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Kathy Pabst - Complete Thai Massage -Course notes
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Kathy S Pabst
Atlanta, GA
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December 27, 2020 - 6:46 pm
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Module 1

I really enjoyed this first session. I have been practicing Thai Massage for probably 5 years now, not super consistently, but things are beginning to take off and I am super excited to put more 'tools on my belt' to help my clients even more. 

I got a lot out of the breathing and body positioning. As a yoga instructor, I tended to focus more on their breath than my own. This helped them release more into a stretch and/or relaxation. I practiced on a new client and focused on my breath too and it made the whole massage experience better for both of us. It also helps me to keep myself centered on my intentions, especially as clients start to chat with me while getting their massage. 

The body positioning was great as well. I knew that this is all supposed to feel easy in my body as I move their body, but sometimes I found myself shaking and could tell I was not positioned correctly. I couldn't seem to point out what I was doing 'wrong'. Your input on body alignment was helpful. If I don't feel at ease in my body position, now I evaluate my alignment and fix that before moving on with the massage.

I am truly excited and pleased I signed up for this course and look forward to learning and practicing these techniques.

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Kathy S Pabst
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December 27, 2020 - 6:53 pm
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Module 2

I practice the Chi machine on my client the other day and she loved it! I was excited that I was able to do it properly and get her entire body rocking. She commented on how the movement felt good in her body and she could feel energy flowing. She is more body aware as she is also a yoga instructor and massage therapist and personal trainer. She gave great feedback. 

I then practiced it on my husband. He is bigger than her so I was again pleased I could perform this movement on his body correctly. He did not give as much feedback, but he is not as body aware. He did say it felt nice. I also felt more comfortable in my movements the second time around and felt like I could continue rocking him around longer. Next up will be to practice on my kids.

Now, to find someone to practice this on me so I can feel it. That would be wonderful! Cool

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Shama Kern
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December 28, 2020 - 1:49 am
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Hi Kathy, welcome to our community and the Complete Thai Massage certification program. Please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification checklist to make sure that it is all correctly organized:

Certification Checklist

You have the perfect background for this course with your yoga and Thai Massage experience. Just the fact that you got the Chi Machine right is a good sign. This tends to be a real hurdle for many new course students to find the rhythm for this technique. So you are off to a good start. Smile

With your yoga background the breathing will come to you easily. This comes in very handy for quite a few techniques, as you will see.

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Kathy S Pabst
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December 29, 2020 - 5:06 pm
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Module 3

I am enjoying the additional footwork I am learning. I really enjoy the ankle stretch technique to rotate the foot slightly inward. This seems to be more comfortable to the client too. As I lean over their feet, I can feel when the resistance begins so I know when to back off. Such and important stretch for healthy and flexible ankles.

The hip circles movement is also a bit different. Typically I only pull back on the ankle as I circle the leg around. To add in the press back into the foot as I continue my circles was received nicely and I'm excited to pursue this some more on my upcoming clients. 

Knowing how much a good foot massage can affect the entire body, I am excited to add these techniques into the massage. Having more options also helps me to give the client different experiences each time. 

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Shama Kern
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December 29, 2020 - 8:03 pm
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True, the more options we have, the better we can individualize and customize our work for particular clients. And it is also more fun for us to do this work if we have lots of options to choose from. It is harder to be creative if we don't have a lot to work with. Smile

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Kathy S Pabst
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January 9, 2021 - 6:24 pm
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Module 4

I have gone through this sequence a few times now and seem to be getting a little too much into my brain with it instead of going with the feel of the client and myself. I think because I'm trying to figure out how to fit it into what I already know/do and its getting my brain going too much. I plan to just focus on this along with Module 3 to make a nice 'flow' to feel all the foot work together and let that be my focus. 

I seem to get caught up on positioning of the leg for the kneading of the foot. Not sure why. Again, in my head. It doesn't have to be at 90 degree bend, its more a comfort position. I also worry I am pressing in too much, but my family is very ticklish and I've learned a firm touch helps with this. They aren't complaining though. 

Otherwise, as I continue to work through these above issues, I know my clients will enjoy the work. I like the ankle circles to finish up with. Many are tight in the ankles and this is a nice and simple addition. I watched the video again and feel more confident. I look forward to working on it again later today/tomorrow.

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Kathy S Pabst
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January 9, 2021 - 6:53 pm
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Module 5

I really like the idea of a specific warm up for the legs and love that it is all similar moves as to the foot work. The main issue I noticed is that it is a warm up. I was going in a little too heavy and got a reaction for it. Maybe I also went in a little too quickly and heavy. If I slow down and sink in more, it may be received more. But, I finally learned to go in lightly and think that will be very helpful. We start warm ups slow and steady not hot and heavy. Good lesson for me.

The foot block is genius! So easy and surprisingly does not squish their leg at all. I do seem to struggle with the blocking with the knee on the calf. I worry I'll put too much pressure there accidentally. This seems to be a positioning issue. I think as I continue working and enjoying the flow of the warmup, I'll feel more comfortable. 

I will have to remember that I don't have to do all of this and just work on what feels comfortable and right for me. As I settle into being more open to just doing what feels right for the client in the moment, I will enjoy the flow and they will benefit more as well.

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Shama Kern
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January 9, 2021 - 8:26 pm
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You seem to know exactly what your issues are and what the solutions are. Smile

True, going in heavy on the warm up kind of defeats the purpose of it. Often it is more difficult to work in a gentle and subtle way than going in heavy. It's best to learn to work gently, slowly, and with feeling. Once you are good at that, it is quite easy to increase speed and pressure when it's called for. But the other way around doesn't work well. If you learn power moves, that doesn't mean that you are able to work subtly and gently.

It is much harder to feel what's going on in the client's body when you do power moves. But when you work more gently, you can focus much better on listening with your hands or other body parts instead of just doing something with them.

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Kathy S Pabst
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January 16, 2021 - 9:17 pm
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Module 6

I took your advice from my previous post about going in slowly and mindfully as I worked on my newest client and it was great. 

I like the leg warm up with the forearms. I feel like I have a little more control and it makes sense in my head. The groin work is so good and necessary. I'm hoping this also helps with releasing some tension around the psoas as many clients have issues with this area. Its always interesting as well to notice where people are tender in different areas of the IT band/outside of the leg.

As I worked on a few family members and my new client with the forearm warm-up, some were tensing up as I went into certain areas expecting it to be tender or painful, but as I started slow and gentle, the relaxed and opened up to the work. This will be a good addition for me with leg warm ups.

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Kathy S Pabst
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January 16, 2021 - 9:34 pm
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Module 7:

The hip evaluation came in handy with my new client as well as my daughter. My newest client is having a lot of psoas/piriformis issues and fear residing in her body/mind. I loved having this extra and new knowledge to work on her more effectively. Due to her fear issues, I told her what I was going to do as I changed positions and areas of the body, which truly helped her relax more into it as well. I followed my breath more this time as well and the whole massage felt so therapeutic. She felt really good when finished.

With the hips being different for each person, I like the options presented. If the inner thigh stretch is too much, then I can do the rocking. Support under the knee is always helpful and helps the client relax a bit more into the work. Feedback on the thigh pull is always good, but this time working on the woman with the psoas issues, it was really enjoyable. I was taught this in my previous training, but not to do it at an angle like you instructed. I love the way the whole body responds when doing it this way and know the stretch is even nicer. Although, the knee circles at the end feels clunky to me. I'll need to work on that a bit more.

Thank you!

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Shama Kern
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January 16, 2021 - 11:05 pm
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Often just a shift in one's mindset can totally change how a session feels to both the therapist and the client. And having options to choose from in Thai Massage is what helps us to turn it into a creative art.

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Kathy S Pabst
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January 26, 2021 - 1:20 am
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Module 8:

The idea of the hip pie is very helpful to keep the mind on track and getting the hip through all ranges of motions. Keeps the though process conceptual as you mention rather than robotic. The reminder to stay in tuned with their body too was helpful. To observe their flexiblity, body tight, tightness, size... before determine the techniques to use. 

As I worked on my clients calf, she quickly mentioned how nice it felt and loved all the work and release. The options shown for tight hip joints was helpful as well. One of my clients has a lot of fear in her body, for me to introduce things slowly and gently with a rocking motion, especially in the hip area is very helpful for her. She is much more receptive to the work. Even without these issues, the rocking motion feels nice on the body.

I appreciate the different options available for the different sizes of bodies. While I am not short, my arms are on the shorter side. I've noticed some movements being more challenging due to this. I tried the other options and was able to relax into the work. I'm loving all the info on body placement and alignment. Very helpful to feel comfortable as I work. No more shaking when I'm in those odd positions. 

Thank you.

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Kathy S Pabst
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January 26, 2021 - 1:24 am
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Module 9:

"Must combine power and softness". So important and helpful mindset. Leaning in, but mindfully and not with all my power or even body weight, just gently feeling how the body responds. Beautiful.

Again, the rocking/bouncing options shown were great additions. Placing my elbow at my waist during the hamstring walk and press was a nice option. This way my body is helping power the stretch and press rather than using just the arm and lean. Was rather helpful. My client loved the hip/knee rocking as we transitioned into the spinal twist. She loved how it felt on her low back and sacrum. Great feedback for me.

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Shama Kern
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January 26, 2021 - 1:49 pm
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It appears that your yoga and Thai Massage background are giving you a big advantage in following this course. Many moves that tend to be more difficult for students seem to come to you quite easily, I notice. Smile

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Kathy S Pabst
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January 31, 2021 - 1:23 am
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I do believe my yoga and previous experience/training in Thai massage is a tremendous help so far!

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Kathy S Pabst
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January 31, 2021 - 1:23 am
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Module 10:

Enjoyed starting this with the Anatomy of Thai Massage and the 6 things to keep in mind. Good place to focus my attention. I've also been trying to focus on my 'hara' as I do random things throughout the day to bring more awareness to this space and energy source. 

Once again, the modifications provided for the different body sizes and flexibilities was amazing. I practiced the side lean stretch on my husband and he said he didn't feel much of a stretch, but I rewatched the video and remembered it is more of a twist than a stretch. I like the idea of the calf and ankle stretch, but I have been getting feedback for those that are more hyper-mobile in their knees, they feel like their knees are going to bed backwards and it is not comfortable. There are some other techniques where the knee is not supported and I'm getting same feedback for those. Do you have any input on how to work on these body types giving them the support they need?

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Kathy S Pabst
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January 31, 2021 - 1:26 am
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Module 11:

All I can say is beautiful. Watching you work on her was just beautiful. Like you said, just flowing and artful. Very inspiring.

I have practiced all the techniques in Section 1 as a big sequence twice now. I need to park myself here for a few more practice sessions before moving on. My transitions need to be smoothed out and more fluid. Also thinking how to work some of the techniques in with the training I already have mostly mastered. My brain will not be ready to move forward until I do that. 

Truly looking foward to getting a deeper grasp on Section 1 so I can move on to Section 2.

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Shama Kern
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January 31, 2021 - 2:15 am
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Hyper-mobile clients present specific challenges. It does not feel good for them nor is it good for them if their knees are 'hanging through'. In some cases you can use a pillow under the knees to prevent this issue and support the knee joint, but there is also nothing wrong with skipping certain techniques on such clients.

The motto is that 'the techniques are not meant to be fixed sequences, but options to choose from depending on the needs of the client'.

You should also avoid tractioning techniques on hyper-mobile clients, like pulling their arms might yank their arm out the socket, i.e. dislocate it. There is a section in the course with articles about contraindications.

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Kathy S Pabst
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February 4, 2021 - 6:20 pm
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Shama, is there a way to do the Chi Machine while supporting the back of the knees?

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Shama Kern
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February 6, 2021 - 11:47 am
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We have had several students who had this issue, and I always told them to try to support the knee with a pillow under it to prevent it from hanging through. But I have to admit that I have never tried this myself, so I don't know how practical or effective this is. When I had a case of significant hypermobility in the knee, I just skipped the Chi Machine technique.

I would think that a big pillow would create friction due to its large contact area and prevent the natural swing. It would probably be ideal to use something like those round cylindrical bolster pillows that are sometimes used on beds. They would not have a large area that creates friction. It's worth a try.

I have used these cylindrical pillows as support in the side position. The client 'hugs' the pillow which supports the position of the upper body, and the lower part of the long pillow goes under the bent leg to prevent the position from collapsing when you press on the hip. That works quite well.

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