I have already begun the Heavenly head massage course and have loved this introductory module that goes into the Thai Massage more in it's totality.
After experimentimg with some of the massage techniques I have noticed that my body can feel very uncomfortable and the massage can feel like a lot of work for me, so it's good to know that this should get easier and there are certain ways of working that help to support the body.
As I am primarily a yoga teacher I haven't thought to invest in a massage mat and had planned to give massage to clients on their yoga mats. Is this an appropriate mat to use for support? I understand Thai massage is less about using oil but I would like to use some for head and hand massage but I am worried about using massage oils next to people's yoga mats. Is there an idea that you might have to protect people's equipment? I can just ask for them to lie on a towel I'm sure but I thought I'd ask anyway.
I love how the massage is integrated with the movement of the breath, this makes a lot of sense to me and I'm really excited about learning this style of massage as it sounds very connected to the principles of yoga.
I realise the practice is an energetic practice, however, as a westerner I can't help but remain curious about the medical and anatomic process of Thai Massage.
Looking forward to learning more!
Foot Massage 1
1. Alternative out-bending of feet
The first technique was ok for my model, I didn't feel that she loved it, but she didn't dislike it either. The method felt fairly easy and comfortable for me to practice on her.
I tried this on a bed. I would otherwise be practicing this on a yoga mat opposed to a massage mat... Would these techniques of pressing down into floor be comfortable on a thin yoga mat opposed to a Thai massage mat?
2. Circular foot bending and twisting
My model didn't love this action, she felt I was twisting the foot too much. With the different hand positions it was painful when near to the toes.
The action for me was actually a lot easier than I expected and I didn't feel uncomfortable doing it so I'm not sure of it was my technique that wasn't right and led to the dissatisfaction or that it just wasn't enjoyed by my model, or I wasn't doing it right.
3. Bend both feet in at same time
Model felt like this action was twisting in at the knees, which is obviously a bit concerning, so she felt a bit unsure about that feeling. But the action felt ok in the feet. I'm wondering about the knees? Where is this move supposed to be felt and how do we keep the knees safe?
4. Bend both feet down and forward
Fine. Model felt I pushed too hard on the 'down' action as it hurt the top of her foot. I felt like I was putting a lot of body weight in it as in the videos is looks like a lot of bodyweight is applied in these movements?
5. Push, pull, rotate, technique for foot and leg
My model didn't like this at all, her ankles were clicking a lot. Pretty uncomfortable for her. She is pretty inflexible so I don't know if this is making a difference?
6. Twisting feet out one at a time
This was alright. Not much to say.
7. Finishing move of kneading the foot up and down, then shaking the foot up and down.
Both movements felt fine for my model. I found this movements a bit awkward, maybe in their simplicity, so I was surprised these movements felt better for my model than the other movement.
A yoga mat is not suitable for Thai Massage. It is not soft enough and not wide enough. Maybe if you put two yoga mats next to each other and then put two on top for double thickness it might work.
What would work better is to buy two good-quality exercise mats in a sporting goods store. Put them next to each other and connect them with velcro strips on the bottom. Exercise mats are thicker and softer than yoga mats. That's what I did in the beginning of my career and it worked fine.
If you just do a couple of techniques on a yoga student, a simple yoga mat will be fine. But for a real Thai Massage session it won't be fine. The reason is that you apply downward pressure with many techniques, i.e. you are pressing a body part into the floor. Without better support this will not feel good after a while.
Regarding the techniques - don't think of them so much as techniques. Think of them as gently coaxing the body to open. Think 'softness' when doing them and err on the side of gentleness. Make sure that your hands are soft and relaxed and not tight and hard. This is supposed to be a massage, not an exercise routine. Imagine working on a baby or puppy dog and then translate that feeling of softness and gentleness to your Thai Massage.
The power and the stronger techniques can come later. The real art is to do it softly and in a gentle manner. Nothing in this course is supposed to feel painful! It can feel strong, but never painful.
Anyway, all this will become abundantly clear while working through the program. In a few months you will look back at today and wonder how it could have felt so difficult!
Regarding the clicking ankles - some people have that, and on them this particular techniques really doesn't feel so good, and therefore should not be done. You will find that depending on your client, many techniques need to be modified and some should not be done. Again this will become much more clear when you go through the course. There will be many examples for such situations.