I watched all the instruction on how to do a forum post, and wouldn't you know it, I messed up and lost my first post! 🙂 So, I'm recreating it now ... and hopefully I'll get it right this time.
An apology in advance -- I have received the first FIVE modules and am working through them. But, I just registered today for the CEU's, so I'll post my five module notes in relatively quick fashion, but please know that I've been working on them and now that I'm in the forum and have registered, I'll be posting in a more timely, regular, fashion.
I have reviewed Module 1, and practiced the different positions. I'm both a massage therapist and a Yoga instructor, so the different body positions were comfortable for me. I already know that in a full kneeling position, I tend to have a low-blood pressure reaction if I'm kneeling for more than a few minutes, so I know that I will just slip to half-kneeling whenever I need a small movement for my own comfort.
I appreciate how Thai Massage emphasizes the importance of breath work!
And, I also appreciate how you compared massage to music -- knowing musical notes is important but weaving them together is what makes music!
I love, love, love the Chi Machine.
In what can only be serendipity, the two women, Carol and Barbara, who were my practice partners when I became a massage therapist 15 years ago have recently moved back here ... they were both delighted to be my practice partners again as I learned this lovely movement.
I had to watch your demonstration a couple times, and I focused on their hips to ensure that I was sending the wave up the body. (I later told Carol that I started looking for her nose to wiggle!)
Barbara thought it felt nice, but Carol really felt the energy movement without me even mentioning it. Both felt the tingling, but I think Carol felt it more strongly (probably because I was getting better with it the more I practiced).
I have continued to slip the Chi Machine in with all of the practice partners who are helping me and many of them really enjoy that tingling energetic movement.
I know that you recommended doing this for 1-2 minutes, but I'm not sure how long I practiced on each client as I wasn't timing it, but now that I think about it, I might try to do it a little bit longer.
Thank you for this lesson ... just wonderful! ~ Jackie
I asked Sandy, one of my long-time Yoga students, to be my practice partner as I learned this part of the foot protocol. (I have a group of my Yoga students who arrive for their class 45 minutes early each week ... they like to socialize a bit before class, but this is a great way for me to let each one have a chance to help me with this course.)
I've known Sandy for more than a decade, so I knew she would be honest and helpful with her feedback.
We practiced on her Yoga mat.
I know that it's important to "feel" the practice rather than get bogged down in technique, but I'll be honest -- I watched the video twice, read the transcript, and then wrote up my own little "cheat sheet" to make sure I practiced everything! I know that as I become more comfortable with the work, I'll let the practice evolve rather than follow my "cheat sheet," but for now, as I'm learning, it is helping me ensure I'm trying everything at least once, and making sure I have the right positioning for myself as I learn.
I've been practicing the foot work for a week now and I still don't have the rhythm of the circling motion down ... but I know that once I "get" the feel of it, it will be a special thing, so I'm still trying! I may be trying too hard. Although Sandy didn't notice I was having trouble with it and thought it felt ok as I was doing it.
Her favorite part-- as I lifted her leg and did the foot twist ... she thought that part was wonderful. (She also assured all of her Yoga classmates that they should volunteer to be a practice partner as it was a nice way to ease in to class that day!)
(With this progress report, I'm now "caught up" with my practice notes. From here on, I'll be posting in a regular, timely way. Again, my apologies ... it took me a couple weeks to get my routine down.)
I was fortunate to have twins as my practice partners as I built on the foot protocol in this module. Elaine and Elizabeth have been friends of ours for years, and we were visiting them this past weekend.
Both have done Yoga and receive regular table-based massage. They both enjoyed the relaxing aspect of having their feet massaged. (I again used a cheat sheet that I wrote up to make sure I practiced everything you have shown us.)
I'm still figuring out the circling movement, but the other parts are beginning to flow together. Both Elaine and Elizabeth gave good feedback ... especially when I was checking in to make sure I wasn't pushing or leaning in too deeply. (They assured me I was ok.)
Elaine's grandson Teddy was visiting for one night. He's 7 and he asked for a foot massage that evening. I wasn't sure he would "settle down" for one, but I said ok. He immediately quieted and said he liked it. He was very interested as to why this was done on the floor, why I only knew the foot part, and if it was Yoga (he's learning Yoga in school). Afterwards, we were sure the foot massage would quiet Teddy for his bedtime, but it had the opposite effect. When we were done, he was flying around the room and was even more active than before! That was a good reminder that energy works differently on each of us! 🙂
Teddy did say that I should tell you that he thought I did a "pretty good job", and that I should give him a call when I finally learn how to do the back, because the back is "important." I promised him that I would tell you that.
Hi Jackie, welcome to our forum community and the Complete Thai Massage course. I always love having therapists in here who also teach yoga. First it is much easier for them to get around on a floor mat, and second they generally have plenty willing practice partners among their students. And third, it is easy for them to relate to some of the principles of Thai Massage which are more related to yoga than to western massage, as you will find out.
This was a real posting marathon, and you did everything exactly right. But still, as a matter of protocol, I always post a link to our certification check list at the beginning of each thread to make sure that you have a quick and easy reference, and that we are on the same wave length. So here it is:
I am glad you liked the Chi Machine. Did you know that this is not normally part of traditional Thai Massage in Thailand? I added it in because it is such a good fit, and everyone loves it.
The circular foot movement is also something unique. It was only taught by one single teacher here in Thailand who has passed away since. He was one of the most unique teachers here and was quite famous. Try to do this movement in a playful way, and not in a technical way. Try to let it flow instead of "trying to get it".
It shows me for how long I have been practicing and teaching Thai Massage since several of my original teachers have passed away since.
Interesting story about Teddy! He seems to be quite aware or tuned in. I didn't know that yoga is being taught in regular schools nowadays.
Regarding losing your first post, it is a good habit to do a quick Control A to highlight the post, followed by a Control C to put it into your computer's memory. (That's how you would do it on a PC). In this way, if disaster strikes, you can just paste it back in.
I have completed Module 5 ... and practiced it with Dotty, a longtime Yoga student who came to class early this week.
She was nursing a migraine, but she thought that bodywork -- of any kind -- would help her relax before class. I began very gently with Chi Machine ... but was ready to stop if she thought the movement was aggravating her headache (which has been known to happen). She was a-ok and though the movement didn't alleviate the headache, she thought it felt especially good and beneficial.
I did some of the foot techniques on her and was going to stop because of her headache, but she said she was enjoying the work, so I continued into the leg warm-up. She is older, but very flexible and moving her leg into a 90 degree angle (what I call "open tree" on my "cheat sheet") was easy. I find that transitioning and moving the leg from point A to point B is what I need to concentrate on. The kneading, thumb-rolling, and butterfly presses are techniques that I have used in bodywork, so I find that I need to concentrate on the transition -- moving my client's leg open or sliding myself into an appropriate position is what I have to continue to work on.
I have also been adapting some of your foot and leg warm-up techniques into my table work with my massage clients ... just to remind myself of them and so they start to come naturally and effortlessly.
I have several Yoga students and I know that each one wants to be a practice partner, so I'll try to include each of them during this course. Many of them have been Yoga students and massage clients of mine for 15 years, and I think they especially enjoy playing a part by supporting me in my learning process. They are also honest and are more than happy to tell me what I need to improve. 🙂
I'm still just working with them on simple Yoga mats. I have watched your video on creating a good Thai massage mat and will watch that one again as I put one together. It has only been a couple weeks, but I'm grateful for all you have taught me already. Thank you!
Several years ago I worked my arms and hands too much (as young, inexperience therapists often do) and I wound up with tendinitis in both elbows. It was a blessing in disguise, because it forced me to really focus on proper ergonomics and it taught me how my forearm could be a wonderful tool. (And, more than a decade later ... no tendinitis since.) So, I loved this module that helps me build even more on my forearm work.
I again asked my Yoga student Dotty to help out, as she arrived early to class. I'm still getting the hang of positioning the client's body in a way that is fluid and doesn't stop the flow of the work. I'll figure it out eventually ... and I know that it will come more naturally. Already I can tell I'm getting a bit more confident in moving my client's leg from here to there.
The initial leg rocking was neat, because it's different from the way I do it on the table. I move both hands together in the same direction to get the rhythm. I like how your method has one hand pushing with the palm and the other pulling back with the fingers ... it's the same idea, but a different feel for me. It's always good to learn different ways to do a technique, and especially when it requires my brain to unwind the habit of how I've always done it!
The IT work was great and yes (I'll admit it) I went in initially and pushed with my elbow rather than lean in as you showed. Dotty felt the change in my pressure and energy, too. So, I started again and did it properly. Just habit, I guess. But, I am leaning in from now on!
And, I loved the "Elephant Walking" on the calf (and the visual that its name evokes). I did one lighter round where I leaned more lightly -- I called it "Cat Walking" -- and then Dotty said I could lean more and that was the "Elephant Walking". 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
I learned a lot of what I know now the hard way, just like you. In the early stages of my Thai Massage career I overused my thumbs and ended up with a nasty thumb joint inflammation which took a long time to heal.
The silver lining was that this is what taught me a lot about sensitivity, alternative ways of working, and it was the reason why I developed the Thai Rocking Massage system and my Hands Free Massage course.
Module 7 has made me a very popular Yoga instructor! I loved, loved, loved every bit of this lesson and I especially loved having the opportunity to practice on not one, but three, Yoga students!
Sandy (who was an earlier practice partner) came early to class yesterday and I went through all of Module 7 on both legs. I did a hip evaluation (she was very even) and a quick warmup for her legs. She loved the stretching as I held her foot and pressed on her inner thigh/hamstrings with one foot (and then "walked" using both feet). And, I loved doing it. It felt very natural for me (which surprised me). She also said she loved when I had her knee upright and did the squeeze and lean back. (I did it both ways, leaning back and then the circling around modification.)
I also practiced the Module on two other students -- Margaret and Mark. They both found it very nice and relaxing. And, both liked the knee squeeze and traction best of all (the last stretch in the module that you taught).
The one thing that surprised me was that all three of them are longtime Yoga practitioners who are very flexible, yet for each person I opted to put a pillow under their bent knee leg to give it a prop. (And, all three said they preferred to have that cushion under their leg.) I think it's a good reminder that for many people over age 50 (which they all are), sometimes a little extra cushion or prop is a-ok even when you don't think they need it.
I also am starting to feel more comfortable with positioning ... and have adapted a few of the positionings to compensate for my height vs the height (or leg length) of my practice partner!
Thank you for this lesson ... I had so much fun practicing it (and my practice partners were so happy afterward!) 🙂
This is awesome! Tonight I worked with two very different Yoga students.
First, I worked on Joan, a very quiet, active woman who I know to be very flexible. I did a brief warm-up and then the calf and knee work and then the hip stretch. She was delighted and said more than once as I was doing that wonderful hip stretch you taught in this module, "This feels so good to have someone doing the stretching for me." She also said she really like the knee work, which sort of surprised me (the back-and-forth more than the circular motions).
Then, before my second class, Abigail volunteered for the hip stretch. I know that her right PSOAS and hip is chronically tight. As I was doing the stretch on her, she said, "Well, it feels good, but it's not doing anything." (She is traditionally one of my more skeptical students.) When I finished, she stood up and said, "Wow! It does feel looser." I rarely get that kind of validation from her, and I was surprised that the stretch had that profound an effect on her chronically tight hip.
Not only are my practice partners enjoying the work, I'm LOVING the ability to move and lean in and stretch as I'm working. It feels almost like a dance to me ... not only is it a healthful thing to receive, but I really think that doing Thai massage is equally healthful for the therapist! Thank you for all you are teaching me! 🙂
I had space in my schedule this morning so that I could work with my friend Michelle (also a flexible Yoga person). She let me to work slowly through all the leg work options through Module 9 and Module 10. (I'm just reporting on Module 9 here, as I want to practice some more with a few other people before I give my notes on Module 10.) I'm still working on transitioning from place to place, stretch to stretch, and I know that work is not as fluid and smooth as I would like it. (I still carry a cheat sheet with me to ensure I cover a little bit of everything as I'm learning and I still have to stop and reposition myself when I mess up.)
Michelle was on a strenuous bike ride yesterday, so her calves and hamstrings were sore. This was the perfect opportunity for me! I focused on the full "hip pie" stretch, the adductor stretch (she is very flexible, so I was able to do the deeper stretch by leaning into her adductor as I pressed her opposite thigh). I did the hamstring stretch (but I didn't quite get the modification of leaning the knee into the thigh. I didn't feel I was doing it properly, so I need to practice that a lot more). And, I didn't quite get the calf stretch right (from Module 10), but she still felt a nice stretch as I did it.
The twist was easy because she is very supple in her back and can go deeply into a twist. This allowed me to ease her in and I encouraged her to let me do the work. She enjoyed the work and felt much looser afterward. We transitioned into her regular table massage and she noted that she was much more relaxed in the session than usual, which I attribute to beginning the session with that bit of Thai massage.
It is quite normal that you don't fully "get it" the first time around. What I have heard from many students is that when they re-watch the videos, they often pick up on things that they had missed previously.
Regarding the knee-on-hamstring modification - basically the knee is replacing the hand. The effect is that you have more power because your body is more upright, and you can use two hands instead of one. The tricky part is to find the right place for your knee. If it is too low, you lose leverage and the stretch won't work. If it is too much in the center of the hamstrings, your ergonomics will feel weird. So you need to try a few knee placements until you feel that the stretch works best.
This is the power version of this stretch, and you will probably not need this very often, unless you work on someone who is much larger and heavier than you are. However on such people this can make the difference between straining and working effortlessly.
Yes, I am rewatching the videos and that is helping ground me! I’ve recovered (I think) from my disappointing Module 9 … where I tried to do too much, remember everything, and try it all.
(Sometimes failure is a helpful lesson.)
As I tried to do the techniques and learn them – and feeling, I’ll admit overwhelmed -- I did EXACTLY what you tell us not to do. I got so wrapped up in the techniques that I lost the flow …I lost my heart.
So, I failed. I was disappointed in my flow and how it felt. And, I know it was because I was trying too hard to learn everything and do it all “just so.”
So, trying again with Module 10, I scaled back my work and looked for my heart.
Mihye is one of my Yoga students (English is not her first language but we communicate well together regardless). I worked slowly through the twist and adductor work you taught in Module 10, but I didn’t try to do too much. Mihye is also very flexible so that allowed me to lean in a bit more which felt right.
That made a difference. Mihye thought the work felt good and I felt more connected.
Some of it still lacks the flow, and sometimes I find myself lunging on the wrong leg or holding the leg with the wrong hand, but eventually I start to figure it out and try to gracefully reposition myself.
You talked about how people can “hold” and that was very helpful, because I found that especially when I was trying out the calf stretch – it happened on a couple different people – they would try to help move their foot as I was leaning in. Your reminder came at just the right time! They may have been “helping” because they could feel me trying to adjust my hand under their heel. I still haven’t got that movement quite right.
As if by magic, only 4 people came to my late Yoga class last night – all longtime students. When classes are small like that I have more time to play and really create a personal practice for them. As we were in the middle of practice and they were lying on their backs I asked them if they wanted to “do” a twist or if they would like me to come by and move them to a twist. It was unanimous and I had the opportunity in the middle of class – where I was already mindful and in the flow of the session – to come by to each one and practice the twist, including the deeper modifications. It was nice to work on four very different Yoga bodies. It made me more aware of how I could reposition myself for a tall/larger person vs. a tiny person and how I could easily adjust for a more supple body. I really am grateful that my students and clients are so willing to be my helpers!
I had a tough week feeling overwhelmed during the last module, but now I think I’m back on track … taking things in small bites and not trying to learn it all overnight and remembering that it is about energy rather than technique. Thank you!
It seems like you had been putting too much pressure on yourself. You would be the "Mozart of Thai Massage" if you would get it right the first time around. It is much more fun if you learn it by "playing with it". If it doesn't work out well today, it might tomorrow or next week or next month.
Many course students report that towards the tail end of the course it all starts to flow for them. But that is after several months of regular practice. Thai Massage is an amazing, effective and rewarding system, but it is also rather complex, and it does take time to learn.
In Swedish massage you can somewhat 'fake it'. If you know a few decent strokes, you can make someone feel good. This doesn't work in Thai Massage. Unless you really know all those many techniques and stretches well, it won't feel right (or worse).
The silver lining of the story is that once you are a really good Thai Massage therapist, you will never have much competition. Few people go through the trouble of really learning this healing art inside out. They take one or a few quick courses and then imagine that they know it.
This is so evident here in Thailand where you see signs everywhere of 1 or 3 or 5 day courses. This is just good for a taste, but not for learning the entire system. Once you go through this entire course, you will be way ahead of most Thai Massage therapists.
Thank you for the good advice and support. Your summary module was very helpful -- to see how everything knits together and your continuing reminder to not worry if you forget something, that it's more about the flow.
I sometimes tell my massage clients that I try to listen to my fingers rather than letting my brain get in the way (since my brain sometimes anticipates or acts on past experience, which may not be the right thing). When I do that, I think I'm a better therapist.
That's my goal in this next section -- to not let my brain (and the desire to do "everything") get in the way of my heart. And, also to try to transition more gracefully so that I can feel the "dance" of the practice.
That said, I'm continuing to practice on willing students and friends with my "cheat sheets" ... I figure the more I practice each technique in small bite-sized pieces, the more it will become "second nature" and it will come out during a session when I need it and the more things will start to flow more instinctively.
I always listen more to my fingers and my intuition than my brain.
In the beginning you just have to accept that it may sometimes feel a bit like stumbling along, but this is normal and will resolve itself the longer you practice. You can just picture in your mind that one day not too far in the future it will all flow gracefully and easily without having to think about it anymore.
My latest discoveries …
I am average height, 5’6”, but I sometimes find I gravitate toward the alignment you provide for short therapists working on tall clients. Those alignments sometimes “fit” me better, depending on the client, and it’s been so helpful to have you offer so many options, so I can try them out and see what feels best for me.
The blessing of having so many supportive Yoga students is that I am never lacking for willing practice partners. But … while they are all different shapes and sizes, they all tend to be supple and flexible. (I found they all enjoyed the deeper hip stretch you taught in this module). I’m now reaching out a little more widely to practice with people who might be a little tighter, just so I get the “feel” for less flexible clients.
I still am working mindfully at the “transitions” from one stretch to another. I have caught myself occasionally standing up, rather than flowing from one to the next. Oops! The good news is that I’m catching myself right away as I stand up, so that I can take a deep breath, and start over and focus on flowing from one move to the next.
The sacrum massage is beautiful! 🙂