Good evening Shama and All,
Finally, after dealing with what seemed like a never ending stream of lose ends, I managed to purchase this course - something I had been wishing to do for ages.
I already practice the occasional rocking motion with exceptionally stiff clients and those who are unable to let go and it's been very successful so far so I am looking forward to learning more.
Currently recruiting bodies for practicing, I'll keep you posted with developments.
All the best,
Today I had the opportunity to practice the Chi Machine technique on one of my sacrificial bodies(*) for this course. Surprisingly I managed to get a good rhythm almost straight away and movement throughout the whole body (including the nose) most of the time.
After a couple of minutes I slowly brought the movement to a halt and after allowing her to rest for a minute or two she burst into tears and carried on crying for the rest of the Thai Massage session.
Have you ever had tears after the Chi Machine?
Prior to that I did foot massage, palming and thumbing of the leg lines, single leg stretches and double leg stretches.
(*) Once again I have been extremely privileged having managed to recruit a Yoga & Thai Massage Therapist, a Yoga & Pilates instructor and a Neurodevelopmentalist so far. Still hoping to recruit an athlete and then of course I'll blackmail my other half who is probably the only person on the planet that doesn't really enjoy Thai Massage.
I have never had someone cry when I did the Chi Machine, but I had a similar experience when I worked on a woman's groin. Somehow there was a massive emotional release and she cried and cried for the next hour. You never know what can happen in a session...
I am glad to hear that you "got" the Chi Machine right away, and that you have great recruits for your sessions.
Also please take a minute and familiarize yourself with our Certification Check List just to get the posting well organized (point #3)
Certification Check List
As I was treating a client on Monday I had the opportunity to think about the techniques described in this introductory video and had a go at incorporating some during my regular treatment. Client was naturally supple, however she was holding some tension in her hips, middle back, shoulders and neck area.
The most effective technique was massaging the shoulders in side position using the fingertips and the rotational movement shown in this video. The result was the whole body rocking from head to toes and a client thoroughly enjoying the rocking movement and feeling the tension in the upper back/shoulder blades area dissipate slowly.
Another technique I used successfully was rolling the thigh muscles between my hands during the hamstring stretches with client supine and one leg straight, foot up towards the ceiling. Although supple she was resisting the stretch so I "rolled" her quads like you would do when trying to lit a fire with a couple of sticks and she soon let go of the resistance allowing her to experience a deeper stretch. I guess it's important to be fully present when doing this to be able to discern whether the resistance is purely physical or mental.
At the weekend I had another go at practicing the techniques in Module 2 on my other half.
Surprisingly, despite the fact that he is probably 3 times the size of the client I first practiced the chi machine on, I found it much easier to get into a good rhythm straight away with my movements being a lot more subtle than the first time round. However, even though I was holding his feet on my thighs, I got tired fairly quickly, probably within a minute or so. We still managed to get some slight tingling sensation but I need to practice again on someone who is more attuned to chi who can give me more thorough feedback.
The traction rocking technique was a bit trickier. I struggled to make it happen while holding the feet as shown in the video but I was able to get a good rocking rhythm when holding the foot with my hands the other way round, i.e. cupping the heel with my outside hand and holding the toes with my inside hand. This also gave me a firmer grip on the foot whereas when I was cupping the heel with my inside hand I could feel the joint moving around. Perhaps this is due to the fact that my hands are smaller than his feet and I can only "grip" on the bottom part of the heel as opposed to being able to hold the whole of the back of the foot and part of the Achille's tendon in my hand?
You are correct when you are saying that you need to be 'present' during the rocking sessions. Rocking is not just a mechanical thing. It does require a good amount of feeling and sensitivity to feel good.
Getting a bit tired after a minute of Chi Machine on a person with heavy legs, especially when you are considerably smaller, is normal. Ideally you would only do the Chi Machine on clients who are not much heavier than you are. Remember, the techniques are not fixed sequences, they are options to choose from.
If you found a way to get a better hold on the foot, that's perfectly fine. It always depends on the size of your hands and the size of your partner's anatomy. No hard and fast rules here.
I really enjoyed learning and practicing this technique and (miracle) finally my other half enjoyed the massage too.
His hips are naturally supple but a little bit less so when folding the feet inwards so I focused my practice on this technique. I was able to get into a good rhythm straight away although I noticed that at times I wasn't too smooth as I was moving the hands up and down the thighs. Eventually I managed to be more subtle and was then able to practice using more and less weight.
The lower legs took a bit to get right as his shin bones stick out quite a bit and so it was a bit difficult to find the correct place along the leg where to apply the rocking motion. Still, eventually I got there and it worked rather well.
I feel this technique will be invaluable with clients who are super sensitive to direct pressure through palming and thumbing of the leg lines as well as in helping those who find it difficult to let go and relax during the treatment.
The squeezing + rocking motion was fairly easy to get into and resulted in a most interesting reaction that's not totally unusual also with some clients: my other half was finding this very ticklish and because of the giggles it took probably three times longer than it should have done. I think this is another excellent technique especially to help people relax their legs in preparation for the hip stretches which cause a bit of anxiety in some clients.
The foot rotation technique I have been using already as it's part of the sequence that I learned at college but I love the way you sit down in front of the client. We were taught to kneel facing the client directly towards their centre line but I sometimes find this position uncomfortable as my ankles aren't supple but was also never shown an alternative way of positioning myself in relation to the client. So awesome discovery that made my technique a little bit more effective just because I was sitting comfortably and therefore better able to use my body weight.
The hip rotation technique with the leg bent I also had used before to persuade clients to relax before carrying out a similar stretch. The way I was taught this stretch was to push the foot towards the buttock as far as it goes and then pull the bent leg straight but slightly towards the inside. I think your technique is a great variation of this stretch which, again, will prove very useful with those clients with super stiff hips and heavier legs. With my other half in particular it was great because the rotating motion provided almost a distraction for him and took away any opportunity to resist the stretch which for some clients is an automatic reaction.
The last technique shown in this module will require a bit more practice especially in being able to find the correct spot for my hands at the top of the legs near the groin without being intrusive. It will also require a bit more experimentation with regards to being able to apply the rocking motion along the thigh with clients that cannot let their leg to all the way to the floor. So far with my other half it was just a matter of resting the thigh on a cushion (but then again his hips are supple in that direction) but I had clients who were so stiff that to do this stretch (static version) I had to place my leg under theirs and then apply direct pressure that way allowing their leg to slide over mine when I was able to open the hip joint. As a final note on this, when I managed to get into a good rocking rhythm it seemed to help my other half get into a very relaxed state.
Great detailed progress report - makes me feel like I am sitting next to you watching you work! Rocking can accomplish results that regular Thai Massage cannot, and it allows you to work on people who would otherwise be hesitant to receive Thai Massage. It opens up an entire new level of working. Since very few therapists are doing it, it will be a unique service which you are offering.
Thank you Shama. I am really looking forward to putting all this together as a sequence in its own right in conjunction with whichever other technique I feel is appropriate for each client.
This I had to watch a few times as I struggled a bit to get to grips with the first technique shown in the video. If there was such a thing as a list of how not to do it I would have ticked all the boxes. I suppose it's a matter of co-ordination and perhaps of practicing on somebody lighter at the earliest opportunity.
The second stretch was easier, I tend to do a similar one but with the client's foot resting on my hip bone. I also tend to add some kind of rotation to the thigh when I do that if I feel a lot of resistance coming from the client. That way I can confuse them and then lean into the stretch a bit more (when I am sure the body is up for it). BOOM!
The third technique was also a bit tricky for me, mostly because my other half's leg is so much longer than mine and fairly heavy so it was a bit of a struggle to hold it in place in the way that you have shown. Definitely a technique to practice a lot before unleashing it on clients as I felt a bit clumsy getting into the correct position and easing myself into the rocking motion using my body weight as opposed to strength.
I wish I remembered about the fourth technique earlier today when I was with a client who is a bit stiff in the hip joints when "pushing" his feet inwards towards the opposite leg. I always use the rocking techniques shown in Module 2 on him but I really wish I remembered this whole little sequence while I was in the exact same position during the single leg stretches as it would have helped him a lot especially as he was resisting instead of just being. I'll have to make a note for next time!
The following technique was fairly straight forward for me to learn and fairly easy to create the gentle rocking motion in his body. I must admit, since I started watching the videos for this course I have been paying attention to how I can create a rocking effect whenever I use similar techniques on various parts of the body. They are just magic.
The spinal twist rocking technique is just beautiful... when you do it. When I attempt it I am going back to the first one when I am totally clumsy. I suppose it's going to take a bit more practice to get the rhythm and co-ordination just right. I was just wondering though... the girl in the video seems naturally flexible and can easily twist her body and keep her shoulders on the floor. However, a lot of my clients are quite stiff when it comes to body twists and I would imagine they wouldn't be able to keep both shoulders on the floor as pressure is gently applied to the knee. Does it matter? While practicing on my partner, due to the weight difference and body shape I was focused on developing the technique but it came to mind earlier today, again, as I was doing a body twist on my client slightly different from the one you showed.
The hip rocking was a big hit with my partner who enjoyed the rhythmical motion. I found this fairly easy to get into and to get the whole body to move as I was rocking the hips. Thankfully I was able to practice both variations on him and we both agreed that the first version, applying direct pressure to the groin area, was the most effective.
As I moved my hands up and down the sides of my partner's body we both discovered new ticklish spots, the grand prize going to points along the iliotibial band. Although very pleasant for both it became obvious that ticklish spots could be an issue and so I must remember to ask clients if this could be a problem BEFORE I actually get into it to avoid awkward moments.
I know I said this before but it's worth repeating: I am loving learning the rocking techniques but what's proving invaluable to me is learning how to position myself around the client in slightly different and more comfortable ways than I was taught when I did my course here in the UK. That's just brilliant and is making my practice so much better!
The second technique in this video has special meaning for me at this particular moment. I recently came across an article that explained the relationship between the Thoracolumbar Fascia and various areas of pain that can develop in the body. This technique allows me to get my hands right into TLF and stretch it to hopefully release any tension and/or reduce friction between the layers of fascia. Not very easy for me to perform on a client I imagine, as I can take liberties and get it wrong with my other half but I can see how it could easily become inappropriate with male clients. Also a bit difficult to get my positioning right so that I could use my body weight to carry out the stretch as opposed to relying on arms strength. Great technique for lower back tension!
The last technique was a bit easier to practice. Until I attempted switching sides. That was a bit trickier but such a beautiful touch and not impossible with a bit of repetition. Also, flowing through various techniques as part of a "sequence" is going to take a lot of practice as it's quite difficult for me at the moment to keep a steady rhythm going for an extended period of time. I think that when I will come to stringing together a Rocking Thai Massage sequence to offer clients I will have to introduce a few of the traditional stretches or techniques just so I can have a break!
Regarding module 5: Rocking is really not about following precise techniques, but about creating a flow which is constantly being adapted to your client's size and ability to move. My model represents a fairly typical Thai woman - small, light and flexible. It's hard to find people who do not look like that!
I know in the western world on average people are larger and stiffer than Asians. So if you notice that someone's shoulders are lifting off in the spinal twist, just rock a little less so that the shoulders don't move so much. If they lift a little, that's ok, if they lift a lot, that's a sign that you are taking them into the stretch too far.
On the other hand, if someone has a large and heavy torso, their own weight will keep the shoulders on the ground, more so than in the case of a very light person. In such a case it is easy to overstretch someone since there is no visible clue like shoulders lifting off.
Regarding module 6: The rocking moves are not meant to be an entire sequence on their own for an entire session. If you do that, some people can get nauseated and it's just too much. So the ideal thing is to build the rocking into your sessions but mix them up with non rocking techniques.
Another way of doing that is to mix up the big rocks with the little ones, like palm circling or finger wiggling. Don't keep the big rocks up for an extended period of time. First they will feel great, and then after a while they can become overwhelming to clients.
I never do 100% rocking sessions, I always mix it up, and that always works beautifully
Great advice, thank you. As I am learning and practicing these new techniques I can't help but think how I can "package them" to offer something unique that nobody else does in this part of the UK.
I seem to have resolved my previous issue of lots of soliciting phone calls (didn't realize that adverts I placed in a free online directory (for backlinks and traffic generating purposes) kept on coming up in searches despite having expired some 2 years or so ago. So I am now thinking how I can go out and aggressively promote my practice and package my expertise.
Digression over, back to reporting.
I can tell you what has been the main reason for my success with Thai Massage. It was that I specialized in doing therapeutic work. People could always come to me and tell me that they had a very specific problem, let's say in a knee, or a shoulder, or the sacrum, or sciatica, or the neck. I could always work this particular issue and help them.
There will always be plenty of therapists who can do a general Thai Massage sequence, one-size-fits-all style. Your biggest advantage will be that you do not market the rocking as rocking. That would be promoting a feature.
But people don't care about features and styles and techniques. They want results, no matter how it works. So first you promote an outcome, and only secondarily do you promote the mechanism which you use.
The outcome is that people will solve their problems with pain, stiffness, diseases etc. That's what your reputation should be built on, not providing another new style or technique which people don't know.
I was always the guy whom people came to see if they had a real problem, and nobody else could help them effectively. Sure, I know a boat load of techniques, but techniques in themselves don't sell. Results and outcomes sell.
It's all about specialization. Just like a heart surgeon makes more money than a general practitioner because he or she provides a highly specialized service which some people desperately need. You can do the same with massage therapy.
That's how I came up with all my specialized therapeutic courses. They are all based on actually working with people who have serious problems.
If you implement and package your skills in this way, you will never have a problem with competition. You just have to be better than the average practitioner and more specialized. Then you will have clients lining up for your work. I know that because that's what happened to me.
I loved this whole module! Even if the odds weren't in my favour due to the weight and size difference between my partner and myself. I did struggle a bit and tried to at least get a feel for the techniques.
The first two techniques weren't too bad, I managed to get the positioning almost right with some help from my partner. I am lucky to be naturally very strong and so having two heavy legs and bottom resting on my thighs isn't too much of an issue. I am not sure how effective I was when leaning my weight on my forearms up and down the quads, still managed to get a small rocking movement and feedback from my partner was positive.
The variation of the kidney stretch, as you said, didn't work very well with my partner but I liked the idea of rocking from side to side once up in the air. The most difficult part for me was being able to get in a good position to grab the thighs for the lift. I must find a way around this though because although not effective on this occasion it seemed much easier on my back than the way I was taught to do the kidney stretch with the client's feet on my knees and me squatting as I lift.
For the next technique I was in the nightmare scenario you described so I just focused on trying to get a feel for positioning my partner's legs over my thigh in the best spot so that I wasn't putting pressure on the calf muscles and was able to apply enough leverage on his feet to start lifting. Didn't get much height even when going on my toes but it was enough to get an idea of how this technique might work with a smaller client.
The remaining techniques were my favourite, great for introducing clients to abdomen massage if they are nervous about it as it's so unusual. Also, when used in conjunction with other hip rocking techniques from previous modules, this seems like a great "warm up" to help clients relax when they show up totally stressed out about aspects of their lives. Being gently persuaded to let go of emotional tension would help them get more benefit from the stretches and other Thai Massage techniques.
Fantastic advice Shama, thank you ever so much!
I thought this module was going to be an absolute breeze to practice, especially after the acrobatic efforts of practicing the previous ones when the weight/height equation between client and practitioner was reversed in relation to the video. BUT... then I got to the really awesome shoulder rocking techniques and as soon as they involved using my body weight to lift my partner's shoulders off the floor my bubble burst.
I just about managed to do the shoulder rotations with one hand under each shoulder but almost ended up sitting on my partner's stomach and lower ribcage as I was shifting my weight from left to right and viceversa. I can see that this is a viable technique with most people and I guess all I need is a bit more practice in getting the positioning just right. Partner enjoyed it a lot, he does suffer from occasional shoulder pain from doing physical work (bench pressing gear boxes under cars) and after practicing this module I never heard him mention the pain once.
I think what did the trick though was the following technique with the fingers interlocked under the shoulder blades. I got big thumbs up for this so I guess it's what my partner needed the most at the time. The only part I had a big problem with was with the rocking/body twist as I couldn't place my right leg on his quads away from the genitals area so I tried resting my leg across his hip bones and, although not as effective as what you have shown, it proved an acceptable workaround. I avoided being intrusive, didn't cause any pain, and managed to limit the amount of lifting of the glutes off the ground to a bare minimum.
Changing sides smoothly was a bit difficult and will take me a lot of stretching to be able to do it seamlessly and gracefully. Despite my little "struggles" once again I was blessed with an opportunity to spend great quality time with my other half, getting great feedback in the process.
On a "funny" note... one of my cats was absolutely fascinated by this module. He is not always very friendly with my partner but all the time we were practicing rocking techniques he was curled up on his chest, abdomen, arms, legs, near his head and so on AND has been very affectionate since. I have tried to practice some rocking techniques on them and while the girl enjoys the attention the boy needs careful handling as can turn vicious in a blink. Dogs are more receptive to Thai massage techniques, especially the older ones love having their backs massaged/palmed/thumbed. This is something I would love to try on my horse too later in the year when it's warmer and she doesn't need rugs anymore.
Thanks again for the great advice on packaging my expertise. Really appreciated.
I remember reading several forum posts about animals being really attracted to the Thai Massage sessions. I have my own experience with this which you might want to read here:
The arms rocking techniques are really great and fairly easy to get into for me although perhaps not so easy to gauge how much energy is needed to create a smooth rocking motion. Sometimes I went into the rocking or swinging a bit too positively which placed the technique just past the pleasant point.
Hands and arms are so often overlooked when it comes to holistic treatments and yet, in my limited experience, they are one of the places where people inadvertently hold an awful lot of tension. Especially those that do a lot of physical work but also those that do a lot of typing. The feedback I received from my partner was positive, he enjoyed receiving the techniques and found that he gained a tiny bit more free movement in his shoulders as a result.
I really appreciated the comments about good communication with the client. It's always great to hear different ways of asking similar questions that might make it easier for a client to understand our requests. Thank you.
Lovely flow during the demonstration at the end.