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Crystal Pavis' Complete Thai Massage course notes
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Crystal Pavis
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October 12, 2018 - 12:55 am
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Module 1

I'm very excited to start the complete Thai massage course. I've been looking forward to it! I had taken a brief intro course on Thai for the table and in it the therapist climbed on top of the table to do a stretch. I agree that using a table for Thai massage would be limiting. The table seems too narrow for the therapist to comfortably be on top of along with the client. I prefer to work on the floor mat. My only concern with the floor mat is whether or not the client would be comfortable in the prone position since they would have to turn their head to the side. I've seen people use face cradle cushions on the floor but I wonder if the client would be able to breathe well enough using that. 

I'm looking forward to learning more about the energetic aspects of Thai massage. I really like that it is based on working with energy lines. I'll practice aligning my breath with certain techniques since I think that will really help to improve the flow. I've seen therapists hang something from the ceiling to hold onto, such as fabric or a rope so they can balance better on one foot. I might want to try this. I'll start practicing the yoga tree pose as you suggested to improve my balance. 

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Shama Kern
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October 12, 2018 - 11:45 pm
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Welcome back to another course, Crystal!

I know, some therapists climb all over their clients on the table, including standing on it. I could never see what the advantage of this is supposed to be. It is so much easier on a floor mat, and if you do work on a table, then just do those techniques which don't require acrobatics.

The prone issue with having to turn the head sideways has an easy and elegant solution. There is an entire supplemental video about how to do this in this course. That's not a problem at all! Smile

I also don't see the need to hang on to ropes. You will see, the way how I teach it, there is no need for that, even when standing on one foot.

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Crystal Pavis
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December 22, 2018 - 8:44 am
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Module 2

I recently completed a local 32 hour Thai Massage Level 1 course. I’m glad that I am also taking this online course because I’m able to watch and re-watch the videos to help solidify the material I learned. Also, your course helped me prepare for the in-person class since I had already been practicing Thai Massage for a couple of months.

While practicing the Chi Machine, my partner initially felt as though his legs were stiff. Then when his hips started to move, his legs started to loosen up. Then after a while he felt his back moving. He felt that the technique wasn't effective until the movement reached his hips and it was most effective when his head started to move. While practicing this technique, it took a minute or two before the movement reached my partners head. I think it takes a bit of effort but the more I practice it should get easier.

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Crystal Pavis
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December 24, 2018 - 2:07 am
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Module 3

I’m not sure that I can comfortably press the three points on the feet with my thumbs as the technique is demonstrated in the video. I can do palm presses on the feet but I know this won’t have the same effect. I am trying to avoid applying direct pressure with my thumbs if possible. I noticed that if I apply pressure with my index finger and use my thumb to support it, as you have taught in the foot massage course, I can apply pressure to points without causing pain in my thumbs.

In a different Thai massage class, I had learned to point the feet in and put one foot on top of the other and then press down on them a couple times. Then to put the other foot on top and press. As a receiver I felt this technique could be a little uncomfortable. As a giver I find it a bit awkward trying to get the feet in the proper position. I like the technique you teach in this module better. To keep the feet apart and bend them in and lean forward. This way the feet are not being pressed against one another.  

In the push-pull-rotate technique, when you lean forward are you pushing the foot forward with your thumb or the heel of your hand? Also, I'm not sure if you change your hand position at all while pushing forward compared to leaning back.

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Shama Kern
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December 25, 2018 - 12:21 am
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Regarding the foot techniques - don't do the thumb techniques if they hurt your thumbs. Regard the techniques as something to choose from, not mandatory sequences. There are so many different ways for working on the feet, and you don't have to do them all. You just need a few good techniques, and if necessary, modify them by using more support, or by using your knuckles, or whatever works for you.

For the push-pull-rotate technique I use mostly the heel of the hand to push, the area just below the thumb. I do change hand position for the pull-back, otherwise you couldn't really pull back effectively. It's not a major positional change, but for the pulling back you have to get a good grip on the foot.

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January 28, 2019 - 3:11 am
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Module 4

For the thumb circling techniques, including circling the inside of the heels and the lines on the top of the feet, I found it more comfortable to use my fingertips. My partners’ feedback indicated that I should be careful not to squeeze his feet when I stretch them.

I am studying your online course at the same time that I am practicing the techniques and the routine that I have learned from an in-person course locally. I’m grateful for your reassuring attitude about how in the beginning it feels the hardest and that the longer you practice it, the easier it gets. I have had a little trouble remembering the exact sequence that I learned in the local class and I agree with you that it’s not important to know an exact sequence. I like the idea of conceptual learning that you discussed and I’m going to try that approach.   

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Shama Kern
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January 28, 2019 - 9:53 am
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If the fingertips work better for you, by all means do that.

And yes, the exact sequence is not that important as long as it feels good to the client. They don't know what the sequence is 'supposed to be' anyway.

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Crystal Pavis
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February 26, 2019 - 9:08 am
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Module 5

I have practiced this module several times and I’m getting more comfortable with it. I like that you said we don’t have to stick to a strict sequence in a session. I agree that it’s better to be flexible and cater the session to the clients’ needs. Previously, when I first started practicing Thai massage, the butterfly technique was bothering a prior wrist injury I have from years ago. At first, I didn’t think I was going to be able to do the butterfly technique, but I’m feeling more comfortable with it now. It still bothers my wrist a little, but much less than it did when I first started practicing it months ago. In fact, my wrist pain is reduced in my daily activities as well now.

I felt like I may have been doing this technique a little too fast. Synchronizing the movements with my breath helps me to slow down the pace. I like that you showed a variety of ways to warm up the legs. The summary at the end was helpful to show how it all flows together.

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Shama Kern
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February 26, 2019 - 2:55 pm
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There will be several more summaries in this course to show you how it all fits together in a nice flow. Smile

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Crystal Pavis
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March 1, 2019 - 10:17 am
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Module 6

I like the rocking movement you demonstrated to loosen up the hip. I would like to learn more rocking techniques and possibly take your Thai Rocking Massage Course. The feedback that I received from my partner was that during the rocking technique he noticed tightness above his knee that he wasn’t aware of.

I also like these techniques using the forearms since it will give my hands and wrists a break. It took me a few tries to get the calf technique right. At first I felt just the bone but when I remembered to adjust the angle of the foot to 45 degrees, I was able to access the calf muscle. My partner appreciated becoming more aware of his body and of which areas are tight. He also mentioned the larger muscles felt more stiff due to his job and that it didn’t feel like I was using my forearm while working his quads. Your summary about what lines we are working will be helpful to remember the different techniques, if I remember the lines I'll be working.  

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Shama Kern
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March 2, 2019 - 1:49 pm
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Yes, rocking techniques are amazing - they are so versatile and effective, and they add a whole new level to standard Thai Massage.

There are many ways to replace your hands. Many are shown in this course, and if you want to even get more into hands-free techniques, we have a whole course about that (which you are probably aware of), called Hands Free Massage.

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March 8, 2019 - 9:03 pm
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Module 7

I’m glad you included a hip evaluation via the feet. This will be helpful for me to identify restrictions in the hips, so I can get an idea of which areas to work and which stretches to avoid. I like the right angle foot - hip stretch and the right angle foot - hip walking stretch since I find them very comfortable to do. You teach them slightly different than what I previously learned because you are holding under her knee and leaning back slightly while you press on her thigh with your foot. I’m looking forward to learning more techniques where I can use my feet.  

I’m glad you mentioned that the hip lift cross pull stretch shouldn’t be done by leaning straight back. I had learned this technique before but didn’t realize it was meant to be done by leaning back and to the side. For the circular hip lift cross pull stretch it took a little practice to rock the hip at the speed you are demonstrating due to some tightness in my partners’ hips.  My partner gave feedback that he liked these new techniques and he felt that I used good variations of pressure.

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March 10, 2019 - 2:29 am
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Sometimes just small adjustments or variations can make quite a big difference in how a technique feels. I try to present many such options throughout this course. Smile

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March 17, 2019 - 11:33 pm
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Module 8

I found it reassuring that you said the training will get easier after the leg stretches. I find the modular aspect of your training very useful. It allows me to learn it a chunk at a time which is much more manageable. I’m glad there is such a variety of techniques in Thai massage that we have the option to customize our sessions to the clients needs to work only a specific area of the body for a whole session if that would be beneficial for them.

I’m familiar with the technique you are using to work the calf muscles since I had learned a similar technique to work the sen lines on the quadriceps. I’m glad to learn this technique is also useful to help relax the calf muscles. I had also previously learned the compressing-rotating gastrocnemius muscle between your palms and I was instructed to add a quick pushing of the muscle away from the bone after the rotations. The technique you demonstrated is a more relaxing alternative. The technique alternating fingertip pulling of the gastrocnemius muscle is more superficial and fast paced than I previously learned. It would be beneficial for clients that have tight calf muscles that may not be able to tolerate deeper pressure yet.

For the “Hip pie” 180 degree stretch, when I previously learned this, I wasn’t aware that we should pull on the receivers knee to secure their leg. When I previously practiced this technique I noticed at times my partners’ leg slipping out because I was only supporting their knee.

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March 18, 2019 - 1:26 am
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Yes, it's all in those little details. It seems that you already have a good basis for Thai Massage, and I am also quite sure that you will be able to add a lot to your skills with this course. I keep improving the course and adding to it. Smile

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March 25, 2019 - 6:55 am
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Module 9

I like the elephant walking on the thigh adductors technique. I’m glad you continue to remind me in your videos to match the movement to my breath. My partner had commented that he enjoyed the adductor techniques. I like the rocking version of the 135 degree hip pie stretch. It seems like an effective way to loosen up the adductor muscles. I appreciate that you are demonstrating gentle versions as well as power versions of techniques so we can use the appropriate version depending on our clients flexibility. I had already learned the hamstring stretch but I noticed you cover it in greater detail showing better body placement for improved ergonomics as well as how to increase the power for a greater stretch. I’ll be using the one to ten scale, as you explained it, during my sessions to get an idea of how much pressure I can use.  

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March 25, 2019 - 3:56 pm
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I am glad to hear that you are able to refine what you know with more options and better body control. Smile

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Crystal Pavis
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March 27, 2019 - 10:01 pm
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Module 10

I’m glad you are discussing the hara because one thing I really like about Thai massage is that it focuses on improving energy flow throughout the body. I had heard that we shouldn’t step over our client during a Thai massage, that it is considered rude to do so in Thailand. I was told to walk around the clients’ feet to get to the other side of them. Have you also heard of this? I like the hip pie 270 degree stretch because it is so effortless to do, just lean forward. I agree that we should ask our partner for feedback (one to ten) on this stretch because it can be strong. I enjoy this version of a spinal twist since it is also effortless to do using our lower body to lean forward. The blood stop technique concerns me a bit because a client could have a medical condition that they don’t disclose or that they don’t even know they have, such as blood clots. I’m looking forward to the next module to see all the leg stretches together and how they flow.

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Shama Kern
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March 28, 2019 - 2:29 am
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Actually the don't-step-over-the-body taboo in Thailand applies to everything except Thai Massage. There are several such taboos in Thai culture which are totally suspended in Thai Massage sessions. So there is nothing wrong with crossing over the body in Thai Massage.

The only time when you cannot do this is if you work on a member of the royal family in Thailand. Then you really cannot cross over the body. They have their own style of Thai Massage reserved for them which is very restrictive and not very therapist-friendly either. But since chances are good that you won't work on the royal family, you can forget about this taboo and cross over the body - no problem. Laugh

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Crystal Pavis
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April 9, 2019 - 10:05 pm
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Module 11

I like that you used the analogy of a dance. I had taken dance lessons for years and the flow of Thai massage does remind me of a dance. I agree we need to transition from one technique into another gracefully. This is something that takes a bit of practice and also requires balance. You’ve also mentioned to always move slow. While I have been practicing I have been occasionally checking in on my pace to make sure I move slowly.

I’m reviewing the Thai Massage Sen lines.pdf document included with module 9. I’m glad you developed Thai massage methods that focus first on preserving the therapists health. I recently tried to do some thumb pressing on the feet again while practicing and shortly after I had thumb pain. I have to keep the thumb pressing to a bare minimum. I enjoy practicing the circling and rocking techniques.

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