I just completed watching the Introduction video. I have been practising squatting, kneeling etc. and though I do feel some stress on my ankles a bit, it feels really good to the rest of my body. I am also focusing more on my breath and how it connects to my energy.
Thank you Shama, I am excited to see how this work effects my body in a positive way!
Hi Erin, welcome to the Complete Thai Massage certification program. Please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification check list to make sure it is all organized correctly:
I am looking forward to working with you and observing your progress!
After watching the first module, I began to pay attention to my breath. As I work on clients doing Swedish and deep tissue massage, I have been applying the idea of breathing outwhen leaning in, and breathing in while leaning out. It can be hard to time this with the Swedish massage, but I do it as best I can. I realized a long time ago that I have a habit of holding my breath while working on clients. I’m not sure why I do this, but I would tell myself to breath when I became aware of myself doing it. Now that I have a simple way to apply my breath to the work I am doing, I am breathing more freely and I feel more comfortable while working on people. I love it!
My other thoughts on the first module have been about this idea of “magic touch”. As a spa owner, I hire therapists and I look for that “magic touch”. There is a quality of touch (you used those words as well) that I have thought is something that cannot be taught. I seems to me that people either have it or they don’t. When I received from Cindy Gogan, your graduate from this class, she had a profound “magical touch”, and I found myself craving her massage for weeks afterwards. It was one of the reasons I signed up for this class.
According to what you are saying in this module, you believe that this magical touch comes from a combination of technique, ergonomics, and breath. And that there is an intention with Thai massage to move energy in the body. I am curious to know if you find that this magical touch is actually something people can learn!
Looking back to my earlier years of being a therapist, I feel like “feeling my way around the body” was something I did naturally. I did not do deep tissue massage. My clients regularly commented on how I did not work deeply, yet the effects of my massage felt deep on many levels. As I continued to work full time, and the demand for deep tissue work increased, I took classes on how to perform deep tissue without injury, and realise now that I work with more focus on the muscles, tendons etc than ever before, and I find the work less satisfying to me! And my body is not happy. My back went out for the first time ever, forcing me to revisit how I work.
I am incredibly grateful already for this class, and how it is giving me the opportunity to work in a way that is more comfortable to my body, mind and soul. I look forward to seeing how my clients respond to this work as well.
Thank you Shama, and Cindy.
more notes on Module 1
I want to add that since watching Module 1, I have been more aware of my breath “as my energy”. It gives me a simple way to connect with my energy consciously, and connect with my breath consciously, a beautiful practice.
I am also much more aware of keeping my back straight and where my center of gravity is in relation to what I am doing. Though body mechanics are a big part of massage, and massage school, it has been a long time since I did any training, and I graduated massage school over twenty years ago. I have developed some bad habits which lead to my back going out! This class has already given me an awareness and easy methods to self correct.
I have long been aware that working on a table seems unavoidably hard on a therapists body, and have wanted to move to working on the floor for so long. I finally have the floor space for a mat next to my table and this class is making it possible for me to learn Thai massage!
I practised this first on a client on my table, moving my hips and focusing on his hips to then create movement throughout his whole body. It worked!
I then practised this as described, seated on the floor with the clients feet on my thighs. It was incredibly easy to do. I found myself holding their heals in the palms of my hands on the table and the floor much easier that holding their legs above the ankle. Is that ok? I hold their leg above the ankle to move their feet onto my thigh, but hold their ankle while doing the rocking. I will go back and watch the video again.
My second client was a therapist who had just worked a long day on clients. I thought it would be a good way to let go of the day in preparation for her evening at home. She commented that the “parasympathetic response” the technique created was wonderful.
In my excitement of performing this simple and effective technique I found myself loosing track of keeping my back straight and an awareness of my breath. I had to correct my posture a few times and reconnect with my breathing so that my awareness did not wander to far into my excitement! It was so fun to perform this technique, I just love the feeling of my body so integrated into the work.
I am happy to hear that this course is helping you with your ergonomics. Thai Massage is very therapist friendly, if done right. If done wrong, it can be very hard on your body. That’s why I am stressing good habits throughout this course, as you will see.
Regarding your question if the ‘magical touch’ can be learned – yes, to a point. Not everyone is suited to be a good massage therapist, just like not everyone is suited to become a good dancer or musician or quantum physicist.
However if someone has a propensity and a desire for being a good massage therapist, then such a greatly improved touch can definitely be taught and learned. Some people will improve their touch a little, and some a lot.
I talk about this throughout the course, and then there is the Magic Touch Secrets bonus course which is all about developing this magic touch.
As far as the Chi Machine is concerned, you are supposed to do this with the client’s heel in your hand. It can be done by holding the leg above the ankle, but at least when you are doing this on the floor, the best way is definitely by holding the heel and not above the ankle. I have personally never done it with the client on a table, so I can’t comment on this from experience. But apparently you have it figured out how to do it on a table!
I have practised the foot massage several times, and it gets easier every time. At first I found it hard to get my body in the right positioning for the circular/foot twisting technique. I found my clients feet kept bumping into my knees, but eventually I got myself in the right position. The push/pull technique takes practice to get when to push and when to pull. Are you pushing a little bit the whole way forward with more focus as the foot rotates out, then pulling the whole way backward with focus when the foot is fully rotated in? It seems more comfortable to me when the pushing and pulling is more about where my body is, I did for a few moments “feel the dance” in this technique. My client reported her feet and legs felt wonderful afterwards.
I was grateful that some of the time in the module was review, I was already starting to feel overwhelmed! It was nice to see Shama doing the steps in succession. I like the added foot techniques circling around the foot and ankle, my client especially enjoyed the circling from the ankle to the toes. There is so much to think about when learning this style of massage- where my body is, how I am using it, and remembering to breathe. This is true for any massage, but especially true when you are on the floor with your client navigating around their body and my own. I have to keep practising how to move to get my body where I want without disturbing the clients experience.
So far, I have been practising every technique as presented in succession, so that I am getting to practice each technique each time. I have been wondering if we will be presented with a particular sequence for a 60 minute or 90 minute session. Are we going to be learning many different techniques from which we can choose to create our own sequence? Shama, you did mention that we don’t have to do them all each time, that we may choose even just one that we are comfortable with and do that one for a while. I am worried if I don’t practice them all, I will forget how to do one!
I found myself spending time figuring out how to comfortably position my body to do the leg techniques. I was glad to hear you say that getting ourselves comfortable is of utmost importance. Once comfortable the techniques can be effortless! The squeezing and rolling of the leg muscles was easy until I started to over think it- do you squeeze then roll, or is it happening simultaneously?
Shama, is it ok if I address these posts to you directly? Or is it better for the purposes of the certification program that I don’t?
Regarding the push-pull technique: I push all the way forward, and then quickly rotate the foot, and then pull all the way back, and then quickly rotate the foot. The foot rotation is what makes this move fluid. Without it you would only push and pull in one position which doesn’t feel as good and has less effect since now the hip is not rotated.
However if someone is so stiff or locked up that this move is hard to do, I turn the whole thing into a straight push-pull rocking move without any rotation. That would be a much faster movement. However even then you can change the angle of the foot with each rocking motion, so you can still work on the hip in this way.
There are three summary modules in this course where you will see how you could put it all together. I have this motto that the techniques are options to choose from, not fixed and rigid sequences. The sequence that I show in this course is a good base line to follow.
However there are so many techniques in this course and in Thai Massage in general that you simply can’t put them all into one session – unless you want to do 2 or 3 hour sessions. So you will have to choose what to do in an actual session. This is often determined by who the client is.
If someone is very stiff, you would eliminate some of the stronger “yogi-type” stretches.
If someone is too heavy, you would eliminate some of the stretches that are too hard to do on a very heavy person.
If someone needs work on a specific area, you might work more and longer on this area, and skip or reduce work on other areas of the body.
If someone can’t handle certain stretches, you might replace them with more gentle rocking moves.
I always encourage posting all your questions and concerns here in the forum. This is the easiest way for me to keep track of it. If you have a more personal issue, you can also use the private messaging function of the forum or email me.
I practised all of the leg warm up techniques in preparation for the leg stretches, and my client fell asleep! So we did not get to the stretches yet.
I have found with the squeezing and rolling more comfortable with my palms than my thumbs.
I love using the forearms on the quads, leaning in softly. I found all of the techniques easy to do except when positioning the person to work on the inner thigh. Often it seems like your limbs are longer than mine, and your partner is smaller than mine, so positioning myself the same as you takes some figuring out so that I am comfortable and able to effectively use my body weight. The technique for the TFL is particularly exciting to me, as that is a hard place to massage well on the table, and this way it feels so effortless and comfortable to me. This was my second time practising these techniques, and it did feel already more comfortable.
I can’t wait to try the stretches in Module 6!
You are right, my positioning will not always work for you due to size issues. I recorded all the videos in Thailand, and here all you can get are small models, because that’s the normal size for females here. So unfortunately I could never demonstrate anything on a larger person since they are hard to come by here.
However with a little creativity and trial and error you can figure out how to make it work for you. This is actually a very important principle in Thai Massage. The real art is not in learning one sequence and always repeating it in the same way, but to be creative, modify and adapt techniques to fit you and your client. This will not necessarily happen in the early stage of the training, but over time you will develop this skill more and more.
today I purchased two mats from a fitness supply store, and I am so excited to use them!
I have been getting behind in the modules because my life has been so busy, finding time to practice has been difficult. But I am fully committed and working on catching up. So today I revisited all the videos I have practised so far and wrote notes on each module.
I also revisited the requirements for the certification program. I did enroll in the certification program the day I purchased the class but I didn’t fully understand about the exam program. I reread the requirements and followed the information to the page where you can log in, but it did not allow me to log in as a “new user”, it just had a login asking for email and password, or a link to reset the password. Did I receive a password when I signed up and missed it somehow? Or is there another link you can send me so that I can set myself up with one for the exam program?
I am not quite sure if I follow. You are talking about this page, right?
Then you would click on the second green bar at the bottom of the page that says “register”. You did not receive a login since you had not registered before. You need to register as a new student, and then it should all be pretty self explanatory.
One mistake which I have seen students make is that they did not scroll down far enough and they only saw the first green bar which is for existing students. Make sure that you scroll all the way down and click on the second green bar which is for new students.
let me know if this solves your issue or if there is something else going on.
Yes, that was it, I didn’t scroll down far enough. Thank you, I signed up for the exam, and got caught up on my questions so far.
I have a question on the technique of pressing the foot forward from module 3- all of the times I have practised it, my partner’s feet don’t naturally bend straight up, the tend to go out to the side and then up. Should I be firm in directing their feet straight up towards the body, or bend them up where they go naturally?
My partners left foot was more straight up, indicating more tension in the outside of the left hip. Her right foot went out to the side more. She notices her right hip more in that it gets sore, so her impression is that her right hip is tighter, but my observation and experience working with her was the opposite.
I did some of the feet and most of the leg warm up techniques to get her hips ready for the stretches. By the time I got to the stretches she was feeling some pressure on her low back from laying on the floor so long. She just sat up for a minute, and then we were able to resume. The Elephant walking on her thigh and calf felt effortless, and the Butterfly triangle stretch as well. She enjoyed both. She also loved the rocking at her hips. With the right angle foot hip stretch, she enjoyed the stretch at her hips on both sides, and on the right side found that where I grasped her foot was tender. With the foot walking part it was the same, I tried gasping in different spots, and with less pressure but it was hard to do it effectively. It wasn’t so bad that I had to stop, but I did less on the right side than the left. The squeezing and pulling stretch I was very excited to try because it looks like it feels amazing, which my client did report, however I found that it was a little hard on my back. This was the first time I got to practice it, so maybe it will get easier. We both loved the circular rocking at the hip in that same position.
My mom is very stiff from a hip replacement she had about four months ago. The doctor has told her she has no restrictions at all, so I look forward to practising on her!
My partner reported that her hips felt great, and that she felt more energetic afterwards!
Regarding pressing the foot forward – the main principle is to not twist the ankle unnaturally. That’s what you have to watch out for. The question is not so much in which direction your are pressing, but if you can maintain a good ankle alignment during the stretch. Normally this is best accomplished by keeping the foot right next to your thigh. However if it doesn’t work with this person, just watch and feel the ankle for the proper alignment that avoids twisting it.
With the “squeeze and pull” stretch, you have to make sure that you pull in towards the medial side. That will bring up the hip easily and make the stretch flow much more easily. Then make sure to rotate your body in a circle, following the knee movement. Pull primarily with your body, and don’t muscle the move. If done right, it won’t be hard on your back.
Thank you Shama, I think what I was doing as far as the pushing the foot was proper, and I just do what feels natural. I practised the “squeeze and pull” stretch again, this time on a bigger person and I focused on really using my body and pulling in the right direction and though it did not feel effortless it did not hurt my back this time.
I notice that when I am practising I get really warm and afterwards my hips feel looser.
My partner enjoyed the calf work, as did I. I found sitting in the position to work on the calves surprisingly difficult to get comfortable in, though I am very aware that the first time I practice any of these techniques not to get to hung up on anything, that they get easier and more comfortable with time. I also found the alternative to the first of the “hip pie stretches” where you use your arm under their leg more comfortable than having their foot in my crotch.
That’s a good realization that it is best not to get too hung up on your initial execution which will most likely not be perfect. I have heard from many students that they struggled with a technique, and a few days or modules later they wrote that suddenly they got it and it worked fine.
When I did they techniques for the first time 18 years ago, I am sure they were far from perfect as well! But with practice and repeated watching of the videos it will improve. But if you still can’t figure something out, I am pretty sure I can diagnose it and help you improve it if you describe what the issue is.
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