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Karin Secrest - Thai Massage For Sciatica
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Karin Secrest
Eugene, Oregon
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December 11, 2019 - 6:46 am
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Thai Massage for Sciatica - Module 1

Hello Shama, I am back again enjoying this class greatly. This time, I worked the course a bit differently with the course material. It was just before Thanksgiving when I signed up for this course, and I knew I would not get my practice friends as ready as usually. So, I started to download the movies, practiced a lot of videos with my husband but I also need other body-types to be more effective (I am not done). Hence, to make good use of my time, I focused on the CEU Test earlier which I just finished. I just need to do the written part  on this forum and enjoy some more practice.

It was fun to watch the videos and get the audios and transcripts for which I am thankful. There is so much to say the things you give are so useful and much goes through my mind. These modules this time had a bit more explaining to do so we all are on the same page in regards to what sciatica is and how it can be treated effectively. The reason I signed up for this class was that I noticed that people with osteo-arthritic problems often have a bone to bone crepid kind of stiffness which does not allow for the knee to stretch towards the shoulders and that piriformis stretches are harder to come by for these people. I know some of these issues myself but wanted to get better to help some of my clients whose piriformis appear locked.

I also loved the part about the exercises at video 8 as well, and I will follow for remembrances sake some of these exercises along. The exercises are very good. It's not that I am not aware of them but what happens when one goes through life with one's own issues, one tends to forget a lot as exercising can sometimes become less intense, and all the hints of remembrance are necessary to add the various exercises back into the routine. Pain often causes a lack of discipline in regards to exercises and exercises are so important, especially when people themselves (talking about me) already have some issues manifesting (and getting better).

Soon I want follow some of your Spring Forest Qigong on Youtube. I like the name very much as it sparks my spiritual imagination which can lead to deeper energetic unfolding.

Ok, here I start writing finally about the first module 1 - the foundation about what sciatica actually is. It was a very nice introduction. Nerve roots combine to become one nerve and 17% of pinched and compressed nerves go through the piriformis themselves and pain can sometimes be felt all the way down to the feet. This was so interesting and was new to me. Especially when we think about how many operations are being done at L4 and L5 and the causes for what is termed sciatica is elsewhere to be found along the pathway of nerve. It is funny that I learned about sciatica in massage school and once in a while read over some articles but the way you present the material, the nice language you use, things actually tend to stick with me so much better. I like when you mention that we massage therapists may be of great help for our clients but ultimately other things need to happen for things to get better which have to do with life-style.

My experience so far with sciatica is that often clients do get better but it may not stay this way as there are lifestyle-habits we sometimes cannot change. For example, imagine that car driving can lead to sciatica in a person but the person has to drive to work, drive the kids, go shopping and still did not have a chance to exercise all day long. I heard that a lot of people complain from nerve pain due to car driving from a chiropractor. All of these developments are so interesting. We have to go out of our way to exercise and in earlier times exercise was the way of life. Humans mostly had to walk to the grocery store and back and hence were in better shape as a result.

I really do sometimes have a strong suspicion that all the imbalances which come through driving a car for hours on end could also cause hip-pain pain, lower back inflammation and impingement of the piriformis in the leg. Sometimes, for many hours, we have to give gas and work the breaks and gas pedal, which means we push mini weights repetitively for hours on end driving around town. Who knows how much weight an average person has to lift with the right leg in the car, similar to a repetitive syndrome of overuse the thumbs when texting, we overuse repetitively the muscles of the legs while buttocks atrophy, by pushing low weights? The leg moves constantly from right to left from giving gas to break. Imagine the weight of the repetitions which is added up all day long? When muscles waste away, they hold onto the bones structure for dear life and sometimes are weak and hard (tensed) at the same time. A hard muscle which compresses a nerve (causes pain) is not the same as a well toned muscle which can be soft when in relaxed state and leaves the nerves alone (no pain). Sometimes massage therapists do not always understand the difference, so I observed.

Why do I say this? I always get better in my own tightness when I walk more and avoid driving around that much. Perhaps that was also one of the reasons I felt better in Thailand as I did not drive the car that much.

Anyway, all of this work is such an interesting exploration and there is just so much to share.

Greetings! ūüôŹūüŹľ Smile

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Shama Kern
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December 11, 2019 - 6:30 pm
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My objective is to live in a place where I don't need a car and where I can mostly get around by walking. It's cheaper and healthier. Smile

Definitely any kind of very repetitive movement can cause problems, and most people don't even think of these things. That's why I always thought that a bit of education can be part of Thai Massage therapy.

After all, we move people all over the place in our sessions, so why shouldn't we be able to inform our clients a bit more about the nature of movement?

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Karin Secrest
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December 12, 2019 - 1:22 am
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You really got this point about car driving problems in a car driving culture right away. A lot of people are very resistant about looking at this issue when I mention this. Perhaps it could be that many people are way too attached to car driving as it may give them a false "sense of freedom" I suppose. 

I am living in a smaller town but it still would be to far to not drive even though some things can be done without driving. The walking for errands routes sometimes mostly not that nice here though as listening fast driving cars are nerve wrecking. One often has to even drive to a place and transport the bike when one wants to ride the bike at a half way peaceful zone. It has gotten crazy.

It would be an interesting research project to find out the right leg is more involved in car driving and how it is related to car driving? 

Walking is a good way to go.... lol... Wink  somewhere healthier.

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December 13, 2019 - 11:04 am
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I have spent a lot of time in countries where the public transportation system is so good that there really is no need for a car. Recently, when I was in Zurich for a month, we stayed with a Swiss friend (my age) who had not owned a car for 30 years. That's very easy to do in Zurich. Also in Tbilisi, Georgia, where we have spent quite some time, there is absolutely no need for a car. Same in Germany. And same in South America where I have spent a lot of time.

It's just that some countries, like the US, built their entire system around owning a car in most places, which is unfortunate.

When I was in Quito, Ecuador, many Americans said that they lost quite a bit of weight, because for the first time in their life they were walking everywhere and chose not to own a car.

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Karin Secrest
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December 15, 2019 - 2:49 am
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So true Shama. I live in a culture now which was built for the car and not for the people and it shows. It takes extra effort to stay healthy as we always need to go out of our ways to walk, exercise, hike and health is not build into our daily life and it takes effort and willpower to make it happen and integrate it. 

Thai Massage for Sciatica - Module 2

This was a very interesting introduction about diagnosis and testing as a bigger picture.

The lower back and the piriformis was looked at and the diagnostic methods well explained.

1. X-ray, 2. MRI Scans - can see soft tissue as slides (very interesting) in detail... 3. CT scans - here the client gets a liquid injected, which I did not know, and it sometimes may even cause cancer).

Low tech methods such as looking imbalances like posture, tight muscles, scar tissues, blocked energies may of great use. 

Once I came myself across a clients who got operated at L4, 5 and still had the same symptoms and after releasing the piriformis the pain improved. I usually released it with the elbow and some massage methods like cross-fiber friction and elongation friction. Sometimes I did a stretch as well, depending if the client could get into a stretch, some had other problems on top of it like arthritis. Thing can become very complex and we can only give the best.

I looked into the mentioned patterns of sciatica such as a sudden pain in lower back, buttocks/legs, or a low level sporadic produces pain with similar symptoms. Weather I have a diagnosis or not, we can work ourselves around the diagnosis as massage can be effective but we can always refer them out to acupunctures, chiropractors, and other treatment options. I like how you expressed ways of how we could be of help, like break down scar tissues, release tensions, consider wrong cell memory, etc. but most important is that often a certain positivity comes from a massage treatments.... which triggers self-healing. People mostly leave with a smile and that smile is a sign that there was a shift in the patterning of the system.

You mentioned the term "microcosm of massage," when we work on a specific place on the body therapeutically. One can always use the last ten minutes to integrate the whole body too and integrate the Macrocosm of massage as well. I think that a client would feel uneasy when if we did not work enough at the piriformis as we are too macrocosmic attached to the therapeutic session of the entire body.

In my practice I let the clients point at painful areas themselves... I found that to be helpful too.

Although we have lumbar and piriformis to look at to find the culprit for sciatica it is interesting that one can have problems in both areas. That is were things can be tricky.

Tests are:

1. straight leg lift 45 degree angle... if there is pain, there is compression, dorsiflex as a follow up, and the pain is newly produced we may get an idea about the situation. I was familiar with this one from massage school.

2. F.A.I.R Test: the leg is flexed, adducted, internally rotated while the body is in a side-lying position. Lift the leg up and pain is produced and chances are that there is a piriformis problem. Sleeping in this position also can produce nerve pain, most likely coming from the piriformis. This test was new to me and I am glad to become familiar with this new way of looking at things.

3.Standing on toes and heels can be aggravating too (this additional test was new to me as well and hence I am eager to try these at some point).

And again, we treat a person energetically as well. Hence we attempt to keep the balance in mind and not burden the client with over testing and overstretching one-sidedly. It is known, for instance, that if one side is of the body is affected, the other side of the body often compensates and hence it may be indicated to do some treatments on both sides of the body for balance sake..

This module reminded me again to take a comprehensive approach to balance the system energetically. It is good to know some ways to test but one can be overly specific in being too heady about the treatment and that can affect the overall treatment flow.

Thank you for this very good introduction. It was very enjoyable.

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December 15, 2019 - 1:23 pm
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I agree with you that both sides should get some attention. When I do specific therapy work on one side, I always do at least a little something on the other side as well, just to give the client a feeling of balance, and, as you mentioned, because the body reacts and compensates on the other side anyway. 

We don't have to give equal time to the other non-affected side, but it shouldn't be totally neglected either.

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Karin Secrest
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December 16, 2019 - 6:38 am
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Thai Massage for Sciatica - Module 3

I agree that the (1) rocking and wiggling techniques are one of the best ways to coach the muscles into relaxation and that it is wise to do the warm up before  doing the (2) stretching so the muscle is warmed up and looser and the mobility is added (I liked the oil canister in red in the video, very cute). 

The rocking and wiggling techniques which you showed, I am very familiar with and they are very much part of my repertoire. Most people in pain respond so well with it. Plus, because it is so easy  to apply when we use variable pressure (plus use the whole body), a rhythm is established which invites softer relaxing energies to come in. This is almost like a dance really. I liked to change the rocking with each rock up and down and parallel and it comes all so natural by now. You did it just once as you changes positions and that was perhaps new as I tend to rock more often at the same spot. 

The heel or ball of the foot method was also easy to do. I actually have a stick if I have a day were my balance is off but usually I do fine here. I practiced that method on my friends as I want to safe my hands and it is actually fun. I notice that when my mind is very fast and windy that my balance is off. Also during the afternoons (the vata times) I tend to be more off balance. I remember that also when I did balancing poses in yoga during that time period.

It is interesting to see how many people have a tight piriformis without pinching the nerve yet.

It is good that you say that muscling cuts off energy flows but using the entire body is giving the flow off Tai Chi. That is what I am after too. I am so much more aware as your mentioned it so many times, it is one of the most important patterns to develop.... using the entire body to open ip the energy flow. Yes... I want that.

This was fun to practice and brought a lot of easy to my practice friend

Thai Massage for Sciatica - Module 4

The elbow work at the groove (or fingertips on small person) - that too is familiar already as I enjoyed working that way already more or less, thanks to your courses I got so much more refined and detail oriented actually. The elbow in the groove, the lean in roll down - releasing pressure, is so good as the elbow gives some pointedness which then gets released and lighter on flow through the rolling down of the elbow, and which I experienced as very effective when my friend did it on me. It felt superb. 

Working on the floor has been very good for me recently as I had some breakthroughs with my hip healing. It's not perfect yet and I don't know if it ever will but I find ever new methods to be on the floor and improving my flow on shifting the weights right.

Wiggling methods, linear or circular, hurt at the end of the stretch. I liked the ---30------------70--- method which visually showed the range of movement. It's all common sense really but a little visual aid is great too. I experimented with the number of fingers doing that method and that too makes a difference. Leaning in, increase presser, lean out release pressure, is again the way to make things flow and it did. 

Really, I never learned as many good methods for the lower back as in the sacrum and sciatica courses. I initially though that I do not need to take the sciatica course as I did the sacrum course, but I am glad I took both courses up as there  are differences in approaches even energetically.

With the straddling I have problems as my clients are wider and my legs shorter. However, I found it quite alright to do the tapotement percussion sitting just next to the body. It maybe more dignified in my case. 

When I practice on my husband, he appears to have a condition were the connective tissue increases between organs and hence he has a belly which is not necessarily based on overeating (he does not eat much). Hence I wonder, if I should get for him these pregnancy bolsters. Perhaps that would help him better to be face down. I honestly have trouble trying many Thai methods out on him as I can only work on him supine (which is great) side-lying. Sometimes it frustrates me a wee bit. Still, it is important  for me to adapt to whatever the universe presents patiently, and I want to be unconditional with him, and yes, me too. It is good to notice that I have preferences when it comes to practicing but I really think that I don't want to have preferences as we are all part of the creative force which is unconditional "awareness" or a "personal Beloved." Well, this is just an observation which I share. It is not a problem. I can adjust easily otherwise. Overall, this course is a wonderful opportunity to plant some more body awareness into my family. It's so easy for some members to be so heady, make a living headily and not be in the body.

What a journey Shama... and always so much to share. Thank you for teaching and listening.

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December 16, 2019 - 11:35 am
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It is quite impressive to read your posts and notice how so many things now come naturally to you. You have integrated the entire Thai Massage system successfully and are now just working on refining it. 

So many times when I work with students who are totally new to all this, they tell me how it is difficult in a number of ways, and I always try to convince them that after a while it will all fall into place. I can only imagine how all this can feel overwhelming and confusing in the very beginning.

You are the perfect example how it DOES all fall into place if you just stick with it and practice it regularly. It does take time. You can't just watch a few youtube videos and get good at this. There needs to be a real system where all the pieces connect in the right way.

Anyway, I am glad to hear from someone (you) who is not overwhelmed anymore and is at a stage where it all starts to flow. Smile

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Karin Secrest
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January 4, 2020 - 8:51 am
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Thank you Shama. I took off during the Holidays so I continue my reports. Obviously I have done all the videos but getting around to write things up takes me time due to the many errands I choose to do. I will catch up soon. I was at a yoga retreat and practiced Thai there and people called me a "healer" which I refuse to accept as I have long ways to go. I give any credit to you though as without you I would not have been able to improve some important skills.

Thai Massage for Sciatica - Module 5

I have recall the video and remember what happens as I forgot a bit what happened during my practices. Here in the video we talk about the sacrum and it is great that you taught that when the sacrum is out of balance that a lot of other things are out of balance. Obviously that affects the entire pelvis as well. Right, I really liked how one hand rocks and the other leans in. That one I practiced at the meditation retreat too as it was so much fun to do. Transferring from one side of the body to the other is always hard for me due to my own hip situation (spider-man is not for me ), however,  I have found some other ways to transfer sides. I can push myself with one hand up and stand and go down while rocking but use my arms to give me strength to move from one side to the other and then slowly come down without letting myself drop. 

Doing some elbow work (you used both forearms at different angles) on the sacrum you said that it does not feel good to roll over the sacrum but I am not so sure. My practice friend did it on my and it felt very good to me. Perhaps it depends on the pressure. I noticed that one elbow leaned along with the fibers of the muscles and the other elbow leaned against the fibers as in cross fiber friction at the piriformis. That can e a great flow too Very nice changes to absorb, I thought.

Getting into the piriformis deeply with the elbow - power can be so good. Most massage practitioners I had did not go deep enough for me. Not sure why there is such a reluctance to go deep in my life. Having my knee on the piriformis was not problematic as I do use my knee more often these days. Shifting the weight was fun too.

The technique I liked the most was the last one. Here I pulled the hip up while I used the knee to get into the buttocks. When my friend did it on my it so resonated. I think for me doing the work and receiving it is always very helpful. 

 

Thai Massage for Sciatica - Module 6

The straddle technique leaning forward, moving sideways, or alternating was easy going. The trick is to do that rocking for a long time and that has to be remembered as it is really true that when rocking is rushed and shortant, it does not appear to feel totally satisfying.

Working and rocking the hamstrings, circling, kneading and the elephant work was also inspiring especially when we circled with both arms.  There is a good feeling working at the sacrum, buttocks and hamstring and it feels integrative to work everything.

The supine position, I could not straddle the client, but there are other ways to gently rock the pelvis left and right, even sitting next to the body can work or standing works as well.

The last part, when I had my leg over the body, and was about to lift the opposite hip and lower back up, I felt that I was able to close to the private parts of the person. I had however some sand bags and I put them on top the quads (which, yes, is interrupting the flow) but I could rock the person up and stretch that area better.

The positions you teach can always be experimented with as everybody is different and the leverage and ability of client and practitioners needs to be adjusted according to the changes of client and situation.

-----

Hope you had a "Gude Rutsch ins neue Jahr 2020." Smile

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January 4, 2020 - 11:57 pm
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I think you should not reject the 'healer' label. You can in your mind decide that the healing doesn't just come from you, but through you. But people like knowing a 'healer'. It is good for them, it gives them hope, confidence, a purpose and inspiration. Don't take that from them.

I have been called a 'healer' by many clients. As long as we stay humble about it and don't let our ego get involved, there is nothing wrong with this term. If I go to a therapist, I much prefer to go to a 'healer' type than a 'massage mechanic'. Smile

And anyway, the whole purpose of a healing arts career is to become a healing artist, right?

I am glad that you are doing your own adjustments and modification.

I had a 'Gude Rutsch' - thank you. I hope you did too! Smile

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Karin Secrest
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January 6, 2020 - 2:46 am
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Thanks for your encouraging words. For some reason I felt suddenly so shy. I signed up for your course ,"magic touch." A lot of the things you taught earlier in various courses but it is good to hear all of the different methods some of which I really resonated with, like letting your hands  float like clouds, feeling softness, in one course. I enjoy this so much as this comes natural to me anyway as I studied Lomi on Hawaii earlier, which so much feel like some of the QiGong ways.

When I was at the Winter retreat, I worked on a person who was afraid of Thai massage as she thought it is overstretching the body way to fast. She told me that my work felt like some Shiatsu methods she learned (I did not use my thumbs at all but Shiatsu is so much more than just thumb work), I did mostly rocking and kneading, circling and doing the breathing work. Thai really works with the overlapping channel systems very well.

I looked up module 6 on the video to re-remember what I did, which started more stretching methods and decided to practice it once more with my friend next week. I realize that the stretching part I need to practice much more as my hip in the past hindered me to do certain moves without pain, so and I focused more on the kneading, elephant walking, palm walking, elbow, knee and foot work. I need to feel again how I hold up with my hip doing the stretches... I think I am rather well though these days in comparison to one year ago.

Sometimes it is best to feel things out once more, especially after the Holiday break. I also want to work on somebody really flexible and somebody really stiff. "Feeling the difference" once more is what I want to explore.

I am glad I took your magic touch course again... such a good summery of all your teachings through all the courses. Thank you.

Getting ready for Thailand mid January.... Yeehaa. Laugh

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January 7, 2020 - 1:00 am
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I am glad to hear that you resonate with the Magic Touch course. That one can be a hit or miss with some people. For some therapists it seems to be somewhat over the top, while for others it brings it all together. It is definitely not for the 'mechanically-minded'. Smile

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Karin Secrest
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January 11, 2020 - 4:36 am
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Thai Massage for Sciatica - Module 7 - Stretches and Manipulations

Agreed, rocking feels so beneficial for sciatica. Doing the spinal twist it is so easy how leverage helps to support the stretch. Noticing how you used your entire body again was inspiring. The nice part is the rocking part to release possible tensions. It worked nicely on  my stiff practice partner. 

The hip circling was blocked and moved square-like and not round, and I found a lot resistances in the joint. I went slow and gently and gave the circles a soft feel. Then the pushing down towards the chest was easier. Moving the leg outwards and inward via rocking is effective after a while but tension and resistances were there. It will take more than one treatment to help my practice person here.

Foot in the groin area was a good remembrance, as I had forgotten this move from earlier modules, rocking the knee sideways gently was not a problem, I noticed that I did go gently towards the edges. I like when you showed the same move at the other leg so I could reposition myself a bit. Right and left sides are always different for me.

I think it is important for me to focus more on easing out of the moves after a (rocking) stretch. I feel for myself that I want to be much more sensitive there. I really liked the way you were rocking the stretch out and into relaxation.

The power version of the "knee folded out stretch," the part were the clients foot rests in the practitioners groin to be circled by holding the lower leg snug in place using the hand, that part, I was worried about, if it aggravates my own possible inflammation in the groin. It did so in the past but this time it was almost ok. This move I need to practice more as this comes not natural to me.

 

Thai Massage for Sciatica - Module 8 - Structure and Client Homework (Information - Education - Advice - Homework Section)

Just like you, I never charge clients for the intake time. I want to give them full attention during bodywork.

This module I mainly listened to to find ways to fill in what more I could do already. Obviously, I do client intakes and communicate well, give advice and homework. I think it is nice to do a handout based on you material and give this to the clients. The yoga exercises and your demonstrations are especially important. The rocking technique is most effective to coach the muscles into relaxation.

The simple exercises: I have to try out as they are simple enough to do. It reminds my of old fashioned "turnen" a bit but they are effective and mindfully done become an energetic healing tool similar to yoga.

I liked to see that you had some chair moves included. I often have to work on this level and I am glad you thought about these people as they are easy to dismiss in a humanity attached to their body mind as if they never ever age.

The floor motions were good too.

When I look at all these exercises, they are for me and what I go through as well, and I will instantly typed this out to practice myself tonight that as this is a powerful combination to integrate yoga with other exercises and floor exercises.

Although I have been doing yoga all my life and used to be much more flexible I feel limited these days due to what I had to go through and often needed to work on strength and walking more than anything. It is good to do some of these simple moves and experiment with them further.

Perhaps this part was the most empowering not just for the client but for my own healing.

Hope you are well. I finished the "Magic Touch Course." There is one particular word which made my day and it was "cloudlike touch." So, for me the Shama word of the day is now: "cloudlike touch."

Be Well... Next Sunday we fly to Chiang Mai.... so nice. I am so happy to be there again.

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January 12, 2020 - 12:42 am
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Maybe you should open the 'Cloudtouch' massage center, or the 'Cloud 9 Massage Heaven' or something like this. Smile

Words can have a significant impact. I used to work at a destination spa in Thailand, and they advertised my Thai Rocking Massage and my Heavenly Head Massage. 95% of the bookings were for Heavenly Head Massage, because of the name.

Enjoy your trip to Thailand!

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