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Christopher Nunn - Thai Massage Course Log
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christophernunn
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May 4, 2013 - 11:17 am
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I’m really excited to be enrolled in this course.  I’ve looked for a perfect fit, and I’m sure I’ve found it.  I really appreciate your style and care in your work!

I’ve watched all the mini-course modules that’ve arrived, and I’ve watched the complete course’s modules 1, 2, and 3.

I appreciate that you consider this work an art rather than a list of movements, as you mentioned in the first module.  I, too, feel so.

I was really excited to get to module 2 and try the Chi Machine, particularly after I read others’ notes on this forum.  I watched the video a couple of times, and I enjoyed trying the Chi Machine on my partner.  Sorry to say it didn’t go well!  He felt like a huge, heavy board I was trying to swing!

I wasn’t discouraged at all.  I know this takes practice.  Funny thing is I mentioned in his presence at the gym the next day that he seemed awful stiff when I tried the Chi Machine.  He laughed and said “Well, you didn’t tell me to RELAX!”  I counted that as great feedback.  He was correct.  I never told him to relax.

That night, we tried the Chi Machine again.  I added a little hip rocking prior to the Chi Machine.  It was amazing, really.  I could feel an incredible difference in his hips. I was surprised, actually, that I could feel such a difference from just a night before.

The quality of your videos is high, and I’m really enjoying learning from you.  I’m anxious to try tomorrow night the work I’ve been studying in module 3.  My partner is looking forward to it, too.

I’m supplementing the learning from this video course with reading (Encyclopedia of Thai Massage, etc.) and live classes.  I hope all of the live classes are as well done as the video work of yours!

I’ll post soon about our practice with module 3.

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May 4, 2013 - 10:27 pm
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I am glad you joined the course, Christopher!

Although it seems curious that you had to tell you partner to relax, this actually happened to me many times. Not specifically with the Chi Machine, but with all kinds of moves. Sometimes clients just don’t realize how locked up they are, and I have to remind them to relax. 

If you do Swedish massage, this is not so obvious since the client is not moving, but in Thai massage it becomes very obvious since there is so much movement involved, and therefore much more possible ways to resist or lock up. This can be very helpful for perceptive therapists since because of this it is often much easier for you to figure out where the client’s holding pattern is hiding (from their own awareness!).

Thai Massage brings issues to the surface which are harder to detect in less motion intensive massage systems.

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May 12, 2013 - 9:38 am
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I’ve practiced Chi Machine several more times with my partner in the past week, and I’m feeling a great deal more successful with it.  One thing, though, is that I worry some that I’m using too much muscle strength with the Chi Machine.  I’m pretty body-aware.  I don’t feel like a gentle sway on my knees is giving enough of a move to my partner, so I’ve held the feet up some and offered a little more swing now and then.  I can see a huge difference in the movement of my partner’s body, of course, but I’m not sure I should be going that direction.  I wonder if I will notice my partner loosening more over time and will not need to give a bit more swing by muscling it.  What are your thoughts?

As the foot modules came, I got a little intimidated and then really started to appreciate that you provide new material slowly.  I think if the videos came at once I would get very lost.  As such, hats off to you on the decision to send a slow, steady stream of content.   

I’ve been watching each video several times (maybe 5 or six times all said) and making notes.  After a practice session I return to the notes and videos for review.  These reviews and my supplemental reading have kept me busy, for sure, but I’m feeling more and more confident with the learning.

Some notes about modules 2 and 3, specifically…

I didn’t think I would like feet; I love them, though.  I have a touch of a foot hangup, to tell you the truth, and I wondered how comfortable I’d be massaging feet.  I could really tell that my partner started to relax and release a lot of tension as I was massaging the feet. I loved seeing and feeling that happen!  It felt good to care for someone to the point that they relax away some.

You mentioned that the pushing out of the feet while moving in a circular pattern might take some practice to find the rhythm.  Certainly, I’ve found this true.  I found this move much, much more difficult than the Chi Machine with which I’d previously struggled.  I’ll enjoy practicing this more and finding that rhythm.

I appreciated instruction on using the whole body to push the feet down.  It was the first time I’d really needed to pay attention to my position and make sure I was using my weight instead of muscle (outside of the Chi Machine as noted above).  I’m happy that this position felt very natural for me.  I could feel the push in such a different way than if I’d muscled it, and doing that move was the first time I felt my partner and I connected in this work.  It was nice.

Entering this study, I was a little apprehensive about some of the transitions and positions, wondering if I might be a bit clumsy at times and struggle with some of the movements.  I found the instruction on the transition to support the client’s legs quite thorough and never felt awkward or out of sync as I practiced it.  That has been refreshing.

When rotating the leg and applying compression/traction, I have felt somewhat awkward wondering if I am pulling and pushing at the right times.  I keep having to look at the video again to refresh my memory.  Can you tell me a little about compression and traction and rotation?  I’d like to know more about how choices are made in direction rotation and when to push or pull.  Or is this part of the art that I’ll just get later?

I enjoyed the bit of review offered in the second foot video.  It was helpful even though I’d seen the first video several times.  I was kind of glad there were only a few new moves offered so that I could add just a few to my learning and practice and not feel overwhelmed with 7 or 8 new things at once, especially right here at the beginning.

Interestingly, I haven’t felt the same about the leg videos I’ve been watching (but not yet practiced).  I’m all about catching on to these new moves.  Maybe I’m just getting used to the learning and am getting enough familiarity that I’m not so intimidated.  I’m looking forward to legs!

My partner seems to enjoy the almost daily massages, but I’m going to be starting to practice with a couple other people in the next week.  I’d like to make sure I’m practicing a lot and that I have some diversity in partners so I can get new feedback and scaffold the learning more.

I bought some insurance this week, too.Laugh

Christopher

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May 12, 2013 - 11:32 pm
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Regarding the two leg warm up videos, I wonder if you suggest following the hand sequence and following with the forearm sequence or if you suggest integrating the two. 

My assumption is that — for practice — I should go in the order of the video presentations to gain some understanding but combine the two in actual work with a partner after I’ve practiced some.  Or is it that one would warm first with the hands and then the forearms in separate sequences? 

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May 13, 2013 - 2:45 am
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Before I tackle your mega post, I first have to get a good night’s sleep (it’s 2 am in Thailand now), eat a good breakfast and take some brain tonic. Laugh

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May 13, 2013 - 6:52 am
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Surprised

Goodness.  I didn’t even notice how long it was!  Sorry!  Brevity must not be my strength!  Smile

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May 14, 2013 - 1:53 am
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Re: Chi Machine – the movement does not come from a  gentle swaying of your legs, but from a flowing but distinct movement of your entire midsection. It’s kind of like wiggling your bum sideways at a fairly rapid speed which makes your entire body, including your legs, vibrate rapidly. Sure you can intensify the movement of your client by lifting the feet up, but if you are doing that to compensate for a lack of correct technique while your partner’s feet are resting on your legs, then you are only going from incorrect to worse by using muscle power instead of natural body movement.

Try this: Imagine your belly is full of liquid and you are trying to slosh it around quite strongly by wiggling your bum and hip sideways. Then only focus on getting the hip of your partner to move. Don’t lift the feet up. Your feeling in your body should be something like when a wet dog shakes itself and the water goes flying off it. I realize you don’t know how the dog feels, but try imitating the movement somehow. These might not be highly scientific analogies, but I hope they will help you get the feeling for the move. The Chi Machine should not be muscle move at all.

Re: Course delivery speed. Yes, the slow delivery is what makes this a real training program and sets it apart from all other online Thai Massage training courses. Sending someone a big DVD with hundreds of techniques is almost an invitation to failure since few people will go through it all methodically and consistently.

Re: watching the videos several time. This is really good that you are watching them several times. I can guarantee that watching them only once is almost as good as not watching them at all. Thai Massage is a pretty intense study program with much more movement and technique involved than Swedish massage for example. It does take time to learn. That’s why this course is spread out over 4 months. You are going about it the right way.

Re: foot work. Many people have a ‘foot hang up’ initially. The best way to get over it is to get a really good and enjoyable foot massage. I don’t mean a painful therapeutic reflexology session, but a ‘drift off into lala land’ session. I am addicted to good foot massage which I get very regularly here in Thailand (not difficult at $5 per hour).

The Chi Machine and the circular foot massage technique are two of the more difficult techniques to learn. The good news is that it doesn’t get any more difficult than that. Worst case scenario is that you have to skip a particular technique or set it aside until later when your body is really in sync with the Thai Massage movements.

Don’t let one technique stop you from progressing or don’t obsess about one technique. There are hundreds of them in this course. Rome was not built in one day, and you won’t learn perfect Thai Massage in a couple of weeks. So be patient with yourself. Sooner or later it will all click for you.

It is perfectly normal to feel a little clumsy or awkward when doing a technique for the first time. There is also nothing wrong with setting a technique aside for a while and coming back to it at a later time.

I get the feeling that you are developing a good sense for the techniques already. It will all get easier the further you get into the training. The foundation and the basic principles will remain the same for all the techniques. The finesse will develop with time.

The compression/traction techniques are helpful since they accomplish something which otherwise never happens: They counteract the constant effect of gravity by creating space and openness in joints for a moment. 

Practicing a lot and on several partners is key to your success, so you are on the right track. I hope that you will never need your insurance! Smile

Initially it is good to follow the sequence in the videos, but the more you learn the less you will need to follow specific sequences. In the end it is all about creating a piece of art, not a mechanical construct. Thai Massage should feel like a dance, not like a set of prescribed sequences.

Over time you will find out which are your preferred techniques, which techniques fit which kind of body type best, and which techniques you need to avoid on certain people. This is a matter of experience. 

I mix and match a lot in my sessions. I might do only the hand warm up on a light client, or only forearm work on large clients (to preserve my hands), or use them both. There is no hard and fast rule. All the techniques are options to choose from depending on the individual circumstances, not mandatory sequences.

Granted, sequences are a good way to learn the techniques, but they are not a goal in themselves. Some sequences really are the best way to do something, and some can be changed or modified. For example, I often only use leg rocking techniques and skip all others. This works especially well when I detect that someone has stiff hips. In such cases the warm up of the legs and the rocking are an ideal combination since the hip is in constant movement.

However on a flexible yogi with open hips I might not do the leg rocking at all but instead use the hand techniques with more sustained pressure. So there are many different scenarios, but for now I suggest you learn by following the sequence in the videos. Once the techniques have become second nature, you will spontaneously choose the appropriate ones.  

 

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May 14, 2013 - 7:00 am
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Thank you for your patient, thorough, and amazing feedback.

 

C

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May 18, 2013 - 10:06 am
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I have had a great week of practice.  Really enjoyable.

I was lucky to get a $1000 worth of gymnastics mats that are perfect for this work for just $100 this week.  I couldn’t believe the deal when my trainer contacted me to share that he’d seen it.  I got so lucky.

I practiced the leg warm ups and felt pretty confident.  I don’t find it hard to use my whole body, actually; it’s easy for me to remember.  Some of the moves that involve me being tucked between the legs do feel a little awkward but mostly because I’m not used to being tucked between legs of friends like that.  I’m sure my comfort will increase in time.

This week, I enjoyed doing my first practice with a person who doesn’t live in my house.  It was nice to get a perspective different from my regular partners.  I worked on my CrossFit trainer, so he was able to share plenty of feedback about MY body positions in addition to how he was feeling.

You last feedback about Chi Machine — to imagine my belly full of liquid — was spot on.  I am really improving on this move.

And I felt that, for the first time, I really clicked with the foot stretch that involves rocking in a circle.  I am starting to find my rhythm.

I’ve watched both of the leg stretch videos a couple times each, but I haven’t tried them yet.  I’ll watch again for notetaking and give them a whirl this week.  I’m really looking forward to them.

Thanks again for your work.  What a great course.

C

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May 20, 2013 - 1:55 am
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I am glad my Chi Machine tip hit the spot.

You are getting good feedback from your trainer – this is very helpful. With good feedback you can speed up the learning curve considerably.

There are several ‘unusual’ sitting positions in Thai Massage. After a while you will get used to them and it will feel completely natural.

It’s a good sign that you take well to working with your entire body and with a natural rhythm. I had quite a few massage therapists in my live classes who were so used to work with muscle effort that it took them a lot of effort to retrain themselves. 

You will hear me talk a lot about using body weight, working with your entire body, flowing in a natural rhythm etc. I use a concept called the “Anatomy of a massage move” which I gradually introduce during the course.

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June 3, 2013 - 8:34 am
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My practice has been a little hit and miss for about 9 days.  I suffered a bad sinus infection, and now my training partner has an injury (bad bruising with knots from juijitsu).  I have, however, been able to work through the leg movements with two other training partners from my gym.  That was helpful to stay on track.

I found the legs challenging and was starting to feel a little overwhelmed at the number of movements; however, I took your advice and only focused on those that seemed comfortable.  I was able to practice different ones on each partner, getting practice in all of the leg movements.  That was nice.

I’m becoming much more comfortable with the learning.  You’ll remember this is new for me, and I’m an old dog learning a new trick.  I’m seeing the patterns in this work more clearly now that I’m 1/3 in.  I’m feeling pretty good about it.

I have watched a couple times each the summary and two hips videos, but I haven’t yet practiced them.  I have a session scheduled for Wednesday to work on my CrossFit trainer with those moves. I’m really interested in hips, so I’m looking forward to those.

You noted in video 12 or 13 that some anatomy learning might be helpful.  I’d already started on that path and wanted to mention the resource I’m using:  Stretching Anatomy.  I bought it for Kindle.  It’s amazing.  The illustrations are so clear and helpful.  Maybe you or another student might enjoy this recommendation.

My reading of the Encyclopedia of Thai Massage and Thai Massage: A Traditional Medical Technique continues to help, too, although I don’t really practice as instructed in those books as I’ve chosen to just focus on your teaching for now.  The …Traditional Medical Technique book is amazing and very similar to your teaching.  I will certainly be supplementing my practice with learning from that.

Can’t wait to try your back massage class after I complete this one this fall.

Enjoy your day!

Christopher

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June 5, 2013 - 7:59 pm
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This is generally the typical pattern. The beginning of the course can be a little overwhelming while everything is so new and different. Once you are into the course for a good while you begin to find your ‘groove’. You discover that many of the things which you learned in the beginning are applicable to the entire course. At that point the overwhelm subsides. I think most of my students go through this.

That’s the big reason why I release the course slowly – one module every three days. Can you imagine getting the whole thing all at once and trying to sort through it!

Regarding anatomy, I have shied away from it in this course for two reasons. I did not want to make the learning difficult for the students who are not native English speakers (quite a few). Full blown anatomical terminology is like another language.

Second I want to make sure that my students focus on the energetic aspect of Thai Massage, on the “anatomy of a massage move”, and not just see the body as a collection of anatomical parts.

It is a good idea to learn anatomy although most native therapists in Thailand have absolutely no idea about it, and they can still do a great job. In some of my latest therapy courses like Thai Back Massage, Knee therapy and Thai Massage for Sciatica (not released yet) I have included quite a lot of anatomy training. Personally I have quite a pile of anatomy books in my library.

If you supplement the training with other resources, this can add even more value to the training. Learning never stops. I keep coming up with new training all the time, and so far I have never run out of ideas yet.

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June 9, 2013 - 9:33 am
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I have been able to complete the legs and hips work with a couple new partners.  Wow!

Both of my partners are gym mates, and I practiced on them where I will one day provide services — inside my gym.  I must say, I’m excited.

I am finding learning and practicing to be much easier the further I am into the course.  I’m certainly starting to feel settled in.

I don’t have any questions, really, about those leg and hip movements right now.  I KNOW I will have questions about the abdominal work.  I haven’t practiced it yet, and I’m a little apprehensive.

I mentioned before that I am a teacher.  I have one last week of school before summer break.  I am excited that the break will bring a lot of practice.

I’m all set up inside my gym for offering free one-hour massage and feedback sessions.  My mates are ready to go, too!  I am offering about 12 hours a week in sessions where I will practice what I’ve learned so far on gym members and request their feedback.  By the end of the summer, I will be practicing the whole body.  

It will be great practice, especially considering that my goals with this learning.  I really only want to have a small part-time practice of maybe 15 sessions a month from my little studio in the gym, and I want to focus exclusively on folks involved in CrossFit and other functional fitness activities.

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June 11, 2013 - 11:46 pm
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Wow, I love it how you are so enthusiastic and determined about your practice. And you know exactly what you want to do with it all. I can only see you as successful with this program. Smile

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June 23, 2013 - 7:46 am
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Well, my study of Thai massage has moved into the realm of the amazing.  What great fun I am having.

I have settled into my summer vacation with my first week of offering free massage at my gym so I can practice.  I’ve been “starting with what I know” and adding moves every day.  I’m lucky to have a great space, great mats, and a lot of eager folks who will let me practice.  Here’s a link to our gym’s QuantumFit:Stretch program…http://qfitindy.com/?page_id=1275.  Take a look.  Yep, that’s me!  Yay!

I’m going slow and deep with my study.  I’ve not yet worked on arms and shoulders, but I’m adding it this week.  I continue to enjoy the videos and reading through the forum.  I was really anxious about the abdominal region — about as anxious as I have been in this study — but I was fine when I practiced.  No worries.

Today I had a couple of great sessions, including one gal with a hip that was really locked up.  I wasn’t even sure I could help her.  I gave it a try, and — well — here is the gal’s Facebook status a few hours later:  

“Had my first Thai stretching session with Christopher Nunn today. OMG…I can’t even begin to describe to u how good it was. My hip has been siezed up for about 4 weeks and causing me so much pain. I haven’t been able to work out and have felt/looked like an 80 year old when I get up. I MISS QuantumFit SOOOOO much! Frank…I’m gonna be seeing you real soon! One session with Christopher and so far I am pain free!!! Ahhhhhhhmazing!!!! Ready to get back to viking status!”

I’ve scheduled her two more times this week to work on her issue more.

More soon…

C

 

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June 24, 2013 - 8:56 pm
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I was so inspired when I read your post that I sent an email out to all my subscribers, telling them about your wonderful success story. You probably saw it and read it, I imagine.Smile

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June 24, 2013 - 9:55 pm
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I did see it!  I’m so glad you were inspired.

I connected with the gal again last night, and she says she remains pain-free.  I have another appointment with her tonight to continue my work.

I did two sessions yesterday, and each person — including one guy who was very apprehensive when we started — scheduled their next sessions immediately.  They just got on their phones, looked up my reservation calendar, and scheduled.

Folks love this stuff.

And it is amazing to provide the help.

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June 27, 2013 - 11:37 pm
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Yes, it is a wonderful feeling to be able to help folks. In my career I have often been able to help people who could not get their issues taken care of elsewhere. Thai Massage can do some pretty amazing things. The more you practice it, the more you will find out about its potential. It only gets better!

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June 28, 2013 - 11:45 pm
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I think I may have opened a can of worms!  Wow.

By offering my practice sessions to my gym mates for free for the summer, I have made a line of athletes ready to try.  I’m having a great time working with so many bodies, and I’m getting a ton of valuable practice time in.  This week I spent 17 hours in sessions.  Folks are pretty understanding of my interest in talking to them about where they feel the stretches, etc.  I am learning a TON about bodies and positions and such through these conversations.  

Folks are loving it.

This week, I had a couple challenges to overcome.  First, a dear friend of mine, truly one of my best, came for a session in a really bad space.  This was the first time I had a truly difficult time connecting with a receiver. His attitude was in the dumps, and I really struggled with helping him to relax and work with me.  I’d say it was the worst massage I ever gave, even worse than the first one I gave to my partner when I didn’t know a single thing.  I tried, and I tried.  I never did make a connection, though.  I suppose those clients will come, and I’m thankful to get to reflect on this situation to work on strategies for when clients arrive pretty sour.

Second, I had a gymnastics instructor in who was very flexible.  My experience has been with mostly muscle-bound men and larger women who aren’t as flexible.  This gal, though, was so flexible that I didn’t feel like I was stretching her no matter what I did.  I think she enjoyed the massage, but I worried some that she wasn’t getting a good stretch.  She left seeming happy, but I was a little concerned.

I’ll note that she is a serious consumer of Thai massage, and I invited her for a free session for feedback from an informed consumer.  She gets Thai massage a couple times a month from a few practitioners in town.  I was thrilled when — late in the night of her massage — she posted on Facebook that she’d had the best Thai massage she ever had at QuantumFit:Stretch earlier in the day.  

Yep.  That’s me.  🙂

I appreciated some of the instruction in the latest video on taking some of the quad stretches further.  Maybe her next visit can be stretchier.

Overall, I feel settled and confident.  I am loving working on folks at the gym after they’ve worked out.  I get some sweaty folks coming to me, but I kinda wanted that anyway.  It’s awesome to have a tired, worked-out fella come in, plop down, and appreciate the mobility work.  I feel it helps, and they are lining up for more.

I have four more weeks of up to 20 hours available each week in the gym before I go back to teaching art.  I’m really looking forward to sharing this work and learning more.

I wanted to note a couple things:  First, I’m amazed.  Kind of truly amazed at what I can FEEL when I’m working on someone.  I never realized how absolutely obvious it can be when someone is tight and how simple it is to feel and see tangles, tightness, and such.  I’m “listening with my hands,” and I’m wowed at what I can hear and learn.

Second, I found the perfect pillows when my friends and I were camping.  They used these silly “as seen on TV” pillows in the car, and I thought they’d be perfect for my practice.  I got three of them at the duty-free shop at the USA Veteran’s Administration, but they are available widely, including online.  I have found them to be the perfect amazing pillows for this work.  Great for bending in many ways to support folks in this work.  Here they are…  

C

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July 1, 2013 - 5:04 pm
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You have a perfect setup – a good practice space, a conducive environment where people really need this type of work, lots of eager takers, plenty of time to practice and great props. It can’t get much better than that.

It can and will happen sometimes that you just cannot connect with a client for whatever reason. That’s just part of the process. I know it can feel really frustrating to you as a practitioner. But sometimes, like in your case, the client likes it anyway even if the session felt really awkward to you.

You won’t get many such cases, but they can be our best training for staying detached from our results and from keeping our egos in check. If you get too attached to your results, it can really collapse your energy when a session does not conform to your expectation.

Sometimes such cases can also lead us to new ways of working. Here is are some stories from my own experience which fit in perfectly here:

https://thaihealingmassage.com/what-do-our-massage-clients-really-want/

Especially the story about the princess in the destination spa is relevant.

I am really glad to hear that you are feeling and listening with your hands. That’s a concept which I am always stressing. I’d much rather have my students learn how to locate a problem by feeling it rather than memorizing the names of muscles and bones to identify the right terminology for a particular problem. You can be an expert in anatomy, but if you cannot listen with your hands, you will still not be an excellent therapist.

With all your practice time and all those different bodies, you must be getting really good at this. Incidentally, that’s how I had started out originally. I just worked for free on lots and lots of people for quite a few months until I had plenty of confidence and experience with different body types and different situations.

At some point I had people telling me that I should finally charge money since I was getting really good at Thai Massage. I have never looked back since then and never had a lack of clients. That was about 15 years ago.

 

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