For video lesson 1 through 3
Hi - I introduced myself in the intro forum after taking my first lesson. I am really enjoying the class so far. You are right though - I am anxious to go faster but I can see now after finishing video 3 that I should probably watch and practice these techniques several times before moving on. So having 3 days in between sessions is good thing.
From video 2 - I was a bit concerned about being worn out after doing a message but working with the correct ergonomics and focusing on my breath as well during our practice sessions is not taking too much energy after all and I don't feel tired or stressed at all.
On video 3, I was a bit nervous picking up some of the methods such as the Chi machine, but was really surprised that I was able to do it right off the bat with my partner.
I was also apprehensive about doing foot message work and found that while working with my partner that it is very important part of message therapy and I can see how enjoyable it was to her and how therapeutic it can be.
Overall - I am pleased that I seemed to have picked everything up pretty well so far and my partner is giving good feedback on comfort and how effective the stretch or technique is.
So far though, just from the few techniques I've seen (we also are looking at the mini course), my partner loves the compression/traction technique on the leg and I feel pretty comfortable doing that as well.
That's what I call a good start - all your apprehensions vanished, you can easily do techniques which are often not so easy to do in the beginning, like the Chi Machine, and your partner loves what you are doing. Some people are more natural than others when it comes to massage, and you seem to fall into the first category.
I hope that I am doing this right (i.e. continuing with adding replies to give comments/feedback on the continuing coursework)?
So, I have now watched both foot massage videos and the leg warm up. We have been practicing quite a bit on the footwork and I am beginning to feel really comfortable with that. We have watched the videos on the footwork twice.
On the leg warm up however, after our first practice session, based on my partners feedback, I can see I might need to watch the video a couple more times and have several more practice sessions. She says that sometimes I feel like I'm pinching her. I think I might be being too strong handed. Overall, my partner was not that keen on the leg warm up techniques. Do you find that others also find the leg warm up not as relaxing? My partner, who is taking the class with me also practiced the leg warm up techniques on me, and for instance, on the palm pressing on the upper thigh area, I found that to be kind of uncomfortable, even though we think she was doing it correctly.
Still loving the class though and getting alot out of it!
Yes, you are doing it exactly right.
No, I don't find that others find the leg warm up techniques not as relaxing. They should feel good and relaxing. You provided the answer yourself already when you said you might be a bit heavy handed. But don't be hard on yourself since you are starting this course.
You will hear a lot about quality of touch in this training. The secret is to keep your hands and wrists relaxed and focus on a feeling of softness. Just imagine your are massaging a baby or a little kitten, and then try to feel how you would touch those fragile little creatures. Now transfer this feeling to your touch when working on an adult.
You can always work harder and stronger. That's easy. However working gently and softly with a lot of sensitivity is much more difficult. When doing massage you have to develop a feeling of sensuality in your hands. I am not talking about the sexual variety, but about the kind of loving touch you would use on someone who is very dear to you. This might be a spouse or a child or a pet.
What I suggest for you is to focus a lot on working gently, on developing a softness of touch, and on developing sensitivity in your hands. Once you get better at that, you can always add the power to it. That will be easy. There is a good reason why what you are learning is called "a healing art". It is an art, and not just a technique.
The other thing which is almost always a major factor if your touch does not feel good, is that you are working with muscle power instead of with body weight. Using muscle power never feels very good. The secret is to always work with body weight and not with your muscles. This is a mistake which even experienced massage therapist are making frequently. You will hear a lot about that in this course as well.
All this will come with practice. You will see that I talk a lot about all this throughout the training, so you will have lots of help. The beginning is always the most difficult phase of Thai Massage training. Later it will get easier and feel more natural.
I have been away from the forum for quite a bit. Before the holidays, I was called away to work out of town for several weeks so was unable to do much on my class. I am now back at it full force and have finished up all the leg stretch work.
My partner and I (Joleen) have been practicing after each session and we find much of the leg work pretty difficult and awkward but admittedly know this comes from lack of experience. We have decided that we will need to watch the videos several times! We also tried around session 12 and 13 to try executing the techniques WHILE watching the videos. This was helpful but you have to stop the video very often.
We also, after about the 5th session, started taking notes and "naming" the various techniques with names that we liked that would help us remember the technique. We have some very creative names for some of the techniques - like hip jiggle, the tree hugger, and the rowboat.
Once we got to Lesson 11, the total massage, we knew that as excited we are to get started practicing on friends/family or even clients - we have a lot of work to do to feel confident.
We are now beginning on the shoulder work (which we both love), and are very excited to move into the other sessions.
I will be recording in the forum more often now that we are back on track to our routines and looking forward to learning more.
I know that life can get in the way of a practice routine. Luckily this course will always be available for you and I am not going anywhere either.
The leg work is probably the most challenging section of the course, and since it is in the beginning of the course, it appears more difficult anyway. However once you get more into the later sections of the course, it will all feel more natural and easy. Many of my students have experienced this. The beginning can feel like a struggle, and in the end it will feel like it all flows.
Watching the videos several times is absolutely essential. I can guarantee that nobody will succeed with this course just by watching the videos one time only.
It sounds like you have a neat system in place now with your notes and your names as memory joggers.
After lesson 17 -
I have always enjoyed a good hand massage and it is one of the parts of the course that I am more confident in doing. So that's good!
This will definitely be a part of my routine with clients.
And just to let you know that I was paying close attention to THIS video, I noticed that you may be a dog owner. We also have several dogs and they love to get massages too!
Dogs are great receivers for massage. Did you ever read this article I wrote about this subject?
Checking in after viewing and practicing several of the videos about the prone position and we are now starting on the side position. Today was a good day for practicing our techniques because it's snowed quite a bit in our city and we took the day off, so we got a lot of practice in.
I am feeling really good about the back and shoulder work maybe because those are the areas where I need the most work myself. Not only is it good practice for me but it's quite enjoyable to have Joleen practice on me as well.
We will be doing some review work later tonight (on our snow day) to refresh ourselves as we are now caught up on what you send us via email.
Feeling more confident after every session and practice.
Talk to you soon - Greg
It's quite normal that in the beginning of the training it all feels kind of wobbly and strange, but as you are experiencing, after a while it sinks in and starts to feel more natural. It's like learning to drive a stick shift car. In the beginning it feels like a bucking bronco, and then later it just becomes part of you.
As long as you keep practicing and re-watching the videos you will keep improving. If you don't watch the videos several times, you will forget things and not catch other things. Regular practice is the simple secret.
If it feels good to you and your partner, then you are on the right track.
Well I am winding down the coursework and feeling very excited. Joleen and I have a plan about how we want to proceed to begin working with people and even though the classes have been really great - we want to be very comfortable before we begin, so we are going to go through the entire course again and take better notes this time
You know I never really saw myself doing something like this in my life. But now that I have learned it, I like it alot. Your videos helped because I can learn privately and at my own pace. I like your insights on making the massage like an art form - I can get into that concept.
Ok, well we will touch base in a bit, but wanted you to know we are still watching, still practicing, and still enjoying the course. Thanks - Greg
Going through the entire course again is an excellent strategy. So many of my students have told me that every time they re-watch a video they pick up something new which they had missed the first time around.
I know from my own experience that Thai Massage can be addictive. It is so immensely useful and practical and easy to do without the need for a massage table, oil, sheets, undressing...
Personally I started my massage career with Thai Massage and I just expanded this more and more. The trick is to not just stay at a certain level but get better and more specialized as time goes on, and you will be in a league of your own with hardly any competition. You will have a fulfilling and satisfying business and a good income.
I can't wait to introduce my clients to foot massage. I like the deep thumb press and roll (with leg bent extended to side). I feel like after several practices we feel comfortable with the foot massage technique that you rock from side to side pressing into mid sole and rest of foot.
I've just finished watching the 5th video (actually several times). At first doing leg warm ups using the butterfly technique I found it challenging to find that perfect touch but with practice I feel like I have found my artistic flow. I'm good with the squeezing and rolling up technique, at first I think I was squeezing too hard but with practice and feedback I have found a gentler touch that works (for Joleen anyway).
The perfect touch will be different for different clients or partners. Some need a velvet touch and some like it really strong. The art is to find the artistic flow, as you said, and then match it to what works for a particular client.
I am always stressing this in my courses since one of my most dreaded experiences is the one-size-fits-all massage which unfortunately is done quite a bit here in Thailand.
Video 6 -
Just finished a practice session after re-watching video 6. I am always quite surprised while practicing the elephant walking on the calf and foot at how much I like footwork. After practicing the forearm techniques on the thigh, I'm still trying to find my rhythm. It was much easier for me to perform these techniques than my partner because of her short waisted body.
The feedback from my partner is to work on my positioning of my body and her leg when working on the different parts of the thigh muscles.
Ok, until next time............
Well, the positioning can make or break a technique. However it's just one element of the "anatomy of a massage move" which I talk about throughout this course. Those are the ingredients which make Thai Massage feel good and that distinguish it from a mechanical repetition of the techniques.
Video 7 - leg stretch
The first time watching the video and practicing the techniques (mainly the footwalking on the ham string), my partners feedback was not 100% positive but this time when we watched/practiced, my partner really liked it. I'm beginning to overcome the awkwardness and becoming more comfortable with my moves and quality of touch.
I was having some trouble with my grip on the foot while doing the stretch with the foot and the foot walking. Was wondering, if maybe I could use some type of strap - have you seen this before?
I always get good feedback on the warm-up and I sometimes like to embellish with some of my own unique techniques. Feeling much more confident now that I'm going through the sessions 1 more time.
I think that using a strap would feel quite awkward for the client. I know that for this technique your hand has a tendency to slip. If your hand is strong and the bones at the base of the toes on the inside and outside of the foot are pronounced, then you can maintain a good grip. If the bones are not pronounced it is easy to slip off.
When I find that I don't get a good grip on the foot for whatever reason, I just skip this technique and use the one where you hook the client's foot under your leg (shown shortly after this one in the video). For this one you hardly need a hand grip at all.
Another alternative, especially when you work on large people with heavy legs, is to skip this technique and instead do foot walking or foot rocking on the hamstrings once you get to the prone position in your session. That doesn't require your hands at all.
Hi Shama - Thank you for your reply. I had another question from 7 though that I thought of - the stretch that you do where you interlock your hands with your client knee up, and squeeze and pull back at an angle - I was having a hard time getting a grip on my partners leg, I think because her legs are short. I adapted, and it worked but it required that I mostly just use muscle power instead of ergonomics - do you have any suggestions?
On Video 8 though - in tonight's practice I felt quite comfortable doing the 180 degree leg stretch and the calf techniques and the feedback was good too. My partner is quite flexible for this stretch, so it worked really well and she thought it was helpful.
When Joleen was practicing on me though, I can't go straight back at all - so apparently I am very tight in that part of the hip. She did the rocking and that was good - but I wondered if there were other stretches I could do too.
The technique from module 7 should not require any muscle power. You keep your arms straight and just lean back with your body weight. In order to get a good grip on your partner's thigh, you should squeeze your hands together, kind of generating a gentle vise grip on the thigh. If you slip off the leg, then make the angle of your partner's thigh steeper by moving her foot closer to her buttocks. The steeper the angle, the better leverage you get on the thigh.
It's quite normal that not everybody can handle every stretch well, or that one stretch works better for someone than another. That's why I always say that the techniques are not meant to be a fixed sequence but they are options to choose from. The art is to figure out what works best on which client, and that only comes with lots of practice.