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Julianne Smith - Complete Thai Massage course notes
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Shama Kern
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March 21, 2022 - 6:27 am
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"Going on top of the clients clothing is different from table massage so it's something to get used to when feeling for knots and such."  -  It is important to tell clients how to dress for a session. I always tell them to wear loose comfortable cotton clothing. And I have always kept some cotton 'pajama-style' pants and some t-shirts around in case a client shows up in totally inappropriate clothing like tight pants, slippery nylon clothes, or shirts with lots of buttons, etc.

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Julianne Smith
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March 27, 2022 - 7:02 am
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Module 12

 

I often have clients who want to work on hip issues and I often do so by working their legs as well. So I like how you point out that working the legs also can work the hips because they are connected.

This module was a challenge for me because there is a lot of standing over the client. I feel uncomforta ble with this.

The calve stretch in this module was super easy and there are plenty of ways to accomplish it for different size clients. The double knee-to-chest stretch felt a bit awkward for me and my client but I think it's just very different and I'm not used to it. Also, plenty of versions for various sized people. With the Elephant walking on the knees to stretch the sacrum I felt some hyper-extension in my wrist which hurt. I am having this issue with many of the techniques in general where the wrists are bent to compress the client. The circling motion that followed was also a bit wobbly for starters and was dizzying. The Power Hamstring stretch doesn't work for me and I am skipping this one. I don't like standing right over my client.

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March 27, 2022 - 7:57 am
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Make sure that your wrists are not bent at a 90 degree angle. If you use the heel of your hand for the pressure, your wrist angle will only be about 45 degrees, and that won't hurt you.

I would imagine that over time you will get more used to the Thai Massage positions and will feel more comfortable with them. No need to rush this. For now, just do what you are comfortable with.

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March 31, 2022 - 5:44 pm
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Module 13

I like the 1-10 scale of pain to make sure I am not taking the stretch too far because this is one reason I usually don't include stretches in my regular massage. I am fearful of that. It's also nice using my breath to move into the stretches because I have gotten into a really bad habit of “muscling in.” But then there is the idea of “good vs bad pain” and this opens up a new issue. Yesterday I massaged a person who was clearly in pain from the deep tissue work but when I asked her about the pressure she said, “It's what I need and means it's working.” I explained that this was really not the case, but clients sometime don't really understand this.

My favorite part of this unit is how you mention that we are to be “Massage Artists.” I have often thought of my routine in Swedish massage as an art form.

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March 31, 2022 - 8:36 pm
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'Muscling' in' will pretty much negate the benefits of Thai Massage as an art form. Working with feeling and sensitivity will go far in Thai Massage. If you do the latter (combined with the 1-10 questioning method), you will never have to worry about hurting anyone.

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April 4, 2022 - 6:44 am
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Module 14

I remember learning in massage school to always keep my hands in contact with the client so this is one I have practice with. I like this hip rocking technique. Just last week I used a rocking technique during a table massage and the client asked me what the purpose of it was. I told her it was to relax the nervous system but I guess I'm not really sure if that's the purpose. Is this just a relaxing thing?

With the one sided hip rocking I felt it in my back a bit and I'm going to need to work on this one to not use my back.

With my leg over my client for this one-sided hip rocking, this feels a bit invasive to me but I'm not used to having so much body contact at one time with my client. I don't feel comfortable with this one. When it came to the transition to the opposite side of the body I was lucky because my client is small. I will need to practice this on a larger person.

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April 4, 2022 - 9:11 pm
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Rocking does a lot more than relaxing. It bypasses resistance to linear stretches, it is often the ideal replacement for stretches that a client may not be able to handle, and it introduces an almost trance-like feeling of flow.

Rocking techniques are often more therapeutically effective than linear stretches.

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April 14, 2022 - 6:18 am
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Module 15

I liked learning about the Hara and the energy central of the body. The Asian energy work is one thing I like about this approach. But abs work is something I will only ever do if requested. The palm circles were easy but without the hard end feel of having skeletal support I was really nervous about this work. On a large client I think the elephant walking will be great. The hands on the sternum also felt odd to my client but I think we have a hyper-sensitivity to this sort of thing in our culture.

I like the work on the upper pecs and the shoulder elephant walking and will incorporate those into my table massage routine.  

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April 14, 2022 - 7:47 am
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I know, there is a high degree of sensitivity in the western world when it comes to abdominal work. However in my experience the therapists are often more concerned about it than the clients. You are not doing anything invasive, and the client is fully dressed. Besides, some gentle abdominal work feels really good. Still, this is up to your discretion.

You might try it on a friend or family member to get some feedback from them. 

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April 16, 2022 - 11:10 pm
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Module 16

I think my favorite take-away from this segment was the advice to think more about Softness in the hands versus focusing on the technique. This is an issue I need to remember even in my table massage. I also like the idea of a session being "Mechanical vs. Healing and Magical."

But this was also more difficult that I expected with the many changes in leg position doing the stretches for the shoulder. 

With the two sided shoulder lift and press I felt that awkward feeling of being right on top of and over my client. But the one-sided version of this was much better for me and I can easily adapt this one to table. I focused on 'working with breath' as suggested. I tend to hold my breath learning a new thing! 

The shoulder rowboat is one that I wish I could feel to receive because I just cannot imagine this feeling good. Maybe I can find a Thai therapist near me.

The triangle arm stretch was nice and I like the finishing swinging arm tech. and these are both great for table massage as well. 

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April 17, 2022 - 7:56 am
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I never felt awkward being on top of clients, but then again I have long arms, so I don't get that close to the client anyway. In my experience most clients have their eyes closed and don't know exactly where you are. But the one-sided version works just as well. 

By the way, not all Thai therapists know or do the row boat technique. It is not really meant to be a feel-good technique, but it creates a lot of movement in stiff shoulders.

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April 25, 2022 - 10:11 pm
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Module 17

I really liked this module because I can easily adapt most of it to table if I keep the clients arm at a lower angle and/or bend at the elbow.

I tried the circular elephant walking at various positions and pretty much anything works. Generally, when I have clients in supine I have their arms pronated, but I never thought about supinating the arm this way and it's so great to have options. Sometimes I feel like when I have used one technique that I cannot repeat or client will notice and get bored so I like following the lines as adding more bulk to the session. The hand squeeze seemed a bit confusing but probably because I'm over-thinking it.

The work with the pronated arm will add a lot of new stuff to my routine and I like that we can do this with or without lotion/oil.

I don't like the hand shake - will skip in my sessions. It just feels rude. 😉

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April 26, 2022 - 6:42 am
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Interesting take on the wrist shake. May I suggest that before you decide that it is rude, you try it on a couple of people and ask them if they concur or if they like it. Personally, I don't understand why you consider it rude. There are also foot shakes and arm shakes in Thai Massage. These are quite standard techniques.

I have often observed that therapists are really concerned about certain techniques, but the clients really like them. Sometimes we need to have the clients have the last word on these things. Smile

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April 30, 2022 - 5:53 am
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Module 18

I am really frustrated after this module and thinking maybe Thai massage is just not right for me.

It started out ok with the transition move but I'm confused if the arm pulling technique is only part of that transition or if we work that into the session even if we are using the "across the body" transition rather than at the head. I practiced this one on my very lightweight client but think this one would be difficult with many of my heavier clients.

I started getting frustrated with the next moves because there are so many angles and places to put my foot and worry about placement. Trying to copy what you are doing gets me confused. When I just stopped thinking about where to put myself and just made the circles with her shoulder it seemed to work itself out but I don't even know if I was in the correct position.

But the Figure 8 with the shoulder lost me completely. I mentioned earlier about feeling awkward being on top of my client but this one is just not for me. If I were working on a large person this wouldn't even be something I would be capable of doing. I'm upset about this. Maybe I'll just count it as a bad day and hope for the next module.

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April 30, 2022 - 7:55 am
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"Maybe I'll just count it as a bad day and hope for the next module."  -  That's a good idea.

There is no need to get it all perfect quickly. Don't let a few challenging techniques throw you a curveball. If you have trouble with something and it feels frustrating, just skip it for the time being and go back to what came to you easily. Even if you use only half of the techniques for the time being, and you improve those with practice, you will be fine. You can always come back to the more challenging techniques at a later date and add them gradually - one by one.

Focus on some techniques that feel easy and are more fun for you. Work on those and make sure that you do not focus on the technical execution only. Focus on relaxing, on feeling with your hands, on working with your body without stress, and on using your body weight. 

You need to get the feeling of succeeding in some areas, of enjoying what you are doing. Don't get hung up on some techniques that you are having a hard time with initially. 

Also make sure to work on a practice partner who gives you good feedback and who doesn't mind a few slips on your part in the beginning. Try to make it a fun thing and don't forget to laugh about yourself and some mishaps. Too much seriousness is going to kill your spirit with Thai Massage.

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May 8, 2022 - 4:06 am
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Module 19

I'm glad it was time for a review session. I tried to keep up myself at regular speed but had to slow down the video to keep up.

A lot of these moves are ones that I had trouble with earlier and still did so, especially while standing or leaning right over the client. Thai massage really is different from what I expected but I guess that's why we learn new things. I am also starting to have pain in my knee when I bend it sitting on the floor. Then getting back up is painful. But I'm older and probably just arthritis. Definitely won't be able to do a lot of this floor work. I'm still just hoping to add things to my table massage.

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May 8, 2022 - 4:45 am
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"Thai massage really is different from what I expected but I guess that's why we learn new things."  -  Good point, very true! Smile

"I'm still just hoping to add things to my table massage."  -  That's how many of our students use it. They just work it in with their table massage.

Personally, I have taken lots of courses where I just learned some techniques that I really liked, and I didn't use the rest. There is nothing wrong with  extracting those moves from Thai Massage that work for you, your body, and your preferred style of work. Many of our students do that.

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