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Dennis Kettil’s Complete Thai Massage course notes
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Dennis Kettil
Skane, Sweden
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October 10, 2016 - 5:23 pm
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Module 1

I´m excited to get started with this course. I believe this is something that is totally right for me.

I find the positions and the way of working as described very natural. I really like the simplicity and scaled down way of doing things, why do things harder than it is…
I also like the “back to basics” set up with just a mat on the floor, that puts both the massage therapist and the client on the same level. Speaking of “back to basics”, being on the floor like that even takes us back to our inner child which we need to get in contact with to open up our consciousness. It also connects us with the way we use to live in the western world before chairs and stuff. So, our ancestors are with us and they are smiling…

I am very fortunate because I have my whole living room empty for yoga and massage. I´m thinking of what to get for a good set up. Of course I have some yoga mats and blankets I can use to start with. I´ll keep my eyes open for a more comfortable solution.

I also put it out there to get all kinds of people as practice partners.

All the best

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Shama
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October 11, 2016 - 12:26 am
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Hi Dennis, welcome to the Complete Thai Massage course. I just want to check in with you about your posting. Are you posting just to share or did you want to enroll in the certification program in order to get a certificate?

I did not see a certification registration form from you, so as of now I assume that you are just sharing. Is this correct?

If that’s not your intention and you do want a certificate, then please fill out and send in a certification registration form (explained in the certification section of your course manual).

You are right, there is a simplicity in doing Thai Massage which is easy-going, natural, and practical. At the same time Thai Massage is quite a sophisticated system as you will see in this course. 

Thai Massage had to work in a simple setting since in Thailand massage tables did not exist until fairly recently, and are still rarely used for Thai Massage. I have never owned one in my entire massage career and never needed one. Anyway, massage tables are not advantageous for Thai Massage unless you blend it with table modalities like Swedish.

That sounds great that you have a dedicated space set up already. I am sure you will easily get yoga people for your practice sessions. It’s a perfect fit for them.

Yoga, Reiki and martial arts are the perfect background for Thai Massage. That will make it much easier for you to learn it and to relate to the concepts.

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Dennis Kettil
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October 11, 2016 - 12:50 am
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Hi Shama,

Oh, I just forgot to register for the certification program. It´s done now.

Thank you very much.

That sounds great.

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October 11, 2016 - 1:24 am
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Got it, thanks. It looks like you have it all figured out with the forum, but as a standard practice I always post  the link to our certification check list here to make sure that we are all on the same wave length and to make sure it is all organized:

Certification Check List

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Dennis Kettil
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October 12, 2016 - 2:45 am
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Module 2

Today I tested the Chi Machine technique on four different people, they all enjoyed it very much.

I practiced the movements on my own a couple of times yesterday since I didn´t had anyone to practice it with. I found out that it is quite a good practice to do by yourself, just to get the rhythm going, practicing to be relaxed and feel comfortable with it. It also loosens up the lower back and kind of massages the lower belly. I believe that to get a nice movement with a klient you have to find that relaxed and rhythmic continuing motion.

So today at the yoga studio I asked four people if I could practice a technique on them, and of course they all said yes.

The first one was my yoga mentor (the guy that I took my yoga teacher trainings for), he is pretty muscular and somewhat compact and in average size. He is also flexible and loose when in a relaxed state. With him it was easy to get the motion going. He enjoyed it very much and felt relaxed afterwards. He also said that it was a good one and that he would steal it and use it himself. Sure, I said. We both are thinking the same thing, it´s a good thing to end a yoga class with when the students are in the final resting pose.

The second one was a young girl, small size. She had been going all day and was kind of stressed. She was a bit stiff and I could feel the stress in her. It took some time but after a while she started to relax more and more. She told me afterwards that it really helped her to ground herself and she got more relaxed.

The third person was a quite big madame in her best age. I believe that it´s common to think that the bigger they are the harder it is, so did I. So I got really surprised to experience that she was the easiest of them all to get going in the Chi Machine. She was really loose and it felt really good. Another experience I had with her was that she told me early in the beginning that it would be better if I relaxed my shoulders when doing it (know, she´s an experienced body worker and she just picked that up lying on her back with closed eyes). I relaxed my shoulders and we both felt better. I noticed that if I am tense in my shoulders, the client is also. That makes it even more important to be relaxed as much as possible to get the client more relaxed as well. I believe the client becomes a mirror to yourself, and the other way around.

The fourth person was a long, slim and fit lady. She felt very stiff, not so much in her lower body but more in her upper body. Also very stressed after a busy day. I tried the technique the same way as I done with the others. At first her upper body didn´t move much and her head not at all. After a while everything moved but the head didn´t move much at all. I asked her if she had a stiff upper body, like shoulders and neck but she wasn´t aware of that. Anyway, after that I just let her rest and she took a long rest. After a while I had to ask her if she was sleeping, I got some mumbling sounds back so I let her rest some more. Again after a while I asked her how she was feeling and she felt really good. Then I asked her if she wanted another round, sure she said. Then I started with the same intensity and then into a more vigorous motion, then I really got her going and almost tossed her from side to side on the floor (I had to use some muscle power to do that as well), then she opened up more in her moves and she crackled with a very high laughter. Then I got back to the gentler approach and she got calm and relaxed. She said that the technique really cleared her mind.

The common experience for them all was that they got more relaxed and grounded, and they felt better both in their bodies and minds. A really good technique.

I told them that now they are officially my practice objects for some time ahead, they all agreed to that and seemed happy to get some free massage. Well, who wouldn´t?

All the best

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October 12, 2016 - 2:54 am
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Wow, what a great story! You have a ready made practice clientele, and you did some serious practice work already – and got good results! You will keep your new practice partners busy for several months now. I am sure there will be many such inspiring and uplifting moments in your sessions. Can’t wait to read more stories from you! Smile

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Dennis Kettil
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October 15, 2016 - 8:25 pm
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Module 3

Nice techniques and good feedback.

As before I started out with practicing my own movements with an imagined client. Both to remember what to do and to get a feeling for it. Then I can focus on getting the right angle for example without getting disturbed by the client.

I´ve tried the techniques on my mother this time. She´s kind of small and with average body.

First time felt a bit awkward, it took some time to get the right feeling. Also to do it right of course, I noticed several times that I didn´t do it right. Like bent arms when they are supposed to be straight, missing to move the hands to a new spot of the feet, bending my wrists, wrong angles and so on. Another thing was when I was sliding my leg under the clients leg, first times I didn´t get close enough and that gave a feeling of disconnection and as a result I did the technique in a not so good way.

The second time was much better. I could feel the connection all the time and it felt more natural and had a flow. I knew about what I had to be aware of to do it better so I could easily avoid the stuff I had troubles with before. For example to slide in the leg under the clients leg long enough to have a good connection and to be able to do the technicues in a good way.

When doing the technicues the second time I could focus on the feeling more and was excited over that feeling, it feels really good to see how well the techniques works on a client. Just the way a “simple” foot technique can work with the whole body, and not just for the client but for the massage therapist as well.

My mother felt good of course, she said that the legs felt more open and that it started a flow in the legs. She also says that the movements felt very natural and complete, also that it really works to the depth of the being. It seems that it has started some sort of movement that is continually going on. She puts it like a vibrating sensation in the body, especially around the heart chakra and out in the upper body.

Good to know is that me and my mother has a deep relation and are working with ourselves to the depths. I can imagine that if the client are more closed you can´t get deeper than the client allows.

A really nice practice with really nice results.

All the best

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October 15, 2016 - 11:16 pm
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If you got into the flow the second time around it is pretty darn good. Smile For many students it takes more times than two! 

Your mother is clearly very sensitive and in tune with her body and energy. You are right, some people won’t allow themselves to feel that much and they will have a more limited experience. Nothing you can do about that. Working with very open clients is more fun, but we also get the not so open ones. That’s just part of our work.

However I have experienced that more closed clients can gradually open up through a number of sessions, and that’s a wonderful experience for us as therapists – and for the clients as well.

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October 18, 2016 - 3:22 am
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Module 4

Just a note for Module 3 first: The first time I run it through a couple of times, so the second time wasn´t really the second time but maybe fourth or fifth time.

This one I practiced on my mother as well. After Module 3 I could easily get into this one, also after your explanations about the eight ways of working with the feet. I find it much helpful to think like that. Maybe I found it easier also because it´s more what I like to think a foot massage is like. I mean working more on the feet, but it´s still affecting a greater part of the body.

Anyway, it came very natural for me to do this techniques. I ran it through from the beginning and the new techniques came naturally after the ones before. I instantly thought of kneadling a dough when I saw the first one, it´s kind of nice to picture that when doing it. But maybe you shouldn´t tell your client that… I´ve done some massage before with this kind of movements so there were no problems with that (I mean the movements of Module 4). The new thing for me is to move my whole body, I really like that because of the more natural feeling to it. I also find it easier to feel and connect to the client when I use my whole body.

My mother liked this very much, she said that she almost fell asleep and that she wouldn´t mind getting this massage for a whole day. She is also fascinated by this kind of massage because it runs deep and she has never experienced anything like it before.

Another thing that is interesting and very nice is that these days when I went to my mother we have managed to lift some issues and solved them more or less. I won´t get into exactly what but it´s about some really deep rooted issues. It has been a weekend with a lot of massaging and talking, I believe that this massage has been a great help to loosen this issues and put them into the light.

Really nice, I love it.

All the best

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October 18, 2016 - 11:24 pm
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You are clearly a good fit for this course! Right from the beginning everything seems to work out well. It is fairly typical that you can put people to sleep with a good Thai Massage (I like to call it “putting people into a trance state”). However that you can do this right in the very beginning of the course is not so common. Smile

I can relate to what your mother is saying. Personally I love getting really long massage sessions (provided the therapist is good). Here in Thailand this is easy since massage is so much cheaper than in the western world. Where I live you can get Thai Massage for about $5 per hour.

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Dennis Kettil
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October 21, 2016 - 4:36 am
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Module 5

That sounds great! Smile I try to put my healing knowledge/abilities into my hands when massaging and it seems to work very well. I´m also really happy to get this course because it feels like I have all that I need after this course.

I really love the way it works, and today I really felt good in my body after the practice. I tried the new techniques on two people and they both really liked it. Of course I did all the techniques from earlier modules as well, it took me 20-25 minutes on each person.

The first one was my yoga teacher, the one I told you about earlier, average size, kind of compact body, flexible and strong. He went into that trance state very fast and his arms started to twitch now and then. I love this as well, how you can get the whole body to react by working with the feet and legs. He told me afterwards that he felt how energy started to rise from the root chakra, and then went upwards to the heart chakra and then out to the hands through the arms. A great experience!

The second one was the younger smaller woman, that I also mentioned earlier. She was more controlled but could let go somewhat after a while. She was a bit ticklish on her lower legs and on the outside of the thighs, some hapiness is always welcome. She also had a bit of pain in the upper part of the right thigh when I pressed it (the first technique), it got better after a while. We talked for some time after the massage and she told me that it felt like the blood circulation got better. Hmm, I thought, and asked: What about the energies in your body? She told me that she couldn´t feel the energies. I said that when she feels the blood circulation improve it´s actually the energy flow she feels and that pain actually are blocked energy, so everything you feel are energies. The only thing you need to do is to think of everything as energy. She also mentioned that she felt happy or almost laughed during the Chi Machine, so we also talked about restrained emotions in the hip area that can arise during a massage. And about the close connection between happiness and sadness, and some other things. So it opened up for a deeper conversation as well. Also a great experience!

About the techniques: As I said before I find it very natural so no major problems. It´s a bit of trying and thinking of what to do in the beginning, but it´s really helpful to try it out some times with an imagined client to get the moves and that also helps remembering the techniques. I like to thank you for the way to see it as different ways to work with the bodyparts instead of a bunch of techniques, that helps a lot too. A question about the technique where you press with one hand and pull with the other on the thigh (the last one on the inside of the leg): Is the feeling like squeezing a cloth but you do it with one hand at a time?

A few words about my body feeling better after massaging: I experienced it before after doing some healing work, you become more sensitive for the energies after a healing session and that makes you feel good if you´re working with good energies. With this massage and by moving the whole body you also get a more physical practice/workout, and that combined with the energies you feel really good. It´s almost like having the massage when you´re giving it. I find this very interesting and looking forward to explore it further. A thought that arise is: The better massage you give, the better you will feel. So it´s a responsibility we have as human beings to always do the best we can, then we feel better as well as the people in our surroundings. 

My yoga teacher has done a lot of Thai Massage, he learned it in Chiang Mai during his visits there. He didn´t recognized all of the techniques and asked me if it´s a southern style, is it? I told him that you keep the traditional stuff and that you change it if you come up with something better.

To finish up for this time… It could be a bit of a challenge to practice on someone who is a massage therapist or bodyworker, because they are curious and wants to see how you do what you´re doing. But that´s only a great testimonial that your teachings holds a high class. Great!

All the best

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October 22, 2016 - 12:14 am
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You will do great with Thai Massage, I can see that already. Your yoga teacher’s experience was quite amazing. Either he is super sensitive to energy, or you are a great energy transmitter, or both.

Also it is excellent that you open communication channels with your partners. Often good communication can make a major difference in the effectiveness of the session, and what to speak of the trust factor which is largely established via good communication. There is actually an entire module about client communication at the end of this course.

Regarding the press-pull technique on the inner thigh – I never thought of it as squeezing a cloth, that’s a new concept for me. To me it feels like kneading doe, kind of. I guess we all find our synonyms for what it feels like to us. The main thing is that this technique is flowing in and out with the upper hand leaning in and rolling the adductor muscles out.

It is true, Thai Massage gives you, as the therapist, an inner and outer workout which makes you feel much better yourself. 

In regards to your teacher’s observations about my style – I don’t label it northern or southern style. It is my own style. It contains many traditional elements, and it also contains many elements and techniques which you cannot find or learn in Thailand at all. For example the Chi Machine is not known or taught in traditional Thai Massage, and neither are most of my rocking techniques which you will learn throughout the course.

Also all the breathing, hara focus, energy focus, is not normally taught in Thai Massage. This comes from my background in martial arts, yoga and energy work. So I blend quite a few elements with traditional Thai Massage which make a great system even better. And I skip techniques which don’t work that well or are potentially dangerous, and I avoid harsh, quick, mechanical ways of working in favor of slower, intuitive, creative and energy focused work.

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Dennis Kettil
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October 26, 2016 - 2:59 am
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Module 6

Thank you so much for your feedback. Great!

I really like that you put in stuff like the breathing, hara and energy focus. I´ll put a lot of healing into this, after all it´s all about healing.

Today I have what I believe is some very important experiences.

I tried this module on my yoga teacher, we didn´t have that much time so it was just the techniques of this module. He said that it felt really good and very nice, we didn´t have time to talk more about it this time. When I came to the outside sen line #2, he said it felt uncomfortable. That I used too much pressure. I thought I put as much pressure as in the previous techniques. I reduced the pressure and he said it felt much better, really nice. I understood that it´s enough with about half the pressure because you kind of put pressure from two directions in this one. Both from the arm pulling towards you and then from leaning against it and squeeze it against your lower belly. I also had some problems with positioning myself correctly, so I had to do some adjustments and then it worked much better.

I also tried all i´ve learned so far with a new practice client, it took about 40 minutes. A woman in average size. It felt really good right from the start and all the way through, with some minor adjustments. It´s also that I have to think about what i´m doing, so I can´t focus that much to the feeling. But I try to just think while changing positions and then let go and focus on the feeling. Anyway, I told her to feel free to speak if anything comes up.
After a while she said that she felt energy running up her back, and that she could feel where she was blocked in her body. When I worked on her right leg she said that she felt the blockages. And when I worked on her left leg she said she felt more. So I asked her if she meant that she felt more blocked on the left side or if she felt more energies moving (that she was more open in the left side)? She said that she didn´t know. I said that it´s a very important and major difference, so I hope she´ll find out.
When I did the outside sen line #2 I put just half the pressure into it and that was just right I understood. I also understand that you have to be really careful and sensitive with this techniques, it´s very powerful techniques.
We also talked about how it is like a dance between the therapist and the client. I believe she is very open and sensitive to energies, so for me it was a great pleasure to massage her. It was just a very nice flow to it.
Afterwards we talked some more. She have some psychic abilities. She told me that she saw like a tank over me with healing energy pouring out of it and into her, she described it as white and blueish energies. There were also a lot of birds, dragons and angels around us. That´s a great confirmation for me because I really like to work with this kind of beings and it feels good that someone can perceive them.
We also talked about balancing the unbalanced. She asked earlier what the top of the thighs was connected to, I said that I really don´t know and that it´s not that important. It´s better to just say that you have an imbalance and we´re going to balance it. Then you don´t get cought up with a label that you can identify yourself with.
She is also a bodyworker/healer so we decided to exchange sessions in the future to come.

All the best

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October 26, 2016 - 6:36 pm
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Great stories again!

The outside leg sen line #2, which are the IT bands in western terminology, are typically quite sensitive to pressure. There you are also a lot closer to the bone than if you work on the adductors or the hamstrings – there is just less padding there.

You clearly tend to attract people who are tuned into energy. We all attract what resonates with us. Some therapists never encounter anyone who can feel, sense or see energy. It is more fun and more inspiring if you deal with people who have more energy awareness, provided of course that you can relate to that, which in your case is obviously so.

Same as you, I tend to not get too much involved in labeling things, etc. I just follow what I feel, see and sense during a session.

It is normal that while you initially learn the techniques you can’t 100% focus on flow. That happens when you don’t have to think about the techniques anymore, when they have become part of you and are instinctual. And that just takes some time. However I still make references about the flow and the energetic aspects throughout the course so that it really sinks in. Then, when the techniques have become second nature, the more refined elements of Thai Massage happen naturally and spontaneously.

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October 28, 2016 - 3:57 am
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Module 7

Oh yes! Thank you very much.

This is a very nice module. I like stretching people I noticed. Again I got fascinated how you can work with the clients whole body with small efforts.

I did all the modules on the smaller woman, it took about 50 minutes. That´s also fascinating how time flies when you give massage and recieves it, we both didn´t feel it was for so long time. She enjoyed it greatly and said she could feel the energies moving all the way up to the head.
I had some problems in the begining with the last stretch, to keep the circular rhythm going. But after a while I got a hang of it. Great technique.

My yoga teacher was next up, he had some lower back pain and I emedietly thought of the last technique as a good one for that. I had just about 10 minutes to practice with him, so I just did the module 7 (yes, he was warmed up). He said it got better but came back after his next class. Anyway it´s a totally different feeling working on a larger and heavier man, so the use of my whole body comes very handy.

Next one was the newest woman (average size), the one that picks up energies very easy. This was a great practice once again. I did a full hour, all modules so far. Last time we talked quite a bit during the session, but this time we didn´t say a word. When I was done I thought she was sleeping. I waited a few minutes and then lightly touched her shoulder and asked her if she was awake. She was but bearly, I said she could keep resting for a while and I put a blanket over her. When she came back she looked really drowsy and high on energies. She said that she liked when she didn´t know what was coming next, that it was just to let go and enjoy it. Last time I practiced module 1 to 6 with her, and this time I added this module. She liked the second part of this module best (foot pressing + leg pulling and feet walking).

All the best

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October 28, 2016 - 5:58 pm
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If you can do a one hour session with just the first 7 modules, then towards the end of the course you will be able to do 5 hour long sessions! Smile 

Actually this shows that Thai Massage lends itself to longer sessions. Personally I have never done less than 2 hour sessions in my entire Thai Massage career, and I have done many 2.5 and 3 hour sessions.

I always love it when clients go into this trancey state and take a while to come back to normal waking consciousness when I am done with a session. This in itself is great feedback for us!

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October 29, 2016 - 11:44 pm
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Module 8

That sounds great! Then I have to find someone who wants a five hour session. Smile I believe many people wants it but few here in the western world can set aside the time.

I tried the new techniques on my yoga teachers wife, average size. She liked it and said that she really need some massage like she wasn´t aware of it before. This was just to try this module and not for that long. We´ll probably book a longer session later. She is very open in her body so I can´t wait to try this with a more tensed person.
The last technique I knew since before, but just the basic one. The add ons to it is very nice and very good to have in the toolbox. I really like it also because of the common sense to it.
I tried the first techniques on myself, but on the hamstrings and it felt very nice. I especially liked the ones on the sides of the knee.

All the best

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October 30, 2016 - 1:16 am
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“Few here in the western world can set aside the time.”
I think even fewer can set aside the money to pay for 5 hour session, unlike Thailand where Thai Massage is cheap enough that money is not much of a consideration, at least compared to the western world.

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Dennis Kettil
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November 2, 2016 - 4:30 am
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Module 9

Yes, you´re right about that.

This module and the earlier ones I tried with that smaller woman. This was the first time she got into a trancelike state. Could have been because we didn´t spoke as much as we did in earlier sessions.
She is pretty open in her legs when they are bent, but not with straight legs. Some directions was kind of stiff even with bent legs. So I got the opportunity to try some rocking to loosen up the muscles, it felt great to see how well that worked. I believe it was like you said, that sometimes the client can tighten their muscles without thinking or knowing about it and when they get to know about it they can relax more into the stretch.

She took a yin yoga class that I held after the massage session, so I asked her if she could focus a bit how it feels after a massage. She said that the massage had improved her flexibility, that she could go a bit deeper in the yin yoga postures. That´s a really good feedback, to know that it improves flexibility and that she could feel it (be aware of it).

The techniques in this module came very easy to me, it´s mostly the same technique as before but in other directions. I like the loosening and relaxating rocking movements before going into the real stretch, I also think it feels good for the client to get into a stretch in a gentle way. Hmm… I didn´t thought of asking about that, it came to me now.

Finally the last technique, the spinal twist, was/is really nice to do. I like it a lot.

All the best

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November 2, 2016 - 11:22 pm
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I have always been a proponent of a more gentle and gradual way of getting into Thai Massage stretches. This had been driven home to me around 15 years ago when I got a Shiatsu session from someone who “warmed me up” with a massive adductor stretch which tore some muscle or tendon fiber and which caused me pain and discomfort for years after that. I wanted to make sure that my students would never do something like that.

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