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Joleen's Thai Massage Class Journal
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Joleen
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January 3, 2014 - 10:19 am
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Hello! This is my first entry in my forum journal, however I already feel like an old soul with Shama and his video courses. I have been working with my partner Greg Belcher from the very first course (we also watched all the free mini courses).

We have had some really great practice sessions although some of them have not been without some hilarious moments. You have to admit, crawling all over people and stretching them and pulling on them can set up some pretty funny situations as you are learning.

 

Greg and are are currently getting ready to start Course 17. We just watch the video on shoulder work, which we both loved when we tried. There were two of the techniques that were a little awkward for me, but I just want to try again to see if it feels more comfortable. And weirdly enough, Greg seemed to be very sensitive in that “soft spot” area and indicated that I shouldn’t press very hard when I was doing elephant walks or other pressing techniques. I on the other hand loved the pressure and thought it felt sooo good.  

We kind of struggled through the leg stretch video courses. I am hoping that with continued practice these will feel more comfortable for me as the practitioner. I am quite short and a little heavy through the mid-line, so anything that requires leaning over or working up on the knee is a challenge. I am trying the alternate methods you provide, and on a couple of technique this helps (like for the hamstring stretch by placing the entire leg over my shoulder). 

 

We definitely have our favorites as the massage receiver!! I personally love, love, love, the leg compression and contraction. I don’t know why but it just feels so get to have my leg pulled (uh-oh – I might have just set myself up for a little joke). Anyway, Greg and I both loved all the foot work too, but I think we both feel the leg stretches are awkward for us to execute as the practitioner. We both agree we need to practice, practice, practice!!! 

I know we are going to really click alot better with the upper body and head and neck work. This is what we are really looking forward to. But we are going to be good students and learn it all so that we can be good practitioners for our clients. 

 

Looking forward to moving on! Thanks – Joleen

 

 

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January 4, 2014 - 1:11 am
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Glad to meet you here again Joleen. I also feel like an “old soul” with you after we had quite a bit of communication previously!  Smile

You are in a great situation since you have a good dedicated and committed practice partner. I have just one piece of advice. Whenever possible try to also work on someone else just to feel the difference. You will find out that what works on one person does not work on someone else, and what feels difficult for you on one person, is much easier to do on someone else and vice versa.

Another thing is that not all techniques will work on everyone anyway. So working on more than one person will teach you to creatively choose your techniques and develop your feeling for various body sizes and weights.

So my suggestion is that you and Greg work with each other as primary practice partners, and as soon as you feel a little more comfortable, try to find some other volunteers also. It can be amazing how different it can feel to work on someone who has quite a different body type or weight.

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January 5, 2014 - 11:13 am
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Hello! We just finished video lesson 17 on arms and hands. Really enjoyed this lesson and feel strongly that these techniques are one’s that we be high on our list when we work on our routines for others. 

You are right about hand massages. You never really would think that it would feel good until you get one! So relaxing and soothing. 

Great lesson! Thanks – Joleen

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January 7, 2014 - 12:16 am
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There is something about working on the extremities like hands and feet. But here is another one which comes as quite a surprise to many people. Doing a good ear massage also feels incredibly good. I teach that in my Heavenly Head Massage course, and many people were amazed at the positive reactions they got from the ear massage section.

Those three areas, ears, hands and feet, all have something in common. They contain many acupuncture points which affect all areas in the body by working on just one small area. Actually there is a fourth area which also has that characteristic, and that is the abdomen.

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February 5, 2014 - 11:37 am
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Good Evening Shama – 

Well we (Greg and I) have now finished all the prone position videos and are starting on the side positions. I have really enjoyed the techniques specific to the back and shoulders, plus for me personally, they are pretty comfortable to do. 

 

I am pretty short and a little overweight, so I was having a hard time performing some of the leg exercises or even shoulder exercises that require me to bend over and lift, I think because my torso is so short. However, there are several that I can do easily and I think they are some of the better ones that feel good. I’m not too worried about not having enough technique to perform a good 1 hour session with clients without having to perform techniques that are awkward for me. 

 

As you may have read in Greg’s forum, today we had a snowstorm in our city and we got snowed in. We spent most of the day today, reviewing videos and practicing. As we go forward, we are becoming more and more comfortable and we are beginning to put together a list of our favorite techniques. 

Have a great week! 

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February 5, 2014 - 11:43 pm
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I am sure you have heard me say that before – all the techniques are options to choose from, not mandatory sequences.  You just do what you can easily do, and if something doesn’t work well for you, just skip it. It is much better to do fewer techniques very well than struggling with the implementation of all of them. Anyway you can easily do a one hour session with a fraction of the techniques in this course.

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March 5, 2014 - 2:44 am
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You are right Shama – 

We are continuing to practice and are now reviewing the entire series of videos over again. 

While we are watching we are making careful notes on the techniques we like and those that we feel confident with, and with those we like but know we need more practice on, and those we are a little sketchy about. 

There is plenty to offer just in the ones we like and already feel confident about. I mean when you think about it you could spend 1/2 hour or so just one someone’s feet and hands, which is exactly what I intend to do. 

I have a question for you. On your Heavenly Head massage, do you do any work on the face? We do a bit of face massage in my QiGong classes and I can’t get enough of it. If you do include the face, what kind of feedback to you get from clients. I know some people do like to have their face touched? 

I think once we feel we have the techniques down that we like enough to be able to start really working with others, we will probably purchase a few of your other classes (like the Heavenly Head) and I am also interested in your sciatica class and neck and shoulders. First things first though! Cool

 

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March 5, 2014 - 11:42 am
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The Heavenly Head Massage course is divided into 4 sections, each about 15 minutes long in a one hour HHM session: upper chest and shoulders, neck, head, and face.

However, just like you mentioned about working 1/2 an hour on someone’s feet or hands, you can easily do the same thing with the HHM course. I have done 1/2 hour or even 1 hour neck sessions, or 1/2 hour or longer face sessions many times.

On a regular basis my wife and myself work on each others upper back, neck and head while we are watching a movie. These often turn out to be 2 hours sessions. One of us sits on a chair and the receiver sits cross-legged in front of the chair for easy access. 

Recently I had a toothache problem and she gave me a long face massage which helped a lot. 

So yes, you can use all this in so many ways both professionally and within the friends and family circle or even on children.

If you invest in a few more specialty courses, as you mentioned you are planning on doing, you will have an incredible variety of techniques and styles and applications to work with. There is no limit what can be done with this material. Smile

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March 8, 2014 - 1:26 pm
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Hi Shama – 

Video 5 

After watching and practicing the first leg warm up video I was more comfortable doing the techniques. Anything I can do over the leg, like on my knees is better for me. Feedback from my partner was he liked the thigh pressing using the butterfly technique and he also really enjoyed the calf rubbing/rolling both with thumb and palm. Probably need more practice on the technique where I lean in with palm and pull up with the other hand. 

 

Video 6 

As I mentioned up above, techniques where I am over the client are easier for me. I really struggled with these thigh warm up exercise (I think) because I am short waisted so when I sit with his leg over my leg, his leg is literally almost up to my chest so I have no leverage to press with my forearms. I jiggled around trying a few other angles but I never could find a good comfort zone doing these techniques. I was fine doing the calf techniques and Greg likes the calf stuff alot. I personally liked having the calf technique where you press on the various foot sections while also pressing the calf. 

I’m pretty sure I will not be doing the particular leg warm ups in video 6. But the ones in video 5 were fine. 

 

 

 

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March 8, 2014 - 4:51 pm
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Try kneeling (sitting on your heels) outside of Greg’s legs, perpendicular to his legs. In this scenario his leg would not be over yours, or you could actually place it over yours as well. However in the kneeling position your body is quite  a bit higher which automatically gives you more leverage. This would not be the exact same technique, but a modification which compensates for size differences.

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March 12, 2014 - 10:32 am
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Video 7

Hi Shama – I felt very comfortable with these techniques when I practiced them tonight. No problems at all. I don’t know why Greg was having so much trouble with the knee up technique where you pull back because I was able to do it quite easily. I think your idea for him to maybe have my knee angled more up (or down) is a good idea and we can experiement with that. As someone getting the massage -I really liked that move. I like the techniques that create a traction. To me they feel quite good.

Otherwise, these were keepers in my book as one’s I will probably like to do often with clients. 

 

Video 8 – 

So, the leg in the groin thing is probably not going to work for me. I adapted this to get on the outside of my partner to keep the leg parallel and leaned into the leg with my whole upper body. I felt comfortable doing that and it seemed to accomplish the same thing, but I would never want to do harm so if this sound like it could harm the client (or me) – maybe I just won’t do that stretch. 

I had no problems with the calf and knee exercises and good feedback on those with my partner. 

 

Talk to you soon – Joleen

 

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March 12, 2014 - 10:57 am
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Hi Shama – we just finished Video 9 (again) with our practice. 

Now for these stretches with the knee in the groin, I was able to do because they are angled out I am able to perform the stretch much easier than the one that was 180 degrees. The feedback from my partner was good and he enjoyed them. Just goes to show how unique and different everyone’s body is. Greg cannot even closely bend to do the 180 degree stretch but is pretty flexible to do the ones out to the side. We practice the easing into the stretches with the gently rocking technique too. 

Also the spinal twist exercise went well too. Feedback was good. 

While pressing on the leg stretches the adducter (mispelled?) on Greg’s leg was like a band of steel. He said mine wasn’t though. Should we stay away from pressing on a muscle that we can actually feel this level of tension on? He said it was sore to do it, but not sore enough that he wanted me to stop. He identified it as about an 8. 

Talk to you soon – Joleen

 

 

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March 12, 2014 - 4:23 pm
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Don’t write off the 180 degree foot-in-the-groin stretch. This one only feels hard to do if someone is large and heavy and stiff. On lighter and more flexible people this is very easy to do and you have good leverage. That’s why it is so important to not only practice on one person since then you will form an opinion about how to do (or not do) something, but it might have nothing to do with the technique, but the person you are doing it on.

It might be a good conclusion that this particular technique doesn’t work for you when you do it on Greg, but trust me, it will work just fine on lots of other people.

And it’s adductors – Laugh

On very tight muscles it is best to do plenty of rocking or motion techniques, then follow up with pressure/leaning techniques, and then do the stretches. You can skip the stretches if they are too much, but you can never skip the warming muscle work. Many people have muscles which feel like steel bands in the leg. They need this work the most. Smile

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March 14, 2014 - 10:57 am
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Hi Shama – thanks for your feedback. Well we just practiced and watched video 10 again and as Greg mentioned in his forum (since I was sitting next to him when he wrote it) – we had not particular issues with these techniques or performing them. Overall as a client, I thought they were just OK, not 

We did get a chance last night (or I should say Greg did) to work with my 14 year old grand-daughter. She is a dancer and she has an audition coming up, so Greg did the leg stretches we just talked about in video 8 and 9 and some other hip openers and rocks. I think I could tell a difference immediately after her leg stretches in her kicks and leaps when she practiced after the session. Smile

Also, Greg really like the blood stop once I finally got it right. I don’t think the other times we tried I was doing it right, but I felt it this time and he said his leg got quite a rush when I released. 

 

 

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March 14, 2014 - 12:08 pm
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Great – the blood stop is a really excellent technique despite its gruesome name.

And Thai Massage is excellent for dancers. There is someone else here in the forum who works a lot on dancers with good success.

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March 17, 2014 - 10:16 pm
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Hello Shama – 

Video 11

Last night we watched the summary video and did an extended practice. We went all out and lit candles and put nice massage music on and our goal was to try and get through as many of the techniques as we could without breaking our flow. We had them all written down. Most generally I did pretty good with that, getting easily through the foot part and then having to only stop a couple times during the leg warm-up/stretches. 

Afterwards we talked quite a bit about what we liked, what we might like to include as part of our personal practice. We also talked about timing. It took us about 20ish minutes to get through the practice per person, and we (like you) were only doing one leg! So, if you were going to do a full body massage you really would only be able to do two or three leg techniques. 

As you probably know by now, we both really like the foot stuff. So my favorite leg things are the leg presses, the butterfly techniques on inner thigh with leg bent at about 90 degrees, the ones with foot on the floor and pulling to create a traction, calf stuff, and the stretches with foot in the groin to the sides. Oh, we both also love the technique with leg bent out where you press the calf and the foot in a elephant walk style using 3,2,1 – but we were disagreeing on therapist positioning for how to do it. You didn’t do it on the summary, so we’re going to have to go dig through the video to find it again. I know you might not want to say because you teach so many techniques but do you have any favorites for the leg that you like done for you as a massage receiver?

Greg still had trouble with the blood stop technique and in defense of him, I couldn’t even find my own pulse. Greg has a nice strong pulse, so it is really easy for me. It’s worth continuing to try because Greg really likes it and he felt it is one of the powerful techniques. 

Have a great day, and yes I am still alive (even though it appears I have no pulse) Surprised

 

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March 18, 2014 - 10:07 am
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Now you are finding out why I never did Thai Massage sessions less than two hours in my entire career. It just takes time to go through those many technique. But even in two hours there is no way to do all techniques which I teach in this course. So it will always be a matter of choosing what you want to do in each session.

Of course you can rush through the techniques, but that’s the best way to ruin a Thai Massage session. Slow is almost always better than fast.

Regarding what I personally like best – you know, for me it is not so important what techniques I experience but how the quality of touch is. Sometimes I experience a simple technique but it feels wonderful because the therapist has a great touch. And it doesn’t matter how great the technique is, if the therapist cannot transmit good energy it can feel lifeless, pokey and boring. 

That’s why I keep coming back throughout the course to the “anatomy of a massage move”, a set of principles which will transform a mechanical technique into a heavenly touch experience.

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March 21, 2014 - 9:35 am
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Hi Shama – totally agree with your previous statements. Here in the midwest USA I just don’t see alot of folks receiving 2 hour massages, but I’ll certainly offer it. I want whatever time they spend with me to be memorably relaxing and restoring at the same time. Smile

We have now watched Video 11 and 12 and have had a couple of practice sessions. Not really having trouble with any of the techniques, as I would hope – we appear to be getting a little better at executing and remembering the techniques. There are some that I don’t prefer to perform, but most generally everything is going better in every regard.

Greg has been having some trouble in his lower back, sacral area, so we have really appreciated the timing of these hip practice sessions. The last one on Video 13 at the 45 degree, with knee bent inwards was a nice stretch, with a good twist for that sore back. 

I’m trying to get Greg to watch Video 14 with me now, but the NCAA College Basketball tournament is on the television so not sure we are going to get any practice in tonight. 

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March 21, 2014 - 9:35 pm
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I guess there is a time for everything, including basketball. Smile

You know, I never ‘offered’ two hour sessions. I just told people that’s how long it takes, and nobody ever argued about it. Now granted, I worked in areas where there was a lot of awareness about health and bodywork – that might have helped. 

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March 31, 2014 - 9:25 am
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Hi Shama – We have not finished watching and practicing Video 14 and 15. 

Video 14 – Most of these techniques were easy for me to do and I think I scored some points with my partner doing the gentle twisting/rocking because of lower back soreness. I also don’t think my partner realized how relaxing just simple hip rocking can be. So got good feedback on all of the techniques tonight – that they felt good, which I guess is pretty good feedback. 

We spent alot of time practicing and messing around with the transitions in this practice session. For me this is a little tough to do exactly as you showed because my legs are so short that as I transition over the client, I’m almost touching him with my (well parts that I should never be touching a client with). I have to do a modified kinda of almost standing up kind of transition, so I worked on doing that smoothly, while keeping some type of contact and still need more work on this. 

Video 15 – I really didn’t think I would like this area massaged because I am very self conscious about my belly area. I think the other times we practiced this video I never played the role of client, but this time I did and I really liked it. Greg was being overly gentle at first, but we worked on finding a good touch that is not too light, but not aggressive or harsh either. I think he really liked the techniques as well. It was pretty surprising if you allow yourself to relax, how comforting and soothing the stomach massage can be. 

Later that night after I massaged Greg for several minutes in the stomach area, he blamed the massage for a repetitive need to go to the bathroom. I do not doubt it, since I work with clients for hypnotherapy – I have several with IBS and I have shown them how to do colonic massages to support their hypnotherapy treatments. So if move along the intestinal tract, you will likely stir up some movement. 

We both loved, loved, loved the shoulder elephant walks too. 

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