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Jo Difulvio's Complete Thai Massage Course notes
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Jo Difulvio
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April 22, 2016 - 8:00 am
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Module seven

Love the energy body. Thai is so so similar to Shiatsu where the focus is on energy/breath/expression. Evaluating the body before approaching and throughout. The body is so communicative and it’s so refreshing to see you taking the time to note it’s communication. I know that most trained body workers would say they follow these principles but my personal experience has been otherwise. Again, Thai like Shiatsu It is a combination of acupressure, asanas, stretching, palming, thumbing and gentle twisting. This helps in ushering back the balance in the body, deepens the connection between mind, body and spirit, in the giver and receiver. The leg stretches were so subtle yet so power-full. My partner was full of positive feedback working with this module. I of course weaved Shiatsu throughout and what a perfect union. They are meant to be integrated and I am honored to learn/share/explore the infinite possibilities.

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Shama Kern
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April 22, 2016 - 7:49 pm
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There is an empty post above. Was there something supposed to be in there?

You will soon notice that I included many rocking techniques in my style of Thai Massage. I got the original inspiration for this from my Zen Shiatsu teacher and I developed it from there on my own. I think most people would have a hard time telling Thai Massage and Shiatsu apart unless they are quite experienced with them.

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Jo Difulvio
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April 25, 2016 - 4:33 am
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I so agree with you! The differences are so subtle and unique to the practitioner facilitating the dance. Thai massage with be weaved into all my work and the feedback has been consistent with positive wouldn't have noticed any differences if you hadn't mentioned. I am forever changing/evolving/playing with my energy work and so far this one fits beautifully. Thank you.

As for the blank space above haven't figured out how to delete.

Smiles.

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Shama Kern
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April 25, 2016 - 9:23 pm
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I got rid of the empty post.

Yes, this seems to  be a perfect match for you. Can't wait to hear  what you will have to say about the Magic Touch bonus module where you really get to play with energy! 

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Jo Difulvio
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April 26, 2016 - 2:13 am
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Module eight

I am beginning to note the subtle differences with my training as a Shiatsu Practitioner and my training with Thai massage. Thai massage introduces far more stretches and techniques than I experienced in my Shiatsu training. Like Shiatsu,  every session is unique, but only being on module eight Thai is showing/teaching more techniques, stretches, and options to ensure that no two sessions are ever the same. Like Shiatsu, sessions flow and move where the needs and desires of the client, and the client's body, lead them. They both work with the bodies energy lines (meridians –sen), the practitioners use hands, forearms, knees and feet in their sessions and have a particular ability to both relax and energize the mind and the body. Unlike my Shiatsu training –Thai massage combines more yoga like movements (assisted yoga poses) along with ‘acupressure’ massage along energy meridians, energy work and meditation that I use and was trained in. Subtle differences where my clients may not notice but incredibly significant for me as this training will greatly enhance my work/life in so many ways.
Love the 'hip pie' what a practical/visual way to show the many variations to hip/stretches. I am so in love with this course/technique/training -excited to continue and enhance my skills.
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Thank you for helping with the delete!
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Shama Kern
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April 26, 2016 - 10:25 am
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That's correct, Thai Massage has a lot more techniques, especially stretches, than Shiatsu. That doesn't make it better than Shiatsu, but it certainly makes it very interesting since you can combine all those stretches in a myriad of creative ways and adjust and modify them to suit various body types and sizes. Thai Massage has more applied yoga elements than Shiatsu.

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Jo Difulvio
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April 29, 2016 - 2:52 am
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Module nine:

 

The Four Principles to Unify Body and Mind are the foundation of shin-shin-toitsu-do.

The principles are (a) to use the mind in a positive way;

(b) use the mind with full concentration;

(c) use the body naturally; and

(d) train the body gradually, systematically and continuously.

To use the mind in a positive way means to first examine yourself, then analyze your role in your environment and your relationship with others. Once you have started down this path of self-discovery, you can then live fully in the present. Love how you continually emphasize this Shama when giving a Thai/Shiatsu/energy work session.

To use the body naturally means to perform simple, graceful exercises that require no extra equipment, attempting to improve and perfect your physical and psychological well-being. Thai massage/Shiatsu is a beautiful metaphor for these principles.  

To train the body gradually, systematically and continuously is to avoid rushing too quickly, to be patient with the above processes as they slowly take a stronger hold in your everyday life.

On a physical level, Thai massage emphasizes proper posture for a dynamic balance of mind and body, then uses calming methods to relax your muscles before beginning simple stretches and like yoga light flexibility exercises.

The message in every module emphasizes the very principles of Shiatsu -I took this from my training all those years back:

Make use of body weight and not muscular strength; without utilizing any effort. Be calm and relaxed at all times. The weight of the body should be at right angles in relation to the receiver's body. The person's whole body should be moved when altering weight on to the receiver, maintaining the hara as the center. Any weight or pressure held should be for a short time only and both hands should be used equally. Maintain a regular pattern of movement while giving shiatsu. Always keep in physical contact with the receiver by keeping a hand on him or her throughout the therapy. Beautiful.

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Shama Kern
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April 29, 2016 - 3:32 pm
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What a beautiful way to express the essence of good massage, be it Shiatsu or Thai Massage. There is something about the oriental way of looking at bodywork which always fascinated me. I always found this more essential and related to the core of massage than the more mechanical way of looking at it which is more prevalent in the western model.

Well - I certainly won't have to worry if you understand the principles of Thai Massage! Smile

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Jo Difulvio
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May 1, 2016 - 6:41 pm
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Module ten:

Hara

Hara Shiatsu abdominal massage combines gentle pressure with the power of your breath to release emotional and physical blockages.

Emotions get “stuck” and we are unable to “digest” our thoughts and feelings Emotional trauma eventually manifests on a physical level affecting the healthy functioning of our internal organs.

Hara Shiatsu releases blocked emotions, detoxifies the internal organs, calms the mind and facilitates the self healing process creating harmony and balance within.

Taken from my studies with Shiatsu: “The abdomen plays a very important role in the health of a person. In Japan it is believed that a person’s abdomen reflects the person’s life, his/her health and strength. The abdomen, in Japan called “hara” is a focal point of many eastern arts - martial arts such as judo and karate, but also arts such as Ikebana or calligraphy. Shiatsu, a healing art, utilizes the hara to determine and treat the client’s condition. During the hara work, the area between the lower edges of the ribs and the upper edges of the pelvic bones is palpated and various techniques are used to release stagnation or increase vibrancy. The hara work increases the blood flow in the abdominal region and the organs it contains (stomach, spleen, liver, gallbladder, large and small intestines); stimulates peristalsis, and increases the overall health of the client.”

Every Shiastu session begin with the Hara to ‘check in’ with the body’s communication/energy center in order to find the most “kyo” and most “jitsu” meridians, and work on these together. “Kyo” refers to the meridian with the least amount of energy. And jitsu refers to the meridian with an excessive amount of energy. The goal to work on the diagnosed shiatsu meridians to achieve a state of balance. I will most often come back to the Hara several times in a one hour session.

The main purpose of the kyo and jitsu diagnose is the awareness of the relationship of meridians to each other. Meridians define each other. If a persons body is in a complete state of balance, no kyo or jitsu would be found. If one meridian becomes kyo or jitsu, it leads to imbalance in another meridian. The aim of shiatsu diagnosis is to assess the meridians in relation to each other to find the ‘match’, that when treated, will balance out.

The Hara was a big part of my Shiatsu training and we spent weeks discussing/practicing/assessing. I was so happy to see this as part of module ten and no doubt due to your experience/training/energy that you included.

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Shama Kern
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May 1, 2016 - 10:18 pm
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Interesting that you mention this. Actually the hara is never mentioned or used in Thai Massage. This has been my addition for my style of Thai Massage. When I was young, I did learn both Judo and Shotokan Karate and since then I had been aware of the importance of the hara. Later, when I studied Zen Shiatsu and Chi Nei Tsang, I could not even imagine to teach Thai Massage without the hara concept.

You will see later on in the course that I teach abdominal massage in module 15. I also have a separate course with an expanded version of abdominal massage.

Although I totally understand your enthusiasm about the Shiatsu-Thai Massage connection, don't forget to write something about your Thai Massage experience with the modules as well here in the forum, otherwise people will think that this is a course about Shiatsu! Laugh

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Jo Difulvio
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May 2, 2016 - 3:19 am
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I thought that you were responsible for mentioning/introducing the hara in this course as in my limited experience in Thai massage I never heard it mentioned/used. I also studied Shotokan - first degree black belt. We are aligned/connected in many ways.

I do apologize for not making the connection with my Thai practice for module ten. Your teachings are so similar to what I already work with that I sometimes get carried away. I naturally use the Hara in both giving and receiving and will continue to do so with Thai massage. Actually in my practices I incorporate both. My Thai practice/partner is used to my sessions and adding the Thai stretches/techniques just enhances each experience. The feedback is always very positive. I have also been using some of the stretches/techniques from Thai massage in my yoga classes with excellent results/feedback.

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Shama Kern
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May 2, 2016 - 9:50 am
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How interesting, we both studied Shotokan. Here is a little video which shows you my yoga and karate influence, and how I apply it to Thai Massage. You can download it by right clicking on the link like all course materials or watch it online by left clicking on the link:

Standing balance for Thai Massage therapists

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Jo Difulvio
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May 3, 2016 - 7:49 am
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Module eleven:

Gentle -smoothness -flowing- -rhythm of movements - the recipient's body is moved, loosened and stretched a beautiful healing art.

Nothing is hurried; there are no sudden changes of rhythm or speed. Every technique melts into the next; it looks like a beautifully choreographed performance.

As I watched this I could feel the relaxation melt away -you are definitely art in motion and I have no doubt the receiver was elated/relaxed/blessed after that session.

Delighted. Thank you for sharing the standing balance for Thai massage therapists. I did view that some time ago when I was first beginning the course. I love watching you in motion and you have a natural ability to teach/be.

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Shama Kern
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May 3, 2016 - 11:20 pm
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Thank you, and you have a natural ability to capture essential elements and put it into a beautifully descriptive language.

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Jo Difulvio
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May 6, 2016 - 5:25 am
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Module twelve:

So many hip stretches….so little time!

I see now why Thai massage is often referred to as "Yoga For the Lazy." Watching the hip stretch section, was paying witness to a yoga class facilitated by the practitioner.

A beautifully dynamic and interactive form of therapeutic massage that resembles more of a dance -in which the practitioner (principle dancer) -and the partner (client) perform a series of yoga poses. So divine to watch and I’m quite certain even more divine to receive/deliver.

I just love this section. So many variations of the hip stretch and yet all have varying affects and flexibility levels. I love how you show the different versions and how easy you can transition from one to the next. A dance/rhythm that relaxes the muscles, opens joints, encourages the flow of prana and allows the giver/receiver to move easily into stretches.

I love the elephant walking on the knees and my partner’s feedback with this was excellent. I also found sitting on the knees for a bigger body (as my partner is) was amazing not only for my partner but for myself!!

How fun!! I will use the stretches in this module often. Thank you.

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Jo Difulvio
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May 7, 2016 - 7:28 pm
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Module Twelve:

Practiced again and so love the double knee to chest in all versions. This appears to be a good one for sciatica have you experienced this with any client? Also, so love the gentle rocking/circles and the feedback with this is always so positive with relaxation/feel good.

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Shama Kern
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May 7, 2016 - 11:54 pm
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The stretch can be good for sciatica IF the condition is caused by piriformis syndrome, i.e. if the sciatic nerve is trapped or compressed by the piriformis muscle. If the condition is caused by a problem with the lower lumbar vertebrae, then this stretch will probably not help much and you need different techniques.

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Jo Difulvio
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May 8, 2016 - 4:10 am
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Excellent -thank you. I will inquire next time I am with this client.

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Jo Difulvio
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May 9, 2016 - 6:53 am
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Module thirteen:

Very nice summary of all the hip stretches and reminders to keep yourself in check: you're relaxed and have good energy before giving a session. Keep your breath flowing in sinc with the stretches -keep your focus on your client and take cues from body language/energy -work from the Hara.

I love the one-to-ten method as I use it in almost everything I do. This is a great way to keep the client in tune with their body and the bodies communication. In the west we are not taught how to 'listen' to the body and how to use the energetic system to release 'stagnation' that often cause 'dis-ease' -symptoms. Yoga is another great way to get the person connected to their body and teach them how to 'listen' and correct 'symptoms' before they become medical.   

And I loved that you addressed the 'pain' vs. discomfort when asking a client to measure results. The mind is powerful and words have meaning in the sub mind. I like to use 'neutral' terms when asking questions as to not 'suggest' something that may otherwise not be noted by the client. So important to remember in all aspects of life as our words become our thoughts and our thoughts eventually become our beliefs and the body reflects these beliefs.

I love your teaching style as it comes from the heart and flows out naturally/effortlessly/artfully. Beautiful summary of the legs/hips. Cool

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Shama Kern
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May 9, 2016 - 10:52 am
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I know that listening with your hands and working with the energetic system is generally not taught in the western world. Since I have spent almost my entire massage career in the eastern world, it is very hard for me to imagine how massage could be done without those elements. Smile 

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