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Jessica Falk's Complete Thai Massage Comments and Notes
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Jessica Falk
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March 4, 2016 - 10:21 am
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Module 1

Let me start by saying I am very impressed with the set up of these modules. I love how there is the important bullets in the corners of the importation being taught. Thank you Shama for this easy style. In the 1st module I love the emphasis on breath and your movements. especially as a yogi I connected right away to this concept. " Lean in breath out, Lean out breath in." 

I am a little concerned because I have been having some knee pain in my left knee as I look at the different positions of the therapist I have a slight anxiety about the comfort in my knee. It is a pain that has been coming and going for years. I hope that through the techniques given it won't become a problem. I really appreciate the adaptations and recommendation to help the comfort of the practitioner.

"Creating a Symphony."

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Jessica Falk
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March 4, 2016 - 10:30 am
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Module 2 

I love the word ergonomics, and it is the truth when proffering bodywork. 

I always say in my prana flow yoga classes, find the flow, it seems to be related to the work here in Thai massage. Its really a beautiful way to think about connecting and working on someone else body and with their energy. 

The first application of Chi Machine. My first impression was that it seems like a strange way to start a massage session. I am very interested in the future to put together a full massage and receive feedback on the beginning action of Chi machine. My mother is visiting so she has been my partner/client. the first night I tried this in the living room with my 2yr old son in the room, my husband and my mom. I begin on my husband and it was so cool to see when i got the shaking form the hips down his whole body moving. y 2yr old son was next and he couldn't get enough of it. Then it was my moms turn and the first round I did it for probably 40 sec. (it was a little tiring) she said that she loved it and wanted it fr more time!!! good signs I would say! 

I need to work on the ergonomics so that I don't burn out on the first move. Any suggests for technique?

question. A friend of mine does Thai massage in the states, She says you can't call it thai massage but need to call it Thai Bodywork for legal issue. Have you ever come across this before. She says because a Massage therapist in the states has to pass state exams and lots of schooling and that if you use the work bodywork it don't refer to massage.

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Jessica Falk
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March 4, 2016 - 10:36 am
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Module 3

Just on the 3rd module the 2nd with technique and its a little daunting to see how Shama moves his body, hands and uses pressure all at the same time. I am realizing the most important aspect of this course is practicing! for me I have my partner but its also important to practice  on other bodys because it really give you a better sense of what its going to be like to have clients of all different sizes.

I took me a day  or two to actually try and apply the foot massage techniques. Once I did they weren't as hard and I thought the were going to be in my head. Starting using some of these techniques only yoga students as the lay in shivanasana.

I asked a thai bodywork friend if she starts with the feet in her sessions, as Shama referred to in this video. She said she didn't because it relaxes them to muuch in the beginning. I like the idea of extra relaxing in the beginning and the idea of a strong first impression. It is a practice in thai you have to start with the feet or do some practitioners start with the head. My friend said she starts her clients sitting. thoughts?

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Shama
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March 4, 2016 - 1:27 pm
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Hi Jessica, welcome to the Complete Thai Massage course. It looks like you have it all figured out, but for completeness sake I always post a link to our certification check list in the beginning of all certification threads, so you can review it quickly:

Certification Check List

Did you watch the support video #1 which arrived after course module 2 which shows you exercises for your knees? That might be helpful for you.

It seems your first impressions about the strangeness of the Chi Machine was overturned by your practice partners. Smile

If you are a licensed massage therapist in the US you can certainly call it Thai Massage and be completely legal. If however you use it as part of yoga teaching classes, for example, and you do not have a massage license, then you cannot say that you are practicing Thai Massage, and you should refer to it as Thai Yoga, Thai bodywork, or Thai Yoga therapy or something along those lines.

These are general suggestions. The fact is that in the US every state has their own laws about massage therapy, licensing, and maybe even yoga teaching. I am not familiar with all those laws in the 50 states, so I cannot give you a really specific answer, especially since I don't know which state your friend is talking about. The only thing I can say with certainty is that licensed massage therapists can definitely state that they practice Thai Massage.

Regarding how to start a session: Your friend's argument that starting a Thai Massage session with the feet is too relaxing doesn't make any sense to me. How can massage ever be too relaxing? 

There are some practitioners who do Thai Massage like a stretch-workout-session. This is not my style and this is not what I teach. Thai Massage is a massage, not a high intensity workout where you have to avoid "too much relaxation". The more relaxation the better. The state where the body does most of its healing is the sleep state which happens to be the most relaxed state you can be in. That's why most yoga sessions end with Savasana, the corpse pose.

Personally I love the feeling of drifting off into this highly relaxed state between waking and sleeping states during a Thai Massage session. Therapy work is not more effective if you do it more strongly or more intensely. It is more effective if you are more intuitive, more perceptive, and more tuned into your client energetically. You will learn how to do all this throughout this course. This approach ties in perfectly with the original intention of yoga, to connect or bridge our physical awareness to a higher awareness.

Just like in yoga, the goal is not how to be most flexible, but how to develop a more refined state of consciousness or being, and in Thai Massage, the goal is not how to do the most stretches, but how to re-establish energy flow in the body to improve the body's innate healing capabilities. 

Regarding where to start a session: Here in Thailand almost all Thai Massage sessions start with the feet. I know a couple of schools which do not start with the feet. One is TMC here in Chaing Mai, and the other one is the Lotuspalm school in Montreal. But the vast majority of schools and practitioners, like 99% here in Thailand do start with the feet.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with starting elsewhere. However I like to start with the feet and work my way up the body. This feels best to me, and I guess that's why it is by far the most popular way to do it.

I don't recommend starting with the sitting position. Actually I don't use the sitting position much at all. There are several reasons for that. 

1. Most westerners cannot sit comfortably with legs crossed and a straight back. Unless the therapist always supports the back,  the sitting position can be a strain for clients when their back is collapsing on them. The sitting position is the most uncomfortable position in Thai Massage and the least relaxing for the client. I use it mostly for specific therapeutic purposes which can be done best in this position.

2. The first impression in a session is what sets the tone. Starting with the sitting position tells a client that this is a workout session, not a relaxing massage. This is not the impression I want to give. Most typical massage clients like the relaxing aspect of massage.

3. Starting with the sitting position is a little like asking someone out for a date and proposing marriage after 5 minutes. Smile I think it is much better to start out gently, and then later gradually build up to stretching. This topic ties into the often repeated misconception that Thai Massage is just a sequence of stretches. This is inaccurate. You can do a wonderfully relaxing and healing Thai Massage session with zero stretches, if you wanted to.

I am aware that not everyone will agree with me on this, like your Thai bodywork friend. We all have our own styles, and that's okay. I am just stating what works best for me, and what has been working well for many hundreds of my students for the last 15 years. 

There is a difference between working on non-yogi clients and yogis. Naturally the yogi types can handle stretches much more easily and will appreciate them more. They can also sit cross legged with a straight back much more easily. 

If you work on non-yogi clients, you have to be much more gentle, gradual and careful with Thai Massage. So you might use a different style or approach of Thai Massage on yogis and non-yogis. It depends on what you want to accomplish. Do you want to give your yoga students a passive yoga workout experience, kind of like assisted yoga, or do you want them to experience a more relaxing, healing session? You will learn how to do both in this course, and then you can develop your own style which you can tailor towards the kind of client you mostly work with.

In my style of Thai Massage there cannot be too much relaxation. Smile

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Jessica Falk
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March 8, 2016 - 9:46 am
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Module 4
Thank you Shama for your response.
Actually my friend studied at Lotus Palm in Montreal so it makes sense. Do you know what their reason is for not starting with the feet?
I really really appreciated in this video how you reviewed the techniques from the last video. I have a very concrete way of thinking about it now in my mind. Combining the ways the feet move with the techniques. It is very clear now to me.
I am a little confused on the new techniques that you showed. Should we integrate them into the foot massage before the end? at the end of the last module you showed us how to end the foot portion of the massage, so the new tech. were more options to add into or do you recommend doing them at the end?
Also I know you sent me the info on how to down load the videos but can you resend me the link?
Thank you

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Shama
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March 9, 2016 - 12:05 am
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I don't know what their reason is for not starting with the feet, and I was never really interested in finding out, I have to admit. It goes against my grain or my feelings about Thai Massage to start in the sitting position, so for me it was always clear that I prefer to start with the feet as is traditionally done here in Thailand.

I have watched some Lotus Palm videos, and they seem to use a more vigorous, faster style. I prefer a slower, more meditative style of Thai Massage.

Regarding the foot techniques, you  can use as many or as few of them as you want. In general the techniques taught in this course are not fixed mandatory sequences, but options to choose from. I am not a believer in using a rigorous fixed sequence of techniques. This is a good way to initially learn the techniques, but once you know them you are better off being creative, intuitive, listening with your hands, and developing your sessions according to the needs of a particular client.

Also a few modules down the road there is a summary video which shows you how to put it all together. That will be helpful in giving you the "bigger picture".

You can find the download tutorial here:

Download Tutorial

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Jessica Falk
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March 9, 2016 - 9:23 am
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Module 5

Great point to start this module with that you shouldn't stretch until the muscle is warmed up. In yoga we talk about this all the time, and I lead a long warm up series leading into the major  stretching but i never thought to apply it to thai massage. 

Do you think that going up and down the same thai energy level could or would get repetitive to the client? 

Can you or do you later on explain the thai energy body lines? I am very interested in these and would like to have a map to the energy lines to better understand them .

I have started incoorperating more and  more of these techniques into my relaxation, Shivanasna in my yoga classes. The students are loving it!
thank you

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Shama
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March 9, 2016 - 11:24 pm
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Nothing will ever feel repetitive to a client if it is done with sensitivity and feeling. If however something is done in a mechanical fashion, it will feel repetitive very quickly.

Yes, there is information about energy lines coming up in the course, plus I am working on a whole new module which will be all about working energy lines. Once it is ready I will add it to the course. 

The Complete Thai Massage course is constantly growing - it has been updated and improved many times over the years. 

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Jessica Falk
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March 15, 2016 - 5:16 am
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Module 6

I have to keep remembering to post. I get carried away watching then trying to practice and the next thing I know I have forgotten to post. 

Module6 i was so excited to start working with my forearm. It has been some great massages that I have received that the forearm feels amazing. 

I really appreciated the idea of the 5 lines on the quad. It helped me visulize the muscle as I was working on my partner. Through this technique I was able to ensure the whole muscle was being activated. 

I got a little stuck moving my body and trying to stablize the leg with my foot. 

I am starting to get what Shama keeps sayig through the videos, follow and listen to your body, and the clients. I have adapted a little and am finding what works for me and my body on my partner with the idea that it might be different on a different body.

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March 16, 2016 - 12:06 am
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You touched on a very important point - many techniques will feel very different on various body types. Some techniques cannot be done on certain clients at all. Some take too much energy if the client is very big. Some are overkill for small and light clients. Some are too intense for stiff people,  etc.

That's why I recommend practicing on as many people as you can get your hands on.

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