Here we are back again to feel out some more ways to practice this unique form of Thai Bodywork. This time I want to focus for a while at the shoulder. I will sign up later for certification and testing after my birthday at the end of September, and hence will take the practice slow as after my birthday is the start the new certification cycle for the Boards.
I am glad to be back (but never am gone anyway as this kind of inspiring learning remains always in my heart). This time I want to focus on feeling the sessions ever more energetically out and watching the videos more as well. Since, I have developed a hip problem myself, I want focus on adjusting myself into positions which are pain free, as I don't want to transmit any discomfort to my client. It is easy for me to reason myself through this, but on a deeper level it's always the feeling (prana or ki) and the energy which I am after. Still, after having taken a variety of wonderful courses, I notice myself that I am a bit too fast and need to slow down the moves more (generally speaking," when I don't practice rocking). My mind is too fast but when I feel myself sinking into the flow and then to presence myself is also easier.
I practiced some courses already but the reports, for the forum, I will write a bit later as I have not felt the practices out enough yet.
I will start the certification testing after my birthday at the end of September, since I am consciously wanting to slow down the learning process anyway, I don't want to run out of hours.
Hope that works with you too Shama. Here were I live, we renew our license every 2 years, so there is lots to practice.
I need another week or so to start my first report.
Shoulder Therapy Module 1:
The first module felt pretty much like something I could do right away.
This course is about feeling the techniques right for my body/mind energetically. I want to observe pain and wellness within me more closely. I want to feel comfortable as I have some issues of my own. I will not skip anything and confront all of the ways to work and observe pain levels and comfort levels (feeling solid, grounded and in the flow would be an ideal outcome). Some demonstrated poses I may not be able to do right now or ever, since I have a hip issue and forward straddling can be very achy – it all depends on the day. Energetically and practically, learning may not be as smooth as a result but it can be done with some grace and dignity in my own way. This is a journey of discovery as changes take place in my body/mind.
Working both shoulders with my practice person felt very good today. The straddling part I had to perform partly standing (as he is a bit larger) and that position felt very grounding and safe. It maybe ergonomically not quiet as ideal than straddling but it worked well in this case. Care has to be taken not to lean into the bony part on the shoulder while standing. Standing may actually initially take some of the sensitivity away compared to straddling.
Ok: I stepped back, unlocked my knees, and shifted gently forward while keeping the balance. It was easy. It was nice to synchronize with the breath. It was a good flow. Just focusing on this was enough to practice and this can always be more refined.
Straddling pose does not work on large persons that well, and then the standing position may work just fine as an alternative. On a ver small person I just can sit sideways next to to the torso although the weight in the shoulders may not be totally evenly distributed ergonomically/
I tried to work elephant moves on the shoulder from behind the head but the hands just don't feel right, unless I find a tender way to move the heal of the hand downward giving a slight pec stretch, if that is what I want to do, it can be right.
Rocking motions (up/down/sideways) are best felt most solid in straddling pose… Also, the wave motion came right away and felt natural to me.
The "figure 8 move" appears to be beyond my ability right now as is too hard for my hip and felt painful. Just doing one shoulder at a time was easier though but not comfortable. I need to feel this out at another day when I have less pain or better: no pain and a lighter person. What I did instead, was taking both of the wrists while standing and did a rotating figure eight move through pulling the wrists in a circular way (this move did not stretch the pecs as much as the "figure 8" as shown in the video though which must be feeling so great) which was not the same but in its own way was considered just fine. It was a loosening move.
The trapezius move was easier on my hip as pulling up does not squeeze my groin too hard. It was feeling just fine. I tried this sitting next to the body and when I pull up the traps, one side is always less pulled due my own weight being ergonomically differently distributed.
Shoulder circling and rocking, when done slower with a heavier person, was flowing with ease... the pose can be done also while sitting on the calves, and it felt just easy and right. It all is depending in the size of the person. It is interesting that every person really rocks differently. Every rhythm differs with every new person. I notice that sometimes I want to impose my rhythm (which is faster), but a heavier client teaches to slow down. heavier bodies want to rock slower often. When I impose my own rhythm, so I notice, I do not lean in but use muscle force instead, as soon as I use my whole body as a gentle guide, the rhythm magically synchronizes the right way.
So hope all is well…
I made a fun visual aid for myself to play with the first module.
Another one of your amazingly detailed reports. Especially the last paragraph about the rocking speed is so spot-on! You totally have it figured out - that's exactly how it works!
I am impressed by the graphic that you created, and how you inserted it into the forum post. I don't even know how to do this myself LOL.
the way I put pics up was to create a new Flickr foto account. Here the pic creates a link which in return I can post as a pop up picture here. I think in this way space is being saved.
Shoulder Module 2
This module was densely packed and it was not easy to get into the flow of all the ways to work in such a short time. It took me a while to look the videos, make a diagram and hence feel more at ease to get the flow going…
Sandwich shoulder circling parallel to the floor: under/over shoulder 45°
This Technique was very self explanatory. I could do that also be done in a different pose, like sitting on both calves. The same technique required a floor to work as the elbows would overextend on a table. The technique can perhaps be adjusted by sandwiching the arm on a 90 degree angle and using besides the hands the forearms to tug the arm onto the hip to secure the structures better. But… it did not feel the same on the table. I feel I have to feel and explore this out some more.
The Sandwich shoulder rotation at one point we are aligned with the body and felt more like a kneading sensation when one hand pushed up the pec and the other hand pulled and rotated the shoulder downward. The speed came with ease though when I was aligned right. Alignment really has much to do with getting into a relaxing flow.
Working with the knee under the shoulder supine was very new to me... but it felt as if I got the feeling for circular motions, wiggles, rocking, forearm work, palm circling behind or in the front-groove at the shoulder, or at the pecs, etc.... right away right. I discovered that I needed to support one hand over the others to do the slow circles right. I noticed that initially, I did not use body weight as I am too busy trying to get aligned, but, since you are always give us a reminder, it helps. This techniques feel on the table and on the floor quiet alright and can be done with ease on either the floor or the table.
Working on the pecs through leaning, rolling down and moving back with the forearm, while having my leg supporting the shoulders was new to me in the supine position, but I really felt this work is very effective when one does not use too much pressure with the elbow on a tight pec. It's wise to check in here as this move can be very intense.
I noticed that any thumb work at the groove of the shoulder can be very pointy and not everybody liked it but when these moves were combined with gently kneading/rolling of the shoulder while moving the hands and thumbs to different areas, then the flow of movement lessened the pointy feeling of the thumbs at the front groove of the shoulder.
The shoulder stretch (were the arm was resting near my hip, was feeling a bit uncomfortable. The stretch were I pull the shoulder forward and push the arm over, I still have to learn and appreciate better. I got a little fear hear as if this could cause some damage. Of course, that was a personal fear as I am careful enough anyway, I need to get the right feeling here still and don't feet “at home” with this stretch.
The last techniques which had the goal to bring the arm slowly, through kneading biceps motion, over the head is great but I felt overwhelmed at this point as the previous shoulder arm stretch was not wanting to sink in fast enough (I felt ungrounded in my experience of doing and having done enough). I definitely need to practice or better feel this way of moving things out some more. The initial squeezing and rolling and moving the hands up slowly was easy but the second part of the move, felt as if I forget where right and left was for a moment. Here we move the arm back and forth while one hand pulls the arm back… to relax the shoulders…. These two techniques were fighting each other. I might just for a while do just one technique when I get a chance. However, it must feel great to stretch and relax in this way the shoulder, once these new way of moving the clients body has sink into me and become a flow.[Image Can Not Be Found]
Anyway, this lesson took me a while even to feel comfortable to write about since the last part did not want to become right… but so it is… I have time to get this right eventually.
I feel that again the visual charts are of great help.
Wishing you all the best..
This time I placed the Flickr-link under the insert-link icon within the edit section of this forum and not under the picture-insertion icon. That worked too. The picture icon did not work today. One needs to have time to play around.
Your designs are quite impressive!
Certainly there are lots and lots of shoulder techniques in this course with some of them being quite challenging. This will definitely take some time to really sink in and get comfortable with. On the bright side there will be very few therapists around who will have anywhere near your repertoire once you are done with this course! Or, in other words, you will have quite unique skills.
Shoulder Module No 3
These moves were altogether more familiar to me as I learned some of them in another class. The traction part felt good ti divide into different sections for the joints, It's good to discriminate what we want to stretch, either shoulder, or shoulder-elbow, or shoulder-elbow-wrist. The simple leaning back part made this move feel very subtle.
The triangle position had a nice beginning and end by guiding the hand through supporting it. I never did that part and it felt as if this move was now more integrated. Stabilizing the foot with the foot was another nice way to secure and ground the pose.
The rowboat shoulder stretch is part of my work a lot of times before. It was helpful the way you pointed out the resistance(30 to 70%) between pulling with the hand and pushing the shoulder up with the side of the foot. This refined the technique a lot. It's so important to repeat something which was learned earlier again, because there is always something to improve.
Arm swinging with shoulder massage was real fun to explore and feel out. Putting some weight on the shoulder was another interesting grounding move which gave a mild stretch at the end. The shoulder held by the hand in place did not dangle wild around but had a definite end-feel. Helping the stiff shoulders along by pushing them in and roll forward in synchronicity with the swinging was another move move to address more stiff shoulders as did the grabbing. One energetically wants to swing not only parallel to the floor but include a few circles. A very relaxing move at the end.
You made a good point about refining techniques that you already knew. Sometimes people tell me that they already know a technique. The question is if they know all the refinements and modifications of that technique as well. Do they know how to combine the technique with their breath, how to use perfect body mechanics with it, how to apply it with least effort and least muscle power, and how to engage their energy with it? Often there is more to a technique than what meets the eye.
I really hear your answer to my last post as it hits home. How to combine breathe, body mechanics, least effort and least muscle power and engage energy into it? This is the key to all the work to be integrated and remembered.
Thai Massage Shoulder – Module 4
This module was starting out relatively easily energetically. With easy I don't mean that all is integrated as you said in your last post there are so many components to a move from body mechanics to energy flow... lets say the moves are familiar and they could be done both on the floor and on the table with grace and flow.
The scapula was moved with the palm, hand over hand, fast, slow, rocking and with heal of hand sideways. I took care to feel out the leaning forward going deeper and moving out – lightening up better. There is just only that much to focus on but after a while things fall into place. I closed my eyes sometimes to let the feeling flow naturally.
The combo moves with one hand on the back on the neck doing some squeezing, and the other hand circling the traps, came naturally as well, as these moves are also familiar from my work already. Moving to different spots is what the hands want to do anyway on its own.
What seems to still remain a challenge for me is to step over the body on the floor, as they are usually larger and I have myself a restricted groin area due to some issues I developed. I need to practice that part more with smaller people.
I find that the flow of the stepping over the body still have the potential to come very naturally, in spite of my personal difficulties. I liked the flow of the stepping over, the way to sit down on your calf at the other side where the arm rests against the body, when I lower the toes the leverage is changed again. I appreciated that by lifting and lowering the warrior pose (I call that pose "half warrior pose" as it reminds me as if getting ready to shoot a "bow and arrow"... where one leg is up and the other leg is bent that supports the body either on toes or calves). Anyway, working with the crease of the shoulder at the part where scapula meets the back of the deltoid, was very new to me and I have not felt it fully out yet. I am still in an explorer mode here. The question is always, "How can I do it better and more comfortably using less effort?" I sometimes got a little worried whether head of the humerus, the "ball in the socket of shoulder joint," could fall out of the socket but my practice person assured me that they always feel just fine. I think I really need to practice some more to gain experience. Do make these moves effort-free is the key to flow here. I am not there yet.
The stretches were felt intensely and I can see how the pectoralis can loosen with this new way of shoulder rotation up this way in good ways. Sometimes I wonder though, in case I decided that I wanted to hold a stretch, how would I do that best? Often I stay perhaps 6 – 8 seconds and repeat, sometimes I repeat a stretch often up to 4 times for only 4 seconds each, or do the rocking way. I wonder how you do the stretches if you decide to do them? Perhaps there is no hard and fast rule and it all depends on the person. Let me know if you have some insights.
"How can I do it better and more comfortably using less effort?" - That's really the perfect question for approaching the techniques! Sometimes course students tell me that they do a technique, and their back hurts from doing it. I know immediately that they are not using the correct body mechanics, that they are muscling the move, and that they don't work with their whole body.
Done right, the techniques should not and do not cause pain to the therapist. (Provided the therapist has enough common sense to know when to skip certain techniques on some clients)
Regarding holding a position for a while. as you know by now, I am not a fan of making rules. If it works for you and if you get results by doing it, then it is fine. I have my way of doing things, but I am not under the illusion that my way is the only way of doing it. I have created my style by doing many things differently from the typical traditional Thai Massage training based on what worked best for me and my clients, and you can do the same by adding your twist to it.
Thai Massage - Shoulder Module 5 – Side Position
The side position are generally speaking nothing new for me but I love to go over everything, plus the new content, in order to improve and pick up new ideas. Stabilizing the arm and doing various shoulder rotations or circling is part of my routine and I do this a lot. Since familiarity helps me to get into the flow it was possible to let the flow take over the circling. Combining the circling with various ways to work the scapula part of my repertoire already is helpful to open up for the new ways of doing to come. The point work along the medial border of the scapula is always nice to practice.
The stretches were interesting as pushing the shoulder forward while rotating while bringing the arm around was new to me and it was a nice feeling playing with the edge of the stretch. That stretch was experienced as string by my practice partner. It does not appear much of a move in the video but the stretch is string and must not be taken lightly. I notice that when I practice at first I use my head first and use the body less to support the move but as soon as I get it, which means I use the entire body, the moves are easier and the partner relaxes so much better.
The two way move, in which I push into the trapezius with my upper hand and at the same time rotate the shoulder back with my lower hand, was a bit difficult for my hip to put presser onto my elbow but it still was doable, I just was not as comfortable here. The part were I practiced the circular move was naturally not that easy to do for me and it will take some more practice to flow with it with grace. I wondered that if I do that move on the table next time, if I can find the right leverage? That part I still need to research for myself later. These shoulder stretches and the pressure against the trapezius in combination with the movement appears very effective to loosen up the shoulder girdle. It was was pull the arm back at the end to apply pressure as the arm was prepared for this by all the other previous moves. My partner reported a sense of invigoration in the shoulder area.
I am glad to be back online now. It took a month to get my computer back after refurbishing it. We have only one repair place in town and tons of students were before me. 🏮
I have to admit that I am not an expert in adapting the floor techniques to the table. I have never owned a massage table and always worked on the floor. So I have to leave it up to the creativity of yourself and other students to modify the course for table work.
I know I could easily figure it out since I am quite creative with such things, but I just don't have a massage table and will never need one.
Good for you that you are so comfy on the floor in all circumstances and are so healthy. You are in great shape and that alone is such a special - actual divine "Grace."
I think it can be sometimes necessary in the West to be flexible to adjust to circumstances according to need, especially when living in smaller places. Not everybody wants to be on the floor really. Hence, for me, both ways of doing Thai is to be integrated for practical and financial reasons as well. I would naturally loose a lot of old clients with serious conditions if I would only offer the floor from now on and that is not necessary. Most Thai practitioners have a massage table as a back up for people who can't or don't want to be on the floor even if they do mostly floor work otherwise - so I noticed.
That is why I love your course, I can find my own way of doing things instead of following a fixed routine with a certain traditional look (although I love a graceful look). What works for the client (and me) is what counts.
I remember in Thailand they had tables too... but they were all really low. It's really all a matter of practicality. Preference is a secondary concern for me here in the West.
Many of our course students do their own adaptations for the table, and I encourage that. I am also quite honest about the fact that I am not an expert in table work, simply because I have never done any table work except when I was working at a fancy resort doing mainly Heavenly Head Massage sessions. I did those on a table.
For Thai Massage I much prefer the floor. Even my wife refuses to do Thai Massage on a table. But that's because we have been living in Thailand for so long. I acknowledge that you may have a different experience in the US. And I am confident that you are smart and creative enough to figure out how to do this!
Thai Massage – Shoulder Module 6 – Side Position
The second part of the side lying position felt very natural in the way in which we did the push pull mechanism if pushing the shoulder forward and the arm backward.
During the video I was at one point a bit concerned that the ball could fall out of the socket at the shoulder. I wonder if you understand what I mean here. Of course the checking in (the number system between 1 and 10) feels just right to practice. Maybe that was at video 4 where we had the leg under the shoulder.... but it does not matter I still am a bit insecure when pushing the shoulder forward and the arm back (as shown in some nifty moves I can't quite remember totally right now.).
The technique in which I use the thumb at the medial border of the scapula, and the grabbing of the scapula with the fingers, while moving or pulling the shoulder back is part of my system already. When there is something I already practice from an earlier course from yours, I focus more on the energy level more so (so I noticed) and perhaps I spend my time watching if I miss some important detail. Really, among hundred and hundreds of moves which you teach, it takes practice to get the very nifty ones embedded into our energetic intuitive system, so they come up just as needed and take their own little twists and turns according to flexibility and restrictive condition of the client. I already use the 18.104.22.168.1 system at the scapula but noticed that when you said this it is felt so warm in my heart, as if I understood from my system (smiling here)... it's a small example of what happens, an understanding beyond words from having done some of this work enough so that supportive moves reveal themselves as we go on on their own.
When you sat across the client and lifted the scapula with one hand while pulling back the shoulder, I had to do that in a standing position over the client and it felt just right.
The stretch were I locked here hand just felt so nice and opening and I could feel the circular gently leaning with a supportive leg close to the upper back. I feel that I want to do this nifty move some more to get it down even better.
What I really loved is that we did the shoulder rotation in the beginning and at the end to transition into other areas of the body. Of course there other moves to mention, such as the shoulder sandwich rapid up/down moves... these simple appearing methods I like as it gives me a chance to sink into the breathing and the leaning back and forth applying lighter pressure or deeper pressure....
The 'appearingly' simpler methods are perfect to in tune into breathing, leaning in and out, and coming from the Hara... it's like a meditation to tune inward. Perhaps that is often the best way to bring forth the energetics needed to bring about positive changes, which want to reveal themselves in their own right.
The more complex moves, I notice, that I still stop my breathing and the energetics get interrupted due to my the mind and intellect kicking in for a need to understand the skill before it's even done. It's as if I rush to conclusions. Guess, that is how my mind works.... There is a need to want to understand things beforehand and sometimes things can only be understood while doing. It's as if there is no need to understand this (within medical reason so to speak).
I hope you and your family are well.
I have never pulled anyone's shoulder out of the socket, and I have never heard of anyone doing that. The only time when you have to be more careful is it you have double jointed clients or people with a history of the shoulder joint popping out. In other words, unusual aspects in their anatomy and physiology. Many Thai Massage moves seem more scary to the therapist than they are as long a you observe common sense caution.
Thai Massage clients get hurt if the therapist is either brutal, or badly trained, or both - and you are not in either of these categories.
Yes, I know... I could not help that the memory of a girl-friend came to mind who often had trouble with her greater trochanter while running long distance. It literally appeared to pop and snap out on occasion. Snapping hip may happen when a tendon slides over protruding bony structures at the front of the hip joint, creating tension and then releasing with a “snap.” From that case I wondered if that could happen at the shoulder joint too.
I found this video below which would explain the possible scenario somewhat better
But rest assured, I used these techniques last week and got great feedback from a client who had anterior deltoid problems... My practice-friend practiced that on my arm and it felt really good. I am not worried at all... just processed the new way of working at the shoulder and shared this it with you.
Thank you :-)!
Shoulder Module – 7 – Prone
Using the feet felt fantastic. It felt so right and easy going. I too used socks. It was fun to use different parts of the foot and applying the right pressure felt so natural. At first, I leaned in without rolling the foot up but once I got the roll up right, it added so much extra expression and was received well. I tend to like ways to work which are easy going and feel good. I have used this new way of using the feet on the traps already a couple of times with friends and had good results.
It was interesting and new to me to work at the deltoid and biceps with the feet as well (I tried just work gently as the biceps were not very developed on one person) holding the hand pulling slightly worked and was received well. The tissue or the person (after checking in if needed) tends to tell how far to go is right without words.
Rolling at the juncture were the arm meets the shoulder, walking gently down the upper arm (triceps) again felt really natural to apply, and the practice client told me that it felt better than anticipated. That juncture between arm and shoulder joint, I often ignored (or was more unaware about it) in my work, and knowing how to integrate these areas more, gave me a feeling of more completeness. Perhaps this is the most important part of the teaching, to integrate areas which connect the limbs to the trunk, the very unfolding this process of becoming aware of how to work there was interesting for me to notice and was very inspiring.
"The Way of the Knee..." - doesn't this sound like a Taoist saying, perhaps like something like "The Way of the Tea?" I have used my knees on a number of occasions to work on people. I had no trouble with these applications; but since that one person I practiced on had a very thin upper arm, my hand would have been enough to do the job. I just practiced anyway with the knee on her. One can use any body part for as long as one has control over the graduating sensitivity. I practiced a few days later on another person with more muscular tissue and the knee way was much more appropriate. Either way - it is graduated sensitivity which is the key to the right amount of pressure and checking in can sometimes be indicated.
I really loved to work on the traps with the feet the most... "lean and roll up"... nice and easy going. Afterwards we can flow into "The Ways of the Knee" -- with graduated sensitivity.
Looking forward to more practice time.
"One can use any body part for as long as one has control over the graduating sensitivity." - That describes it about perfectly! I have heard people say that knees or elbows or feet are brutal, but that's nonsense. It is possible to work with all body parts in a very gentle way.
"The way of the knee" - that's another good one!
It's great to hear that you loved working with the feet on the traps. This scares many course students, but it works great and it also feels good!
Thai Shoulder Therapy – Module 8 Prone and Supine
Various knee techniques (supine and prone) with positioning the arm in different ways was again possible. Only once I gave slightly too much pressure on my practice person but it was not bad pressure just slightly too much, hence making me aware that my sensitivity is still ever developing.
I like how we could lean straight down, or wiggle the knee left to right, circle the tissue, or going back and forth, or push forward and up. The tissue most likely tells what it wants to be done but it s nice to be aware of options.
I had a well muscled person who received these techniques very well. Things were easy going.
I really felt a hang up when we used the legs for supporting the shoulder joint supine. Moving the upper arm together to traction, while resting the upper arm of the client on the upper legs and move sideways, gave a very sublime stretch, which I got to feel as well, as we exchanged the practice time.
Moving the arm while leaning in and rolling your own forearm, or choose to apply circular motions, was just so utterly interesting and I had real fun to practice that, especially when we moved the arm actively along in harmony with the pressures or circular motion. I loved working this way, it was just so artistic that I could hardly think about any healing ideations or if my flow was all right… I just had fun learning and trying things out playfully. Perhaps one could say that I was in the flow to enjoy and investigate this lesson and less in the flow if ideative “healing(?).” Later, the arm at the elbow was pushed down and the shoulder pushed up using opposing hand, but the stretch was so new and so wonderful to give and receive. I can’t wait to have an opportunity to apply these new ways with my clients. I often wondered, who came up with this kind of amazing artistry in this kind of bodywork? It must often have been partly you Shama. Using the hand one under the shoulder and the other hand is used to push down the arm at the elbow over my knee was in a nice way intense. I loved to be stretched that way. The variations between the different moves were subtle. I enjoyed the artistry again and energetically I get a thrilling inner sense of inspiration in my 🧡. Hopefully I can use some of the techniques soon on my clients.
Thank you again! 🏮