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Crystal Robbins Complete Thai Massage Course Notes
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Crystal Robbins
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November 20, 2020 - 7:33 pm
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Module 1

Well, Shama Kern, you are exactly right! As a new student I am very excited to start learning the material right away. Thank you for recognizing that we students do need the extra time to absorb, process, and practice before moving on to new material. Personally, I think this is incredibly important, even if I do have to practice patience.

After seeing many of the positions of the practitioner, I am very grateful that I have a strong yoga practice! Still, I will be doing the recommended poses and practices to continue to prepare my body. I like to see how the practitioner doesn't need to use much strength, instead using body weight and other motions to accomplish the techniques. This makes me excited and confident about performing Thai massage because I know that will also remain comfortable and feeling well. 

I am so very grateful that this course is more focused on energy than anatomy. That is exactly what I was looking for! I have prior experience with working with the human energy field, but I am looking forward to learning it with Thai massage. 

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November 21, 2020 - 4:43 pm
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Hi Crystal, welcome to our community and to the Complete Thai Massage certification program. Please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification checklist to make sure that it is all correctly organized:

Certification Checklist

As a yoga practitioner plus being able to relate to the 'energy' concept you already have a good head start with Thai Massage! 

I am looking forward to reading about your journey and assisting you whenever necessary. Smile

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November 22, 2020 - 4:44 pm
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Module 2

After watching the technique for Chi Machine I couldn't wait to try it. It took several people, several attempts, and almost a week to finally figure the technique out and get the desired effect. In the beginning I could only get the legs to swing. I could not get the motion to travel past the hips unless I held the feet in my hands and used my arm strength to swing the legs. When I used just my arms, the recipient reported that they felt the tingly sensation throughout their entire body. But as soon as I took the feet to my thighs and rocked back and forth, I could only affect the legs. I was determined to figure this technique out! And finally I did! With patience and practice, I suddenly found myself rocking side to side and getting the desired effect without using any arm strength. I was doing it exactly as taught. Once I FELT in my own body how to do the technique correctly, I haven't had any trouble doing it again. There is a particular motion, a particular movement of energy, that makes the Chi Machine possible. But it is not easily put into words and described. Once you FEEL this move, you can DO this move!

And people LOVE it! 

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November 22, 2020 - 8:07 pm
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Fantastic! You are so right - it is not possible to put into words exactly how to do this. You just have to FEEL it, and apparently you did! From then on it is easy to do. Without this feeling it is a struggle and doesn't really do much. I am glad to hear that you overcame this hurdle. Smile

BTW, most techniques are much easier to comprehend than this one.

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November 27, 2020 - 4:24 pm
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Module 3

Of course, the first attempts at the foot massage techniques felt awkward. This was probably due to the fact I was still attempting the Chi Machine and finding myself a little frustrated. But by the third practice, the moves were coming naturally and the entire process seemed to flow. My husband was very relaxed, almost asleep. Of course, that is what he has done every time I have practiced on him. Even if the moves feel a little awkward to me as I am trying to feel them and learn them, they feel amazing to him every time. And when I occasionally take something a little too far, such as bending the foot too far out, he is quick to tell me. 

I am also having my husband try a few of these moves on me so that I can have an idea of how it feels. He has an amazing healing touch, and would really do well at Thai massage. Maybe training is in his future as well? Regardless, from what I can tell, it is vital for me to feel some of these things myself. I never teach yoga poses, transitions, or sequences that I haven't done myself and felt in my own body. I can't understand how I can tell people how to move or position their bodies when I haven't put my own body through it. Therefore, I am going to make it a point to get a professional Thai massage very soon. And I think after the beginning of 2021, and right before I complete this course, I will have another one. Perhaps that can give me the beginner's perspective, and then the "practiced" perspective. 

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November 28, 2020 - 8:04 pm
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You are lucky to have such a good practice partner in your husband, and can even experience some of the work from him. If he is really into it, that would of course be fantastic if he would join you in studying it.

I hope you find a good therapist to get a Thai Massage from. Some are good, sensitive and intuitive, and some are purely mechanical. You will also find that quite a few techniques which you will learn in this course are not known by most Thai Massage therapists.

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November 29, 2020 - 7:59 am
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Module 4

Wow! I watched the video twice and was able to give a full 15 minute foot massage that incorporated all of the moves learned so far. It all clicked and seemed to come right together! It is beginning to feel more natural. I do often have to remind myself to use my body weight rather than my strength. But I feel such a big difference that I hope that part comes naturally soon. My hands cramp very easily, which is one reason I never even considered becoming an (American) massage therapist. Now I know that if my hands are cramping, then I'm not doing it the right way. 

I am happy to hear that I will be learning techniques in this course that are unique and unknown by most Thai massage therapists! 

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November 29, 2020 - 8:18 pm
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You are right - if your hands are cramping, it is a sign that you are using too much effort and are not relaxed enough. Just imagine that you are massaging a baby without any force. That will give you a softer touch. 

Aside from that, you seem to be a natural when it comes to Thai Massage! A 15 minute foot massage is a good accomplishment! Smile

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Crystal Robbins
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November 30, 2020 - 3:34 pm
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Module 5

I have had a very different experience with this module than the last one. That foot massage came easily and naturally. However, I have been nursing an injury of some sort for the last week or so that has prevented me from getting on the floor and doing too much of the leg warm up. I have some hip alignment issues, and this particular "misalignment" was affecting my knee so greatly that I could barely sit cross-legged, much less Japanese style. Normally, sitting on my knees and many of the positions I would take as a Thai massage therapist cause me zero pain or discomfort. This has not been the case this time. I was in severe pain in any position that I needed to be in for Thai Massage. How frustrating! No doubt it was the universe intervening to tell me to slow down and take my time, and be more mindful in my movements and my life. 

Anyway, I was finally able to accomplish the leg warm up last night (with only mild discomfort and a few modifications with my own positions) with my loyal practice partner (husband). I did some of the moves really well and naturally, but others were causing him pain, especially my thumb roll up technique on the quadriceps. Sometimes I could do it well, and others it was really causing him pain. Of course, he tried it on me and figured the technique out right away and it felt wonderful. I will definitely need more practice on the legs with these techniques! For now, I'm just grateful I was finally able to get down and really practice. 

Thank you for the advice about imagining I am massaging a baby without force! I believe that will really help me!! That was exactly the touch I needed for this practice! I will try again this evening, and will be incorporating the module 6 moves as well. 

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December 1, 2020 - 2:20 am
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If the thumb roll-up is causing pain, it is the same issue: Your hand is not soft and not relaxed. Focus on the word "softness" in your mind, and think of massaging a baby or a little kitten or puppy dog which you would certainly not hurt. It's not about pressing hard - it's about generating a feeling of well-being. Always try to start the techniques in a very gentle way, and then gradually increase the intensity, but never to the point where it causes pain.

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December 4, 2020 - 1:56 am
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Module 6

Thank you for the advice about focusing on softness. My thumb roll-up is getting much better, although I still struggle with maintaining a consistent technique. My forearm technique was somewhat better on the first try, but it felt as though my elbow was digging into the leg. But I feel more comfortable now moving and shifting my own body to find that perfect spot that allows me to perform the techniques adequately and use my bodyweight. I spent a lot of time trying to work with and locate the energy lines. Will there be any more detail on the Sen lines in this course? 

For some reason, I had a much harder time with this module. I watched it probably 4 times before I was able to get down and try it, and still needed the video on the whole time. It's like it hit me suddenly how many techniques we have learned so far, and how they just keep piling up. Thank you for your reassurance that you are only teaching the techniques, but we don't have to do every single one during a massage. But I want to do all of them well. You have suggested that we take one or a few and practice them until we get really good at them, and then move on and learn them in that way. I will definitely try that!! Because I am already feeling a little overwhelmed! Do you have any further advice? Should I perfect my thumb roll-up before my forearm roll?

Thank you for all of your tips and advice so far. I am really enjoying the program! Thank you for taking the time and energy to make it possible to share this healing modality across the globe!

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December 4, 2020 - 2:06 am
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It is pretty normal to feel a bit overwhelmed in the early stages of the training. There ARE tons of techniques in Thai Massage, and it DOES take quite some time to learn them all. 

My advice is this: Don't try to be a perfectionist. What feels really difficult today will feel very easy two or three months from now. Don't worry about getting every technique exactly right - that just won't happen. This is a process of gradual improvement, not a jump to the finish line.

I have often seen that students report that in the final stages of the course it all starts to come together and flow and feel natural. In the beginning everyone tries so hard to focus on just getting the techniques right, so it is all a bit mechanical.

But after a few months you won't have to think about the techniques so much any more because they will have become second nature. At that point you will be able to focus more on the flow, on finetuning, on sensitivity and feeling, and on the energy.

So don't be hard on yourself. Try to do your best and accept that it won't be perfect in the beginning. Perfection is a long road of progress, not an instantaneous achievement. Smile

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January 11, 2021 - 3:15 pm
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Module 7

It's been quite a bit of time since I last posted. I have continued to watch the videos and practice as much as possible...

I appreciate learning about doing a hip evaluation before beginning the massage. Although, I can certainly notice asymmetry in the hips, I am seeing through practice how it applies to the massage. This became very evident once I was able to practice on someone besides my husband. I can understand how practice and awareness will help me better serve my clients. But I can see how will become better at evaluating my clients as I work on more of a variety of people. 

Elephant walking the hands feels like a very natural move to me, but my husband has pointed out that I can apply too much pressure. I have found myself in the habit of repeating "softness" as I exhale into each move. It really does make a difference! Thank you for that tip!

Probably one of the easiest things for me when practicing is remembering to use my breath. It feels completely normal and natural for me to breathe out as I lean into a move. No doubt it stems from my many years of yoga practice! But it is lovely to have at least one piece of this that feels so natural. And I can really see the effect it has on my client. Even if the move isn't perfect, if I maintain a controlled breath with the movement and repeat the word "softness', I find a very relaxed and comfortable client. 

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January 12, 2021 - 2:43 am
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We have a high percentage of yoga practitioners/teachers in our community. They can typically relate to using their breath much better than massage therapists who have never done yoga and have never learned to work with their breath. One less 'new thing' to learn for you. Smile

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January 12, 2021 - 3:52 pm
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Module 8

I am so grateful for the hip pie! Putting the hip in that perspective really helps me remember how to move through the hip stretches. I am also grateful for the reminders that this is a modular system, not meant to be memorized and practiced in an exact sequence. Sometimes I get very overwhelmed at all the moves and techniques. More than once, I have made it to the mat with my practice client and completely forgot most of the moves. But slowly I have become able to just work with what I have, realizing that as I work it all starts to come back. 

When working with my oldest daughter we ran into the sensitivity and tenderness in the anterior hip flexors during the hamstring stretch. It gave me the opportunity to massage and work specifically on that area in order to perform the stretch. It helped that I was very comfortable with her, and she with me, so that I could get honest feedback on how it actually felt. 

The same evening I worked with my daughter, I also was able to work a little with my son-in-law. Wow, he is a stiff guy! All I did to him was the chi machine (good practice since he is also very tall) and foot and leg warm ups... no stretching. It was so interesting how different it felt! Great news, though! After only 20 minutes or so of the lower body warm ups, when he got up and started moving around he said he felt amazing. He said his legs felt so good and relaxed, like the energy was flowing more freely. He is certainly someone who would benefit from regular massages, and would be great practice for me. Unfortunately, he and my daughter live several states away. 

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January 12, 2021 - 8:19 pm
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You must be doing something right to get this result from working on your son-in-law. The good news is that you can look forward to many more such results from many clients. Smile

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January 15, 2021 - 6:50 pm
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Module 9

This module had a lot of information! I've really had to practice these moves over and over again. Still, I forget what I'm doing. Or I get so caught up in my own body position and the technique, that I forget to look at my client to see how it's feeling. So far, not so great!! But it is ok, I will continue to practice. It helps to know that these are some of the most difficult moves to learn and remember. I will be patient with myself. Also, I think the difficulty in learning these moves is the variables. All clients are at different levels of hip flexibility. And especially here in the USA, people hold a lot of stiffness in the hip areas. No doubt from our culture's tendency to sit way too much! Anyway, I see how this will help my clients. And I also see how this is an area that I will need to feel more comfort and confidence in order to provide a truly therapeutic massage. 

Thank you for the article about the sen lines. I understand your logic completely. I truly believe that the practice of the yoga asanas helps our flow of energy. The asanas allow pressure, stretching, and "creating space" in the tissues, etc. that aligns and allows the free flow of energy. Something I often say in my yoga classes: "Think about the actual reason you have a yoga practice. Sure, you can say its the physical benefits... you're strengthening your joints and muscles, improving range of motion, etc... You can say it's the mental benefits... that time you take to slow down and get out of your head... You can cite many reasons you do yoga, and none of them are wrong! But overall and universally you do yoga for one main reason. You keep coming back for this reason: it just plain makes you feel good. Most of the time you leave your mat feeling better than you did when you got on it. Something moves in you, around you, and through you. That is your subtle energy moving."

I believe this logic applies fully to Thai massage as well. We don't necessarily have to "work" every energy line exclusively. The overall practice, the actions of massage, compression, stretching, rocking, etc. work those sen lines for us. Thank you for helping me understand this. 

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January 16, 2021 - 12:09 am
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That's a very nice description of the benefits of yoga asanas, and it is something that I totally agree with. Sometimes a simple explanation makes much more sense than a complicated, convoluted, scientific, or esoteric answer.

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January 18, 2021 - 3:23 pm
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Module 10

I feel like I forget most of the techniques, yet I can get down to practice and take an entire hour working on the feet, legs, and hip pie! Each time I get down to practice I feel like it's better and better. It comes more naturally. My husband says it feels amazing. I have finally found my softness, I easily use my breath while moving, and now I am focusing on moving from my hara. (I found that the key to a great chi machine is moving from my hara!) It truly is making a difference. But I still forget the moves! Even though I am reporting on module 10, I am past it in my training. So, perhaps that is why I keep saying I'm forgetting things. For example, I still have not applied the blood stop technique. It slips my mind. Now that I've stated it, I'm sure I'll remember.... 

A few posts ago, I spoke about my son-in-law and how great he felt after only 15 minutes of feet/leg warm ups. You said that I must be doing something right to get that effect. I just thought I'd add here that I was also giving Reiki energy. I gave it during the warm ups, and took about 3 minutes in the end, just from his feet, pouring relaxing and calming energy into him. I felt the amount of stiffness and rigidity in his body certainly permeated throughout the layers of his being, and I was sending the Reiki in to "soften his edges." I'm sure the physical Thai techniques felt amazing, as well. But I couldn't take credit for just my practice attempt when I was specifically using Reiki.  

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January 18, 2021 - 9:51 pm
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"Feels amazing, finding your softness, comes naturally, using breath, moving from the hara" - that's excellent progress in my book!

I know that many of our students apply Reiki in their Thai Massage sessions. Whatever helps to improve a Thai Massage session is welcome.

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