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Kathryn Morris' complete thai massage notes
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Kathryn Morris
Louisville, KY, USA
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June 16, 2022 - 3:25 pm
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Module 1

Hi Shama! Module 1 has left me very excited for this course. I found myself nodding and saying "yes this is it" a lot. I frequently find myself frustrated doing table work because it is hard to use proper body mechanics or get proper leverage on a body part. The therapist positions you showed are all very comfortable to me. I am already familiar with the 4 positions of the client and use them all in my current practice. I use most of the tools already as well, but not the feet or knee. Using my breath to connect my movements is something I already tried to do or was at least aware of, but I took the time in my practice with my next clients to really pay attention to what that felt like and make sure I did it every time. 

The only question I have is about prone work. When the client is positioned face down on the floor, should they rest on their chin or forehead or turn their head to the side? I am accustomed to using a face cradle for prone table work. 

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Kathryn Morris
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June 16, 2022 - 3:55 pm
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Module 2

Body mechanics or ergonomics was strongly focused on in my massage school. However, we weren't trained to work over the client, just next to the client. This module gave me ideas and permission to adapt my body mechanics and work over my client. None of them has been uncomfortable with it, I have been able to comfortably massage areas that tend to exhaust me and get better relief for my clients. 

 

The chi machine was really fun and came naturally to me. There was one client whose hips moved, but the movement stopped towards the top of the thoracic spine in an area I had previously felt energetic blockages that didn't like to release. When this area finally moved, which didn't take long, it felt like a rushing wave of energy washed through the client's body into their head and finally completed its circuit through the body.

Since becoming a reiki practitioner, I have started a transition to calling myself a body and energy worker. They are completely interconnected and linked. I think this course is going to help me bridge the two types of work I already practice and boost my confidence in talking about what I do. Many people in my country are opening their minds to the idea of massage, but the concept of energy work is still seen as weird by many. 

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Shama Kern
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June 17, 2022 - 7:36 am
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Welcome to the Complete Thai Massage certification program, Kathryn! First, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with our certification checklist to make sure that it is all correctly organized:

Certification Checklist

"The only question I have is about prone work. When the client is positioned face down on the floor, should they rest on their chin or forehead or turn their head to the side?"  -  There is a video in the course (when you get to the prone section, in module 20) that shows you the best way to do this. Turning the head sideways is not comfortable or even possible for some people, and resting on the chin or forehead is very uncomfortable.

We have a solution for this with our simulated face cradle which consists of strategically placed cushions that make the prone position quite comfortable. An actual face cradle does not work for Thai Massage since, unlike in table/oil massage, the client is moved around quite a bit and would be lifted out of the face cradle several times.

This course seems to fit you like hand-in-glove so far. We have a lot of Reiki practitioners among our student base. They immediately get the concept of energy, of course, whereas many clients don't. We have some videos on our blog that simplify and explain this concept in a way that clients can understand. Here is a good reference:

Thai Massage Sen Line Therapy Introduction

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Kathryn Morris
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July 4, 2022 - 9:06 pm
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Module 3

I have really taken my time with this module. I have found that practicing 1-2 moves at a time helps me go slow enough to make sure I am using my whole body for the movement, I am connecting my breath to my movement, and that I am becoming fully aware and understanding of what each move is doing. This course is helping me further develop my palpation skills, awareness of energy movement and flow, and understanding of how everything connects. 

Practice client 1: This client typically has restricted fascia and energy flow and tends to feel bound up. When starting the foot work, the client's hips were so restricted that most of their movement came from their low back with their entire pelvis moving. After 2 - 3 rounds of the moves, the hips themselves were moving more freely and the client reported that their low back pain was significantly improved and that they felt they could stand better. 

Practice client 2: This client's legs moved much more freely, though there was significant difference in feel from right to left, the hips did not lie evenly on the ground, and the low back did not lie flat. The right leg felt restricted and taught, like the tissues were pulling back while the left leg had almost full movement from the first round. After 2 rounds of moves, the legs were much more even and balanced, and the clients low back and hips relaxed to a more neutral position. This client tends to not give as much detailed feedback and simply states that things felt good, and they feel better. The more frequently I work on this client, the more energy I can feel in the right leg which felt cold and locked up the first time I worked on them. 

It is fascinating to see how 2 different bodies respond to the same technique. Thank you for resending the check list, I believe I have completed everything. Also, re-reading the example for what to do for the notes gave me a better understanding of what to do and helped me feel more comfortable/confident in doing what feels right with each client. I hope I can find more practice people that give detailed feedback about what they are feeling. 

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Shama Kern
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July 5, 2022 - 12:06 am
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Wow, you seem to be getting excellent results in your practice sessions, especially considering that you are at the very beginning of the course!

"This course is helping me further develop my palpation skills, awareness of energy movement and flow, and understanding of how everything connects."  -  And it will improve your physical abilities and flexibility as well. Smile

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Kathryn Morris
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August 17, 2022 - 12:01 am
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Module 4

Can we take the movements in either direction? If we can only go in one direction, why? I am especially interested in the answer to this for the contraction/traction move. 

Pointing out the conceptual part of this class really helped me feel comfortable breaking out of a routine and following the flow. I have to remember to trust my palpation skills and feel what and where I need to do next. In my current work I follow tension and energy patterns to find adhesions, blockages, and restrictions and work through them. Does that apply to this style as well?

I appreciate the review and repetition. Different body positions have worked better for different clients depending on their size and flexibility. Transitions are still a little difficult but are becoming more natural. I have also noticed a few times that I get moving quickly and lose sight of my body mechanics or if I am using my body weight versus generating pressure with my muscles. The further we get, the smoother my technique becomes.

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Kathryn Morris
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August 17, 2022 - 12:14 am
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Module 5

This feels like it is the perfect bridge for the connection between client and therapist. My previous education and experience have taught me how to feel and listen to the body and it's energy developing my quality of touch. This course is adding more techniques and body mechanics with a focus on the client and therapist feeling comfortable and connected. While I already knew body mechanics were vital to a good massage and long career, I am beginning to understand on a new level how to use my whole body to give a massage. I think it is an American concept that certain touch is inappropriate, and a client should really only be touched with the hands. There is no using the body to brace or support the client, which just seems silly now. The more I practice yoga, the better I understand my own body and movement, and the more connected to myself I become. As I continue this, I think it will make me an even better therapist.

While practicing the butterfly technique, I played with the direction of my weight. Two clients felt the direct down motion was too much, but pressure slightly towards the heart felt good. This directly coincided with my experience as a therapist, the direct down felt like I had to go slow and be cautious with how much weight I used because the limit occurred so abruptly, but I was able to do a fluid natural movement without holding myself back with the pressure slightly towards the heart, their limit was less abrupt and easier to feel. Clients agreed that using palms first felt better than thumbs first, which works with one of the first principles I ever learned "work general to specific back to general". With one client, thumbs were too specific to use at all. This client prefers broader more general touch. 

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Kathryn Morris
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August 17, 2022 - 3:57 am
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Module 6

Are sen lines something we will be learning about more in depth throughout the course, or is it something I should research on my own?

I was really excited to practice this module with a massage therapist friend because I got to feel the techniques too which I find really helpful. While performing the rocking technique, it felt like the sole purpose was to get movement into the hip and warm up the joint, and that switching sides wouldn't be very important. When I received the work, I realized that the push and pull felt different from side to side. It wasn't just the joint movement that was significant, but the slight compression of the muscle actively being pushed or pulled. I am very excited to use these specific techniques on a client I have had for a very long time that is much larger than me with tight hard muscles the next time I get to see them. The squeeze between the elbow and body on the IT band is probably the most effective and efficient move I have ever done for the outer leg. My right leg has been bothering me for some time now and feels significantly better after receiving this work. 

How long does a Thai massage typically last? I feel like I could work on a client for hours using this style of massage, if they required it. Some clients take longer to warm up or take a slower approach. The positioning of myself and client is removing many barriers and obstacles to comfortably being able to reach certain areas or apply enough pressure. I do find that it is easier to go too deep too fast than with other styles of massage I have used. However, the more I practice and the more frequently I see an individual, the better feel I have for how much "lean into it" they can take.

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Shama Kern
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August 17, 2022 - 5:14 am
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"Can we take the movements in either direction?"  -  I show it the way how I feel most comfortable with. However, there is no reason why you could not do it in the other direction. I suggest you try it both ways and see if something feels better to you.

"In my current work I follow tension and energy patterns to find adhesions, blockages, and restrictions and work through them. Does that apply to this style as well?"  -  Definitely!! You will see that throughout this course.

"This feels like it is the perfect bridge for the connection between client and therapist. My previous education and experience have taught me how to feel and listen to the body and its energy developing my quality of touch. This course is adding more techniques and body mechanics with a focus on the client and therapist feeling comfortable and connected.
While I already knew body mechanics were vital to a good massage and long career, I am beginning to understand on a new level how to use my whole body to give a massage. I think it is an American concept that certain touch is inappropriate, and a client should really only be touched with the hands. There is no using the body to brace or support the client, which just seems silly now.
The more I practice yoga, the better I understand my own body and movement, and the more connected to myself I become. As I continue this, I think it will make me an even better therapist.
"  -  Your comments are spot-on and totally reflect the spirit of this course.

"Are sen lines something we will be learning about more in depth throughout the course, or is it something I should research on my own?"  -  You will learn more about them in this course, and if you want to go even deeper, we also have a more in-depth and specialized course just about sen line therapy.

"How long does a Thai Massage typically last?"  -  You could do a one-hour session. However personally, in my entire Thai Massage career, I have never done shorter sessions than 2 hours, and most of my sessions lasted from 2 to 2.5 hours. I don't like having to skip things, and I don't like to be pressured for time. Especially when you do therapeutic work on clients with problems, you need time to deal with it. In my opinion, a one-hour Thai Massage session is too short. It can be done, and the majority of Thai Massage sessions are probably one-hour sessions, but if you ask any Thai Massage therapist in Thailand, you will always hear that a 2-hour session is recommended, and I certainly agree with this.

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Kathryn Morris
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January 5, 2023 - 8:37 pm
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Update for Shama

Hi Shama! I know it has been a long time since I posted. My computer broke and I did not have access to the course. I have already watched and practiced modules 7-9. I will be posting those soon. I thought I had posted for 7 before my computer broke, but it looks like I was mistaken. I typed out my post for 7 and when I went to post it, the link had expired, and I lost everything I had typed. I hope this does not impact my ability to get my certification and CEUs. If I need to do anything different or extra, please let me know. I continued practicing what I had learned so far the entire time I was without access to the course. Thank you. 

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Kathryn Morris
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January 5, 2023 - 8:42 pm
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Module 7

So far almost everyone's favorite moves are the right-angle foot and foot walking stretches, it is also my favorite to do. Most of my clients thus far are too tight for the butterfly stretch. I do have one client that says the butterfly stretch feels good, but their hip doesn't rotate down/their leg doesn't fall out to the side, rather their opposite hip lifts all the way off the mat, and they get a rotation in their pelvis. The cross-body hip stretch has been difficult for me to get correct positioning on and feels hard on my body with thicker clients. My hands are unable to clasp onto the larger thighs and my hands just slip. 

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Shama Kern
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January 6, 2023 - 1:22 am
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Here is some good information that should help you to prevent a post from disappearing:

How to prevent posts from disappearing

I always do this when I post something. Sometimes you get logged out without knowing it, and that's when posts disappear. But luckily there is a solution.

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Kathryn Morris
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February 7, 2023 - 12:52 am
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Module 8

This is my favorite position to work the calf in! I feel that I am better able to isolate the heads of the gastroc in this position and that the work is more effective. It also translates easily to table massage. I have enjoyed playing with combining skills and ideologies from multiple massage modalities and found that doing a slower version of the move where you alternate between the left and right gastroc feels wonderful to my clients. I place my fingers in between the heads as shown and use a slow sink to find the stopping point then rock back and forth and move up and down the calf. I have found that most of my current clients require the rocking while doing these hip stretches. The one client I have that is very flexible does not feel a stretch at all when I do these stretches and prefers the feel of joint movement. I find myself doing warm up, joint movement, stretch rather frequently. Every client is different and even the same client can vary day to day with what they need and what feels good to their body. 

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Shama Kern
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February 7, 2023 - 6:44 am
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It seems that you are using creativity with the course material by adapting it to your and your client's needs or situation. That's good!

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Kathryn Morris
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February 16, 2023 - 10:37 pm
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Module 9

Seeing you use your knee in this module excited me. I had been playing with using my knee to hold points of restriction/tension/resistance and this gave me the confidence and validation to continue and go for it. I have had to modify a few body positions to allow for size differences between me and my clients.

One client's lower leg is the same length as my arm so I had to adjust my hold, and I was able to find a position where both the client and I felt secure and comfortable, and I could still use solid body mechanics to achieve the correct movement. The elephant walking on the adductors looks like it will feel amazing once I have a client flexible enough for it.

Both clients that I see regularly have already seen a 50% increase in their range of motion and say they move easier in their daily lives. The cross over spinal twist is the move that has been missing from some of my sessions. It really releases the low and mid back. My years of experience have heightened my ability to feel where tension and restrictions lead and connect, this style of massage is providing many missing tools for being able to properly address that and hold opposing points as necessary. Using my knee/whole body has strengthened my love for massage and added a whole new layer of fun. thank you.

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Shama Kern
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February 17, 2023 - 4:03 am
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"Both clients that I see regularly have already seen a 50% increase in their range of motion and say they move easier in their daily lives."  -  Wow, that's a great result! Congratulations!.

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Kathryn Morris
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May 4, 2023 - 6:44 pm
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Module 10

Applying the anatomy of a Thai massage move to my regular massage and yoga practice is helping me move better and has improved my sessions with myself and my clients. I am also been using those principles with my daughter when we play to improve her balance (move from the hara, connect your breath, build your foundation for movement).

This spinal twist feels wonderful for all of my clients. I feel on some of them the need to continue the massage up the spine or into the shoulder/rib area to release more of the restrictions and am excited for when we get to those moves so they can feel complete. I am pleasantly surprised at how far many clients can go on the adductor stretch as well as how quickly range of motion improves. Stretching the adductors this way has been easier on my and my client's bodies while also seeing more improvement than with other stretching methods. The cross-body hip stretch has helped with many low back issues. In general, the concept of hip pie has made my hip stretches more effective while the anatomy of a Thai massage move has made it significantly easier to perform the stretches. 

Can the blood stop be performed on someone that has had a by-pass surgery on the femoral artery that is 2+ years post-operation?

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Kathryn Morris
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May 4, 2023 - 6:45 pm
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Module 11

I love that you said it should be “like a dance” because in my last session, before I even watched this, I was like oh I love this it’s like we are dancing! I love watching how this video matches up with what I have been doing and thoughts I have been having. When you said remember the concept of what can you do with the foot, I have been applying that to my table massages and using it any time I feel stuck or lost on the mat. My previous training makes me confident that I can keep going and give a great Thai massage even if I don’t know the exact move so long as I keep the principles in mind, what can you do with this part, connect your breath, use correct body mechanics, lean don’t push, focus on the client and hara, feel/assess, and energy transfer. It is somehow complex and simple all at the same time, like a beautiful flowing dance.

 

I had forgotten about the push and pull circle move, and I remember really liking that one. I am going to go back to review the moves again. I really like the way you opened the session and would like to practice that particular flow in order to get a feel for good flow and how to connect my movements. Flow is the area I sometimes still struggle with though my clients tell me I am improving.

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Shama Kern
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May 5, 2023 - 6:32 am
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"Can the blood stop be performed on someone that has had a bypass surgery on the femoral artery that is 2+ years post-operation?"  -  It is advisable to err on the side of caution if there is any condition that might cause a problem with a particular technique. You don't have to do every technique on every client. There are plenty of techniques to choose from, and there is nothing wrong with skipping some.

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Kathryn Morris
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May 6, 2023 - 11:18 pm
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Module 12

Grouping stretches – when to use which one – match technique to size of therapist vs size of client – match technique to amount of power needed for flexibility and size

Version 2 calf stretch is most comfortable for my body for most body sizes and allows for a wide range of power and flexibility levels – use when the project is in the feet or lower leg, or as a warm up for other versions

Version 3 calf stretch is great for more flexible/less tight clients that need the deeper stretch for the entire back of the leg, difficult on clients with really long legs because their foot is well above my head – use when the project is in the hamstring or entire back of leg

Version 4 of the calf muscle stretch feels really good to most clients especially those with lumbar pain or uneven hips, this stretch is visible up the entire spine, this version flows very nicely with sacrum moves and is the most beneficial for clients working on lumbar pain and restriction. – use when the project is at, the hip or low back level and lower legs aren’t overly tight

Version 1 is the least comfortable and I do not tend to use it.

The transition from version 4 to the double knee to chest stretch is difficult with extra tall clients where my hands don’t reach to the back of the knee or clients that are very heavy, though I feel like the difficulty with heavy clients will improve as my strength improves. I have noticed that some clients’ knees prefer to fall out and it takes effort to hold their knees together.

These clients state they feel the stretch with their knees out in their hips, while they feel it in their low back with knees together. The higher the feet on your body the stronger the stretch because you can use more body weight and because the hamstring is being more elongated, I have noticed this is felt more in the muscle belly while the gentler version is felt more at the attachment. Doing a solid intake to understand what the client's goals, needs, and/or wants for the session also help determine which stretches or types of movements to do.

Is there any point where you would recommend suggesting a client see a therapist that is closer to their size? I have one client in particular that I make it work with, but I have had to adjust almost every move due to size. For example, the moves where you stand with your feet against the hips and the client's upper leg against your lower leg are especially enjoyable for this person, but due to their width causing my stance to be so wide and their leg length, their knees are ¾ of the way up my thigh.

The step-through straight leg stretch has made every person make noises of release and happiness and is everyone’s favorite. They always smile and say their back and hips feel so much better. I have noticed that sometimes knees lock (typically in clients with a tendency to lock or hyperextend their knees/clients with hypertonic quads) and it is difficult to get the knees to bend.

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