that, by the way.
Impressing clients with fancy techniques is generally counterproductive. In my actual massage work I generally get the best results with simple techniques that would never make it on the cover of any massage magazine.
Thai Massage, just like yoga, lends itself to pictures of "flashy" or "impressive" poses. They do have their purpose, but in actual practice they are not used as much as simple looking, but effective techniques.
Taking a little extra time to "rock the shoulder" before applying the techniques is really helpful with clients who have "concrete" shoulder or who are guarding too much and can't let go. I have also incorporated some of the techniques into my work on the table and clients respond very well to the rocking rhythmical dance.
This module is the perfect example of why I love Thai Massage so much. I work traditionally on a table with clients presenting all sorts of shoulder problems. I am always exhilarated when I find a better way to reach into tough, resilient "soft" tissue. This module's side-lying positions while working on the scapula/kerrie-rundes-thai-massage-shoulder-therapy-course-notes make me want to sing and dance. It seems so natural and makes perfect sense - especially the work from behind the client in side-lying position, working along the border of the scapula, and I expand this technique into the erectors and rhomboids, which are usually in great need of release as well. I got a great kick out of the technique of being above the client while hooking/pulling into to scapula upward. This is a delight for any therapist that has had to chisel away concrete from muscles.
The traction move in this module was so exiting to try. It is a powerful stretch but I confess I did use a flat square pillow between myself and the male client. I use it also when stabilizing a client's back that is very thin and bony, or fragile, to have a little "cushion" from my knee for the client. It does not seem to take away from their experience so far. Furthermore, the concept of not having to end a session in the "traditional sitting position" was very "liberating" again, just because it seems to be so much more magical to end in the supine position, with a relaxing gentle closing of the session.
Everything in this module was very helpful. I never thought of providing a blanket for the client during a Thai Massage, when I always have an extra blanket handy for work on the table. It was also good to review the different ways people learn, as a reminder to sharpen my awareness. Well, I freed my mind during this course and it was refreshing, exhilarating, liberating and I am very happy that I took this course. After reviewing the videos again and checking for any questions I missed in the exam, my next question is which of your courses do you recommend for me after this one and in which order?
I think one of my main contributions to the world of Thai Massage is the great variety of rocking moves that I came up with. So the Thai Rocking Massage course would be a great addition since that goes much further into it.
Then I am also very partial to the Heavenly Head Massage course. That's something quite unique and also gives you lots of specialized neck work which is just not available in Thai Massage otherwise. Plus you can use this course as a stand alone massage modality.