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Crystal Robbins Complete Thai Massage Course Notes
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Crystal Robbins
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January 20, 2021 - 4:51 pm
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Module 11

Perfect timing for a summary session! Just as there seems so many moves and techniques... Just as I am overwhelmed trying to remember the techniques, where to put my own body, and how to flow it all together... You put it all together for us. It relieved a lot of anxiety to watch how everything flows. 

This is a perfect chance for me to talk about my own Thai massage that I received about 2 weeks ago while visiting my daughter. My therapist gave a very "traditional" Thai massage. It was a one hour session that included supine and prone bodywork. I knew that I could consider it "traditional" because she "thumbed" all of my sen lines of the legs and arms. Plus, there was no rocking or any other different types of moves that you are teaching. Anyway, I don't feel that the massage was necessarily modified to fit me or my needs. It felt very much like a routine. However, it did feel amazing! I walked away with a good understanding of how it feels as the recipient. 

I am very grateful that you are teaching so much more than all of the traditional techniques. I get great feedback from the rocking moves, and I certainly would have appreciated them done to me. I do have a question, though. I felt very tender as she thumbed my sen lines, especially on my legs. Is it normal for some people to feel such tenderness on those energy lines? I was experiencing some muscle soreness from a very tough yoga class, but this tenderness came from places that weren't sore as well as places that were. 

Today I have a practice Thai session with a yoga instructor that is very flexible. I plan to do a full supine lower body routine. Just as this summary is covering. With her, I'll be able to practice some of the power moves. I'll let you know how it goes in my next post!

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Shama Kern
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January 20, 2021 - 9:09 pm
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The truth is that sen line thumbing can be quite uncomfortable or even painful. One factor is that many practitioners just press with muscle power which invariably will feel painful. However, if they lean in with their entire body and are aware of feeling softness in their hands, it will feel much better.

The painful feeling can be aggravated if the recipient is more pain-sensitive in the first place. This often happens on the outside sen line #2, the IT bands of the thighs. It is also often felt on the inside and outside leg sen lines #1 where it is really important to get the positioning right (inner and outer quadriceps).

So if the therapist works mechanically on the above-mentioned lines, and the client is quite pain sensitive or has very tight leg muscles, then the likelihood of experiencing pain is quite high, and the pain can radiate out to other areas of the leg as well.

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Crystal Robbins
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February 2, 2021 - 3:39 pm
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Module 12

Now that I have had a few practice clients, I've really been able to experience modifying stretches to meet the client's flexibility, of course, but also their size. This module on hip stretches was helpful in that it gave options for modifications, which I have definitely had to use. I am rather short, and I've worked on two tall people with long legs. I have yet to try the sequence which holds the client's feet to my abdomen, but I have tried the rest of the moves. 

I am becoming more and more comfortable with moving around my clients and performing the techniques. The session I had with my very flexible yoga instructor (mentioned last post) went very well. I've since had another practice session with another person. Working on different body types is definitely helping! 

Fun fact about my career trajectory: I began with putting people's bodies in positions while they are asleep. Then I learned how to tell people to put themselves in positions. Now I am putting them in positions while awake. 

Explanation: Until August of last year, I was a Surgical RN. (I am still an RN, but work in hospice now.) A big part of being a nurse in surgery is the positioning and prepping of the patient that is under anesthesia. Through that I learned how to move people through their range of motion properly, find proper alignment, watch pressure points, etc. I am also a yoga instructor, which means I learned how to verbalize positions for others to put themselves into. Now, here I am with Thai Massage...

Sprinkle that career experience with lots of customer service, nuclear physics (yes, for real), and a few other odd experiences, and you get a ME! Nurse, yoga teacher, Reiki Master, energy worker, soon-to-be Thai Massage Therapist. 

Isn't lovely how the universe works? It lines us up for all the experiences we need to grow into our purpose here on Earth. I love to hear people's stories about how they ended up where they are in life. And it's fun sometimes to sit and reflect on my own so I can see the big picture and the divine structure of it all. 

Thanks for listening!

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February 3, 2021 - 2:38 am
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Thanks for sharing your fun fact career history - I enjoyed reading it! Smile

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February 3, 2021 - 4:58 pm
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Module 13

In this module you discuss how to handle moves that feel painful for the client. In fact, when I practiced on my daughter, she had pain in the exact spot at the groin. I used the different techniques to help loosen up the area, and they really did help! Also, I used the technique of wiggling the leg into the stretch. I got good feedback for that approach, not only from my daughter, but from others I have practiced on as well.

I really like your explanation of good pain vs bad pain. Although I've always understood the concept, I appreciate how well you put it into words. Being a nurse, I understand the psychology around pain and discomfort quite well. It is very important that we are aware of what words we use and how we use them because so much of pain can be psychological. Much of it is about our level of confidence in ourselves, not even necessarily the "treatment" being used. And it is also about the rapport and trust that has been established (even if you only just met), and the client truly feeling that you have their best interest and comfort as your goal. 

Shama, I really appreciate how you address all of these topics around Thai Massage. Thank you for going beyond moves and techniques. The way to teach is how I wish to practice. 

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February 4, 2021 - 3:27 am
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I am glad that you appreciate my approach to Thai Massage and healing. I developed it over many years of working on people with problems. This was the majority of my clientele, and I soon found out that if I really wanted to help people, I had to go way beyond just doing standard massage techniques.

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Crystal Robbins
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February 16, 2021 - 2:37 am
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Module 14

I have started doing some free practice massages for some different clients with different body types/ abilities. This has greatly helped me in trying different techniques (hopefully) applicable to the client I am working with.

I receive great feedback from the less flexible people about the hip rocking. So far, I have only tried the technique suggested for a male on both males and females. It feels more comfortable to me for some reason. I also get good feedback for the half back arch stretch, but I'll admit it's somewhat hard on my body. 

I am still working very hard on ergonomics and transitions. It's pretty difficult to move gracefully around these people! At least for me! I have tried to switch sides on someone while rocking their hips so many times, and still have not accomplished that transition. However, the more I practice, the smoother it all gets. I am seeing my improvement with each session. But I definitely see why you stress the importance of the therapist's own body positions.

When I first started practicing with my husband on even just the legs and feet I would be worn out from practicing and feeling like I was crawling all around him. I would audibly grunt and groan (not too professional!) while I picked up and moved his legs or while I moved myself around his body. Even with my experience moving dead weighted body parts in the operating room, it did not prepare my body for this. In surgery, the patient is on a bed that the height and positions can be changed.

I was able to use the power of my legs, and even use equipment as necessary. Getting on the floor and moving myself and my client's body is a different story. The good news is I can do it for a solid hour now without feeling fatigued. But I definitely still need to work on my own movements and grace! 

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February 16, 2021 - 10:43 am
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It is so important to focus on working with your whole body and not just with the arms. Try to always refine the techniques by using your body weight whenever possible.

For example, if you pull with your arms only, you will tire them out. But if you pull with your entire body, it takes much less effort. Of course there is no question about the fact that working on people who are much heavier than you takes more effort on your part.

However if you work on people who are not that heavy, and it still tires you easily, then the culprit is most likely incorrect body mechanics and too much muscle use versus using your body weight.

Anyway, doing Thai Massage for a solid hour without getting tired is a good start!

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February 17, 2021 - 2:58 pm
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Module 15

I'm so glad you took the time to pay attention to this part of the body! I have been giving myself abdominal massages using the same techniques for years! However, I was going on instinct and just what felt good, working to alleviate digestive discomfort. I had no idea I was doing actual massage techniques.

Anyway, so far I have been able to try most of these techniques on about 5 people. When I finish the legs and hips, I then ask for permission to massage the belly area, ribs, and collarbone. Everyone has said yes, although 2 were skeptical. I am making it a point to ask permission because I understand how sensitive and/or protective people can be in that area. The skeptical ones enjoyed it and gave good feedback. At least 2 of my clients have had Thai massages before, and say that the therapist never touched their belly area, and those 2 clients especially liked the techniques. 

The best feedback has been for the double palm rotations, and that seems to be my comfortable go-to. It seems to be gentle enough for anyone. 

I have only tried the sternum massage on my husband. My other practice clients have been women, so the sternum and ribs were not easily accessible. But I have to be honest... I am the skeptical one about the sternal rub. In surgery, we used a sternum rub to wake up patients from anesthesia (if they were having a hard time waking up). Honestly, it is a way, by painful stimulation, to check a patient's level of consciousness. Even with my experience of seeing it used (and using the method in the recovery room), I do understand the benefit and importance of paying attention to that part of the body. It is, after all, protecting our very important heart and heart center. I imagine I will just always be very gentle with it and use discretion about using that move. 

Would a thymus thump be a good alternative to the sternum massage? Do you recommend it at all during a Thai massage? 

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February 19, 2021 - 12:33 am
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Yes, I do use thymus tapping in a gentle way. It's definitely not a thump, but a tapping with the bunched index, middle, and ring fingers. I don't use it as an alternative to sternum work, but as an addition or as part of it.

Regarding the abdominal work, I think in my 20 years in Thailand and the countless Thai Massages which I have received, there were probably less therapists than I can count on the fingers of one hand who worked on my abdomen. This is something that I have added into my style of Thai Massage since I felt it was needed and beneficial.

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February 24, 2021 - 3:31 pm
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Module 16

People really love the shoulder work! I am still trying to find a rhythm with my hands with the moves. And remembering to use my body weight instead of muscles! I can really tell when I'm trying to muscle these moves because they feel so difficult. I HAVE to use my whole body in order to do this shoulder work (and of course ALWAYS). 

Anyway, I have only pulled traction with my foot in the axilla on one person. For some reason, I got all in my head about putting my foot there. I personally have no issue with any body parts. Like feet, underarms, buttocks, etc. don't bother me. My client had no issue with it. But I just simply thought of the fact that people can be so WEIRD about FEET! Especially others' feet on them! To be completely honest, Americans are just so darn weird about their comfort levels with touch, and everyone is so different. So sometimes, no matter my own comfort level, I start getting in my head worrying about making my client uncomfortable because of how my body is touching them. It's very silly, I am aware. Even by going there in my mind, it will express in how I am touching and moving around my client. They will feel my trepidation. I know that. I imagine this will get better as my confidence grows. My feedback from practice clients continues to be great!

Regarding my last post and the thymus tapping. I referred to it as a "thymus thump" because a well-known energy healer and author, Donna Eden, calls it that. I just called it that without realizing what it sounded like. I definitely meant a gentle tapping, rather than a thump. Thumping the thymus with any force would be as uncomfortable as a sternal rub with force. I use the move on myself, along with a few other points that I tap. Thank you for the clarification. I will definitely be including it when appropriate. 

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February 26, 2021 - 1:35 am
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Yes, working with muscle power is stressful and not fun!

This is something I see a lot - therapists are more worried about a move than the clients are. One way around this is to tell clients before a session (if they are new to Thai Massage) that Thai therapists use many body parts, including hands, forearms, elbows, knees, and feet. Then it cannot surprise a client when you do use your feet. 

The 'thymus thump' does sound a little aggressive. Laugh I kind of thought that you didn't really do it that way, but I just wanted to clarify. Smile

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March 19, 2021 - 3:52 pm
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Module 17

Yes! One area where I have developed a bit of comfort! I was a practitioner in a Self-Care Day Retreat we did at my local yoga studio back in February. I was offering a 15 minute Reiki session, 15 minute Thai foot massage, or 15 minute Thai hand massage for each participant. Oddly, no one chose the foot massage... that surprised me. But some did choose the hand massage! I got lots of practice that day on the arms and hands! And great feedback. 

In my other practice sessions, the arm and hand work (as well as the foot work) has become second nature. I feel comfortable with the techniques. People really seem to like the arm stretch overhead that we can do on the transition between sides. (I can't remember for sure that it was in this module.) Every time I do that stretch on the transition I get something like, "oh, that's amazing." 

It's always nice just to reach a level of comfort with a technique or area of the body. Once I get comfortable, I then start to learn how to modify and perfect it for the client I am with. Sometimes, I can maintain that level of comfort even as I move on to other techniques and body parts, and I am positive that my relaxed and comfortable state shines through even if my skill is less than par. The challenge is in my maintaining that relaxed and confident state! It's a work in progress, and I'm happy to continue to work on it.Cool

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March 20, 2021 - 4:46 pm
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"Oddly, no one chose the foot massage" - that's odd indeed. People don't know what they are missing. Maybe they have never had the experience of a really good foot massage. Those have always been my favorites in Thailand.

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May 19, 2021 - 2:29 pm
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Module 18

It's been quite a while since I've posted! But I have completed the videos, and have started with paying clients.

Transitions have by far been one of the hardest things to learn! At first, I felt so clumsy in moving around people. I STILL don't have smooth transitions, but they are definitely improving with each client. I appreciate the instruction that you give on the matter. It keeps me mindful. 

I really like to do the upper back twist, but due to my own short stature I can't do it on all my clients. I still have not tried the stronger twist. I've had wonderful feedback from the figure 8 shoulder move. It took quite a bit of practice, but clients love it!

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May 19, 2021 - 8:54 pm
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Congratulations to the paying clients! All of this will keep improving with practice, and it will keep on improving forever, just like yoga practice.

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Crystal Robbins
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May 19, 2021 - 11:04 pm
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Module 19

By far, the videos I return to over and over are these review videos. It is so helpful to watch the flow of the moves put together. I always notice that there are techniques that I "forgot" about... meaning I haven't practiced them much and have yet to try them on a client. For example, in reviewing this video, I was reminded of a few more techniques that I can do with the shoulders. I always do the elephant walking on the shoulders to warm them up, but I completely forgot about rocking them back and forth or side to side. 

A great point you make in this video is about pre-planning to make sure you have the room necessary to perform some of the moves. My healing room is rather small. It is large enough to do a complete Thai massage, but depending on the client's height I need to make adjustments so I can move easily around them. In the beginning, I was finding myself asking them to scoot or just leaving them where they were and skipping certain moves. Now, I am able to assess the client and their needs a little better, and more easily arrange my space so that the sequence flows smoothly. 

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May 20, 2021 - 12:43 pm
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Great, this is so important in Thai Massage because you just need a lot more space than with Table massage.

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October 11, 2021 - 4:37 pm
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Module 20

In this module you discuss the importance of the client's comfort while in the prone position. When I ask my clients to go into the prone position, I often say something like, "Are you comfortable lying face down? If so, please come to lie on your tummy. You can use any of these pillows under your head or chest to get comfortable. You can be face down, or turn your head to either side and be on your cheek. Arms can be down along your sides or bent toward your head. Get yourself as comfortable as possible." I pay close attention to how they move and position themselves because it often indicates to me what type of work they might need on their back, neck or shoulders, possible physical limitations, etc. I have several pillows and bolsters of different sizes available for them to use.

Upon reviewing this module, I realized I have not been using the technique of the elbow on the bottom of the foot. I tend to use my thumbs for this while the client is supine. Since being reminded of this method, I will definitely include it more often in order to rest my hands and thumbs! I love reviewing these videos and finding these gems that I have forgot!

Like you, I have received excellent feedback for the work on the Achilles tendon! What a wonderful technique!

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October 12, 2021 - 4:43 am
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Glad to hear that you are well prepared with all your pillows and bolsters. They can make the difference between a strained and uncomfortable position and a comfortable and secure position.

Definitely use other body parts in order to save your thumbs. You can use thumbs, knuckles, forearms, elbows, knees, and feet to work on your client's feet. Not all of this is shown in this course, but it is all included in our more specialized Thai Foot Massage And Reflexology course.

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