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Colleen's Thai Massage Course Notes
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Colleen Boveri
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August 18, 2013 - 6:12 am
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Module one~ I used my husband as my guinea pig for practicing proper body mechanics, breathing synchronicity, using my own body weight instead of pushing and also keeping myself comfortable in the process. What I found to be the most difficult was two old injuries that had only bothered me  were really acting up. Eight years ago I had a grade 2 sprain in my left ankle which did not heal so well due to the fact I was so active in teaching yoga and  3 years ago I had an accident that tore my wrist.  I sought the best treatment but they did not heal completely.  These injuries only acted up if I was extremely physical, so they were manageable until thai yoga.  What I learned in this module was that if I was going to make Thai Yoga Massage a career I needed to listen to my bodies inner intelligence and learn ways to use my body in a way that would cause no pain or discomfort to me.

Module 2~ Chi Machine hurts my ankle when the clients legs are big and heavy, but I can get away with doing it on a smaller/lighter frame individual.  I was able to get my clients head, shoulder girdle and pelvic girdle to move, however they did not care for the overall movement so much. I do this movement when I teach yoga, although I call the movement heal rocking and my students do this rocking themselves and love it :)  

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Colleen Boveri
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August 18, 2013 - 6:33 am
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Module~3  I worked with my spouse on this module as well. He really did not care much for the foot massage compared to some other techniques I have used in the past. However, It could be that I need to become more fluid with the movements. He like the opening move were the foot was supine. Second move, did not care for circular motion prefers side-to-side instead.  He enjoyed the internal rotation. I liked doing the 4th move, plantar flexing, the way you showed it, where the knees were placed and how you used your body weight (same with dorsi flexing the foot).

Module~ 4

8 ways to work the feet. My hubby liked the pressing and rolling, found the inner and outter ankle rub reaxing- I enjoyed it as well. He really liked it all, the indention rub and the ankle rotations.

I was able to get comfortable and really connect with client.

 

 

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Colleen Boveri
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August 18, 2013 - 6:38 am
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Module~5 Leg warm ups.

Client really enjoyed femur press. I was uncomfortable at first, but found a way to do the move that did not hurt my ankle. We had to use a pillow when we put the legs at 90 degrees. Overall client loved all of this!

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Shama
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August 18, 2013 - 11:14 pm
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You can do the Chi Machine also when you are sitting cross-legged. This will take the strain off your ankles.

I your clients or partners (several of them apparently) did not care so much about the Chi Machine, then I can guarantee you that the way how you are doing it needs some improvement. After doing the Chi Machine for many years, I have found that almost all clients really like it. You can apply a simple test. If you do it for a couple of minutes, and then you stop, your clients should experience a wonderful tingling feeling throughout the entire body. If this is not happening, then the technique is not quite right yet.

Also experiment with doing it in various degrees of intensity, from strong to very light and subtle. If you are doing it right, even if the movement is very small, you will still get the entire body to move. There should be no effort on your arms and hands at all. The feeling for you should be like there is a liquid sloshing around within your hip area from side to side. 

If you do the movement with too much muscle power, or too much effort, or without a feeling of flow, then it won't feel good. Try to not do it how you have been doing it in your yoga, but strictly how I demonstrate it in the video and see if you can get it to feel better for your clients.

Sometimes we develop habits which we don't want to change, but sometimes when we are able to let go of them and try things in a new and slightly different way, we get better results. It's worth a try.

You are correct, you should always listen to your body's inner intelligence and adjust your ergonomics so that it feels right to you.

Regarding foot massage in module 3: You cannot expect that the techniques will feel totally right in the beginning. It is ALL about being fluid. This is something which develops over time with practice and this takes weeks and months. If your partner does not care about a particular technique, just take it as a valuable feedback that you still need to improve it. Don't assume that it is the technique, assume that it is you who needs to work on it some more.

In my experience almost all techniques can be done in such a way that every client likes it. This might require modifications in the execution and intensity and the quality of your touch. Just like yoga, Thai Massage is a real art and takes years to get really good at. The fact is that after more than 14 years of practicing and teaching it, I am still learning and improving myself. So it is not surprising that you do a technique for the first time, and it does not feel right to your partner. This is normal and to be expected. And it will change and improve with practice and experience.

Regarding the "femur press", just keep in mind that although we might refer to a certain move as "pressing", in actuality we do not press at all but only lean in with our body weight. This makes all the difference in the world.

It's great to hear that you felt good and connected with the module 4 techniques.

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Colleen Boveri
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August 20, 2013 - 6:36 am
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Thanks Shama for your valuable feedback.

 

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Colleen Boveri
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August 23, 2013 - 3:44 am
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Module~6

Push-pull is an awesome relaxer. You really have to get in the zone and find a steady rhythmic glide.

2nd move, my husband wanted a bit more pressure and then he really liked it. He was concerned about a female being close to a mans genital area like that?????

#3 leaning in is very comfortable for me, i like the ergonomics of the move. My husband loved the stretch

#4 Like the work on the top of the thigh.

#5 Prefers side lying twist with bolster to address the I T Band.

#6 Client really liked this, at times hard for me to stay on correct line due to tight calf muscles.

We both liked all the calf work, but at times I had to lighten up.

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Shama
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August 23, 2013 - 9:02 pm
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Thai Massage is a modality where there is a lot of physical contact between therapist and client. As long as you don't touch the genitals I would not worry about it. The reason is that if you are too worried about it, you will transmit nervous or fear energy, and the client will feel that at some level.

I have talked to quite a few female therapists here in Thailand about this male genital issue. They are pretty much all in agreement that certain movements in Thai massage can put pressure on a man's genital or stretch his pants over it, and that sometimes there will be movement in the genital. This is quite normal and nothing to be alarmed about since after all it is the biological function of this body part to fill with blood and expand. 

As long as there is no overt sexual expression, all the massage therapists simply disregard this. This will always be an issue for many men in any type of massage, and it is just how nature designed the male body. You cannot expect that there will never be any expansion in the male genital during massage, and in most cases there is nothing to worry about. 

If you always stay far away from the genitals, you will get paranoid, miss a section of the body, and reduce potential therapeutic applications. Bottom line is: Use common sense, don't touch the genitals and don't turn it into an issue.

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Colleen Boveri
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August 25, 2013 - 4:37 am
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Module~7

These movements were really great. I have practiced these quite a bit over the last year and I really enjoy them.  My husbands legs are very heavy to lift, he was an athlete and has very strong large bones, so holding his ankle in the hamstring walk was difficult, but I found a way to make it comfortable. I love that you took the time to talk about the angle of the feet and the asymmetry of the hips.  One thing I did not know is that when you perform the last move you are moving the leg more inward and back. I was taught to lean straight back- are there 2 different variations?  I felt very awkward performing the circular movement.

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August 25, 2013 - 11:46 pm
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Leaning straight back doesn't really accomplish much. The way how I teach this technique allows the hip to come up and the leg to rotate in the hip joint which is much more effective.

It's not that there are two versions - what I teach is not a copy of standard Thai Massage as it is taught in most schools. I have added a lot of techniques and modifications which are based on my experience and my own style.

If you feel awkward performing the circular movement, you haven't quite got it right yet. This movement is a smooth and flowing rapid circling of the leg. If it is done right, it feels great for you to do and great for the client to receive.

You will see throughout this course that I use quite a few "rocking" or motion based techniques which are not used in traditional Thai Massage here in Thailand. I even produced an entire course called Thai Rocking Massage. The feedback from my students is that they really like it and their clients as well.

If you are used to the more linear way of working in traditional Thai Massage, it will take a little adjustment to become more fluid with the techniques. I suggest you watch this part of the video again and practice it a few more times until you feel that the movement starts flowing effortlessly. 

You will get there, hardly anyone gets it right the first time around. It will all get better with regular practice. Smile

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Colleen Boveri
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August 26, 2013 - 6:42 am
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LaughThanks Shama!

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Colleen Boveri
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August 26, 2013 - 6:52 am
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Module~8

The calf stretch was great- he has tight calves and really enjoyed this. All of the calf variations are wonderful and the knee circles too. You are very good at explaining techniques. The last move, thigh to chest, and all of the modifications are great, however, I still have a difficult time getting my foot/ankle to support clients bent leg. It felt awkward and is mildly uncomfortable for them unless I use a soft baby pillow to buffer the bone-to-bone connection. Maybe it is because I have short legs and can't at the right angle???

Namaste~ Colleen

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Shama
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August 27, 2013 - 10:48 pm
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 "I still have a difficult time getting my foot/ankle to support clients bent leg." - What technique exactly are you referring to in video 8? Can you tell me how many minutes into the video the technique is and then I will try to give you a solution.

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September 9, 2013 - 6:58 am
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Module~9

I like what you said about some clients not being able to let go- so very true! A wiggle or rocking motion really does do the trick most times.  In #2, I have noticed on certain individuals that it seems like the femur can hit the pelvis because they are so bunched up in that area, should I go more to the side?

My husband loved all the stretches, we had just walked 5 miles-especially loved the first rocking motion. However in the twist, he preferred the plain twist to the one w/the rocking movement. He is a tighter body type and really loves the leg work.

I never take flexible individuals to their max unless they have the strength to match their flexibility. It seems to me that it can overstretch ligaments and isn't very healthy. In almost every Thai yoga video I have ever purchased the teachers are always doing these ridiculous above normal range of motion moves.  Here in the Mid-West most people are just not that flexible and if they are they do not have the structural integrity to back up the over extension. Your thoughts........

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September 9, 2013 - 7:07 am
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Module ~10

Leg stretches- Again, I really appreciate your reminders on the comfort of the therapist, body mechanics, working with the whole body, intention, breath and hara- good stuff!!!!!  Makes all the difference in the world. And, you explanation of the blood stop method was better than anyones I have heard yet.

Twist- I have always been under the impression that a twist should be felt in the thoracic spine area and it seems to compromise the SI joint if it is felt lower. What are your thoughts and how do I adjust so it is felt in the correct area.

Is there a way to stop someone who is really loose from hyper-extending the back of the knee when the calf is being stretched?

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September 9, 2013 - 7:15 am
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Module~11

You are a great teacher Shama :)   what I would of really appreciated in this flow video would be to slow down just a touch and do both sides like we would do on a client. I felt like I was rushing and I was not able to connect with the client.  I realize that it is hard to keep your posture, breath, hara and intention while learning and taking notes, but I felt that if we did the other side together I would have had a better chance to absorb and stay connected. These postures were wonderful and the client loved them!!!!

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Shama
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September 10, 2013 - 1:53 am
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Regarding the hyper extended knee, you need to be careful. When I have a client with hyper extended knees I tend to skip stretches which could aggravate this. I would only do such a stretch if the knee can be supported in some way. There are calf stretches which can be done as long as the knee is supported by a pillow like the one where you place the client's feet against your abdomen and then lean forward. Also you can do a calf stretch in the prone position where the knee is not affected at all.

There are different kinds of spinal twists which are felt in different areas of the spine. If the client is reasonably flexible there should be no impact on the SI joint, at least no negative one. If I have a client who is so stiff that I can't go very far with the spinal twist, I only do gentle rocking instead of a full blown twisting stretch, as shown in the video around minute 7. Taking spinal twists too far can be dangerous, so always check out the client's degree of flexibility with the rocking first. 

A second thing to consider is that especially when working on stiffer clients, you need to prepare the area which you want to stretch with plenty of warming, muscle work and rocking before going into strong stretches. There is also nothing wrong with not doing certain stretches at all if you feel that they might be too much for the client. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to stretching.

A third suggestion is to use the one-to-ten questioning method when doing any kind of stronger stretch on a client whose body you don't know very well yet. I am not sure if I introduced this already in the course. If not, you will hear about it soon.

A little later in the course you will learn more spinal twists so you will have more options to choose from.

Regarding the summary session - when I recorded this I was not thinking that students might want to actually follow along. I thought of it as a visual follow along only, and that's why I went through it rather quickly. However since many students really like the summary sessions, I can produce an update at some point that extends the session in order to enable an actual follow-along session.

 

 

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Colleen Boveri
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September 15, 2013 - 2:03 am
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Great advice!

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September 15, 2013 - 2:32 am
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Module~12

I liked the choices you gave for alternate calf and hip stretches.

I was surprised the client did not receive much out of the elephant walk, I think I need to practice this more. He did enjoy the angled hip stretch and hip circles.

In the next posture it was uncomfortable for me to stand in front of him with my feet that close and to press my calf against his upper leg. I just need to keep practicing and tweaking.

He liked the hip stretch where I wrap his legs around mine. It was a bit tricky for me to get his legs gracefully around mine, he is a bit tight and has big heavy legs- I am small.

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Colleen Boveri
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September 15, 2013 - 3:16 am
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Module~13

Great info on groin pain and using thew 1-10 measurement for discomfort. Using the hip circles and wiggle method are very helpful.

I have seen so many Thai trainings where it seems as if the client is just an object that this rote set of protocols are preformed on.  Knowing that each person is an individual with their own psycho- emotional and physical makeup I knew that i did not want to give just any cookie cutter Thai massage. I am happy that you instruct for the individual on all level - always modifying and giving alternatives. I believe that being able to control your thoughts and breath really affect the massage and I am grateful you continually stress this in your training!

My client really liked the 45 degree angle stretch especially rocking into it.

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Colleen Boveri
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September 15, 2013 - 3:26 am
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Module ~14

Overall I really had trouble with these. I am pretty sure it is beacause I am short and the person i had to straddle was larger and wider. Most of them hurt my lower back and wrist. They were akward for me.  Either I need to practice them more, choose smaller people or find alternatives. In the last few movements where I stand in front of client with my feet in close to them, I found the back of my legs and knees were uncomfortable. I liked the way you demonstrated switching sides, but I do think the ease and comfort ability of this transition depends on the size of both individuals and also the ankle, knee and hip strength and flexibility of practitioner.

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