October 19, 2012
I've always loved head and face massage. I know how incredible it can feel having it done, and as a massage therapist, I love watching my clients zone out while I work on their scalp and face. Imagine how excited I was to find this course that completely specializes in this awesome work! Here I'll recount my thoughts and experiences as I go through the modules of HHM.
Module 1: So happy to finally get this video and get to work. As far as how I plan to use this goes, I definitely plan to add this into my regular massages, and I would love to offer individual HHM sessions on their own, as well. If I incorporate this into a regular massage, is it appropriate to use at the beginning of the session, or is it more effective at the end? So far, I'm very impressed with Shama's teaching style; he is incredibly detailed and thorough. I also really like the idea of moving as a wave rolling in and out, and I see the meditative parallels with yoga (synchronizing your breath, moving inward with the exhale). I can only imagine how blissful this must feel to have performed on you!
Hi Emily, welcome to the forum. I am always happy to encounter someone who shares my love of good head and face massage. I am also glad that you like my teaching style - that helps:)
I have always incorporated 10 minutes or so of HHM at the end of my Thai Massage sessions. I like it at the end since I always felt that in this way it is similar to shivasana (corpse pose) in yoga which is generally the end of a yoga session.
I believe that the HHM massage at the end allows the client to integrate the beneficial effects of the massage session by zoning out and going into an almost trance-like state. My clients always loved it that way as well. It seems to me to be the perfect ending for a massage session.
You will get to the head and face section of the course later in the training.
I am looking forward to read about your progress and your experience with this course:)
October 19, 2012
Module 2: It's taking me a little bit of time to get used to working with the client's breath. I'm a yoga practitioner, so working with my own breath is something that I'm familiar with, but connecting with the client in the same way is something new for me.
Module 3: Quick question about about body mechanics here. Instead of practicing on the floor, I'm translating the lessons onto a massage table, since I'm pretty sure that's how I'll end up using them. At the point where you begin to thumb press along the clavicle, you adjust your position so that your forearms are resting on your thighs for support. If I'm using a massage table, how should I modify this? Should I sit down on a little stool? Also, my client really enjoyed the elephant walking up and down his chest. I wish someone would do this to me!
Once you get used to the breath synchronization, it can have quite an amazing effect on the energy between you and your client. It can also turn your massage into a really meditative experience which will steady your hands and transmit an almost magical quality of touch.
I have done lots of Heavenly Head Massage sessions on a massage table. I always sit on a stool, or even better a nice comfortable chair with a big pillow stuffed in your back so that you don't strain your back. The big pillow is so that you can comfortably sit towards the front of the chair, close to the client's head on the massage table, and still have a back rest.
When I do some of the chest work, especially elephant walking on a man, but also the thumb work on the sternum, I stand up so that I am ergonomically aligned and can use my body weight instead of pressing with muscle power. While standing, you lean over the chest so that your arms are more or less at a 90 degree angle to the chest of the client.
When working on the clavicle, you cannot rest your forearms on your thighs like when you are working on a floor mat. The ergonomics are a little different on a table.
I find that the best height for the massage table is about knee high for the best ergonomics during a HHM session.
October 19, 2012
Modules 4 & 5: I'm really enjoying this course. I have so many clients that come in with pain and/or tension in the neck, and while I feel like I gave a good neck massage, I've never felt completely comfortable with it. I've always felt like other therapists know how to really get into the neck in ways that I don't. Focusing so many different modules solely on the neck is something I really appreciate, and I'm eager to get these techniques down. I've already incorporated some of the warm-up diagnostic techniques from Module 4 into my regular massages as a way of loosening up the muscles, and have gotten positive feedback about it. Can't wait to learn more!
October 19, 2012
Modules 6 & 7: I really like the sideways stretch shown at the beginning of Module 7, where the practitioner's arm reaches underneath the client's neck and rests against the opposite shoulder. I feel like so far I'm the most effective at getting a good stretch with this technique, and my partner really enjoyed it as well. I really like that Shama stresses the importance of good body mechanics here, because I can vouch that if you aren't paying attention, you definitely can feel it badly in your back!
Is synchronizing your breath with the client important during the neck moves as well?
Some moves lend themselves more to breath synchronization than others. For example the leaning into the sternum is easy to combine with breathing, whereas a small circular movement on the neck might not be. However the general idea is to cultivate a breath awareness and an awareness of working with your energy, working from your hara. Heavenly Head Massage is more than a mechanical way of moving body parts around, it is an intuitive process of working with someone's body and energy.
Just check in with yourself when you work on the neck: Am I breathing, am I relaxed, is my position the most comfortable it can be, am I focusing only on my hands or do I work from the hara, do I work with my whole body as much as possible instead of just with my arms? That will put you on the right track.
October 19, 2012
Modules 8: It sounds silly to say, but in practicing these different neck stretches, I'm starting to notice how heavy some people's heads are! I'm a pretty petite woman, and most of my practicing is on a male partner. I'd say I'm pretty strong for my size, but I really am having difficulties holding my partner's head up for an extended period of time, such as with the first technique in the video (fingers and palms pushing in opposite directions). Guess I'll have to omit this technique from the routine until I hit the gym a little more
Module 9: The techniques presented in this video have been the favorite so far among the few clients I've practiced on. They all remark on how they've never had their ears really worked on, and definitely never to the extent that Shama shows. One client mentioned that he never realized he could hold tension in his ears until I worked it out! I really like ending the ear sequence with lightly cupping the hands over the ears, as this not only encourages meditation in the client, but the practitioner too!
Regarding the first technique in module 8: The one thing which can make this move difficult is if you place your hands too much on the side of the head. Then the head will tend to slide out of your hands and will feel very heavy. Try placing your hands a little more under the head so that it does not slide out. And make sure that your forearms are well supported on your thighs. Also try sitting a little closer to the head so that you can get your forearms supported closer to the wrist rather than near the elbows. These two suggestions should make the move a lot easier. It really should not require any visits to the gym .
Regarding module 9: In my experience ear massage is a winner every time. It just feels great!
October 19, 2012
Modules 10 & 11: I never would have imagined that there are so many different ways to massage the scalp! When I was in massage school, we covered Thai massage briefly. I recall learning that a common head technique in Thai massage involves "pulling" the excess energy from the body through the scalp, using somewhat vigorous jumping motions. Is the same idea behind the "light jumping" technique?
October 19, 2012
Modules 12 & 13: So excited to have finally gotten to the face modules! These are the ones that I have most looked forward to, as it is one of my favorite parts of the body to have massaged. The face is such a personal place, and I feel that having someone with focused intention and a warm soul work the face is such a healing experience, both inside and out. I know there is no way I can hold any stress in my body when I'm having my face massaged!
I really appreciate how Shama stresses the importance of not stretching the mouth, not getting too close to the windpipe, etc. Sometimes it's easy to enter a zen-like state of your own as the practitioner and not be aware of small, seemingly insignificant movements that may be uncomfortable for the client.
Regarding those vigorous jumping moves which are commonly practiced in Thailand - I don't like them at all and never use them. They don't feel good to me and I cannot see what purpose they serve. I don't believe this 'pulling the energy out of the head' story. It takes more skills to work with energy than doing vigorous jumping moves. Otherwise every Thai Massage therapist would be a gifted energy worker, and that is simply not the case.
Actually the Thais use several techniques on the head which I always found distinctly unpleasant: the vigorous jumping, a chopping with the edges of both hands on the forehead, very strong pressure on the temples with the thumbs, and pressing strongly on one point below the eyebrows.
I eliminated all those techniques and created my own system which is totally pleasant. I know, some people argue that you should press this energy point or that, but my experience is that it is much more important to create a state of energy in the head as a whole rather than pressing on certain points. And this is what Heavenly Head Massage does beautifully.
October 19, 2012
Module 14: This is the module that is going to take the most practice for me to master. Many of the HHM techniques I've gotten down pretty well already, but without the energetic component, these moves are just that: mechanical moves. However, I'm a pretty anxious, high-strung person, and I find meditation and slowing down my mind incredibly difficult. I practice yoga, but I sometimes get frustrated because I feel that I'm not getting the deep inner peace and meditative benefits that everyone else does. I feel that I'm steadily improving, but I have a long way to go to truly be able to calm my mind, feel the energy inside myself, and be able to transmit it to clients. Is it normal to have a hard time with this?
"I'm not getting the deep inner peace and meditative benefits that everyone else does."
Emily, not "everyone" is getting those benefits. Actually very few do in the western world, and your anxious mind is quite typical and nothing unusual at all. So you don't have to worry about not being able to slow your mind down instantly. This is a slow and gradual process that takes place over the years.
I have a western mind too, however I have found that the Heavenly Head Massage is a perfect way for me to engage in a meditative practice. It has helped me a lot to develop more peace of mind, especially when I am doing a session.
So yes, it is perfectly normal to have a hard time with this. And you can use the HHM to gradually progress in this direction. It won't happen overnight.