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Laura Sprague - Complete Thai Massage Course
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Laura Sprague
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July 5, 2021 - 11:13 pm
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Module 1

I enjoyed this module for the second time, as I just decided to enroll for International Certification today and I've been doing the coursework for many months.  It is good that you instructed not to post long after viewing each video and practicing, because it requires me to go back and practice what I learned before in a more intentional way.  

One of the things I appreciate so much about this course, and which I like about this first module, is the emphasis on energy:  the way it flows through the movements and ultimately through the breath, how it connects us to our clients and how much they feel just based on the energy we're putting out.  This is a refreshing shift from the Western-based world of personal training which at its worst stresses anatomy above all else to the detriment of movement, regardless of energy.  I want my clients to FEEL great in their bodies.  I have learned many techniques over the years through books and media and one Thai massage therapist with whom I traded ideas for a few years, also tools and positions, so these bits were familiar to me.  Ergonomics are something around which I base much of my training - efficiency and ease of movement - so I love learning more about this always.  (Side note: I tried giving someone a stretch session on a table once after years of stretching people on the ground, and it was so hard!  Wore out my arms.). In later lessons I have gained so very much from all the ergonomics coaching, and as a result I feel much more relaxed as I work.

The idea that we are doing a dance together is probably my favorite concept, something I have experienced exactly so.  Guided by the breath, moving with your partner, feeling your way through the dance and truly connecting - this is healing at its best for me.  Today when I see my friend for our session I will be focusing on connecting through the breath and feeling where she is today.  

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July 6, 2021 - 3:38 am
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Hi Laura, welcome to the Complete Thai Massage certification program! Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with our Certification Checklist to make sure that it is all correctly organized:

Certification Checklist

It sounds like you really resonate with the principles laid out in module 1. I remember that you had enrolled in the course quite a few months ago, so by now you probably have gone through quite a bit of it, and this time around will be a reminder to some degree. Many of our students say that when they re-watch modules, they always pick up some things that they had missed previously.

With your yoga and stretching background, this course should fit you like hand-in-glove. Smile

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Laura Sprague
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July 7, 2021 - 12:48 am
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Module 2

With this module I must say again I appreciate the emphasis on the art, the dance, and the beauty of this practice.  I get excited about lines and angles, so I do tend to overemphasize form and position and then I lose touch with my client's energy and my own.  Reminding myself that we are dancing together is really helpful. It makes me relax, then it all feels better.  This organic approach is already improving how I work with people, even before we start the body part.  

The Chi Machine is a great way to start a session!  I had been doing it since I watched the video a few months ago, however I was only doing it for a few seconds.  After reviewing I did it with my client for over a minute and they really liked it.  They did not feel tingly, they just felt good.   I enjoyed it, too, as long as I was relaxed.  When I started worrying about my pace and my method and everything, then everything stiffened up.  Remembering to breath and thinking about relaxing made all the difference.  Also the hold at the end let my client shift gears and settle down into her body.   

Side note:  for this particular client, with whom I've worked for years, the rocking is novel and delightful!

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July 7, 2021 - 6:47 am
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So true, if we get too much caught up in the technical aspects, it is hard to feel the flow and the art of it.

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Laura Sprague
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July 12, 2021 - 10:29 pm
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Module 3

As I review these lessons and speak about it with my personal training clients, I find they are so very willing to receive Thai massage and let me practice!  So I've gotten to go over these moves a whole lot.  The very hardest one for me is the inward rolling of the whole foot/leg before the smaller foot twists - I think maybe I'm expecting more movement at the hip or something. It always feels stiff to me, no matter the client's flexibility.  My initial rocking/circling/rolling feet outward move is getting smoother now as I squeeze the foot more and circle my body a bit smaller and faster than I had been.  It's still a little awkward doing the ankle flexion/extension by leaning forward, although when I do it correctly it really makes it so much easier (ergonomics, hurray!).  I really appreciate all the reminders to focus on it feeling good, on relaxing myself so my client can relax, and that you could 'just keep circling on the foot like that and nothing else and that they will love it' - all of this points me back to my intuitive attention and breathing focus instead of being in my mind.  I enjoy working on feet because almost everyone loves it and I always feel like I could spend more time there.  I would love to give some individual attention to the toes when I get more advanced. 

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Laura Sprague
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July 12, 2021 - 10:54 pm
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Module 4

Everyone loves the foot work and every foot is a little different!  As I practice the 8 directions of the feet it is interesting to observe the increase or decrease of tension in the client's face or breathing.  My clients with bunions remind me with their subtle changes in body language that their feet may be more tender than they are telling me, so I back off, and I encourage feedback.  I remind them that everyone is different so I very much welcome their subjective experience to make it will feel even better!  

The conceptual way of learning works quite well for me.  It is logical and helps me flow, because instead of thinking what came next in the instructional video I'm thinking, "what way have I not moved this foot yet?"  On the other hand I do like knowing that there are 8 primary ways because then I can count as I go.  I probably will not leave out a direction on feet even if the clients needs shoulder work mostly, just because it seems so constructive!  As a trainer I see calves and feet being the primary areas of restricted movement in a majority of clients; in fact I have never assessed someone who did not have limited ankle movement, not even a six-year-old or a pro basketball player (my two most "fit" clients 🙂 ).  

(Where I got to in the series before I started doing the certification process was the beginning of "Prone," where we are working on the feet again, this time on the underside.  I'm looking forward to putting it all together for the whole foot experience.)

It is interesting to notice, when twisting the foot, where the tension collects on a person with flat foot or with high arch.  I know technically why this is and which muscle lines are involved, however this twisting sheds a whole new light on the foot, a light perceived with my hands.  Feeling the tension patterns and how they change with each angle is so fascinating to me!  

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July 12, 2021 - 11:23 pm
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Laura, when I read your comments about the foot work, I can't help but thinking that you would really enjoy our Thai Foot Massage and Reflexology course which just happens to be on sale until tomorrow night. There is a discount coupon for $50 off the price. The coupon code is DISCOUNT50 which is applied on the checkout page.

This course goes much more into depth and detail with foot issues. You would not only learn tons of additional techniques, but you would be able to do stand-alone foot massage sessions and also deal with specific foot problems like bunyons etc.

Take a look here: Thai Foot Massage And Reflexology

This might be $97 very well spent.

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Laura Sprague
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July 14, 2021 - 11:47 pm
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Module 5

I just wrote the whole post and now I can't see it, so I'm posting Module 5 again.  I hope that doesn't happen often - please tell me if I did something differently if you can see that on your end.  I posted it, then I saw your response to my last module which was not showing when I posted the module 5 but showed up after I submitted.  When I used the link to buy the Foot Massage series, my module 5 notes disappeared.

When I reviewed Module 5 this morning I realized that I had really been skipping much of the warmup and going into the more intense thigh-leaning as a warmup instead.  It felt a little aggressive, so I'm glad that I went back and saw how much I was missing of the warmup!  When I tried to incorporate it later I found it awkward to roll the calf, that I was finding myself on the shin side instead of the calf side because I hadn't brought the knee up to 90 degrees.  I never use notes because my subjects are actually professional clients already who trust me with their  bodies - great situation, for sure! and it also means I just need to flow with it and figure it out so they have a stellar, rejuvenating experience regardless of which technique I omit.  I will have another session tonight and will practice this again and hopefully Modules 6 and 7 as well.

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July 15, 2021 - 4:59 am
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I noticed that you took advantage of the Thai Foot Massage course sale - good decision.

Regarding the disappearing text, that has happened to me too, and here is a video that shows you what to do about that:

How To Recover Forum Posts

I copy the text in my forum posts into my computer's memory every single time, and that has prevented and fixed this issue 100 percent.

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Laura Sprague
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July 20, 2021 - 12:10 am
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Module 6

Thank you for helping me with the lost notes problem!

I really like this lesson, probably because I use the forearm so much as a smaller person to add weight.  The notes on how to lean in correctly, fully relaxed, are treasures because my arm is quite sharp if I turn it on the edge and sometimes clients have winced.  The more I settle in to my breath, the more I feel myself relax then my client is relaxing as well.  

The rocking of the leg on top of my leg before starting the lean-ins is a very nice segueway because of the thigh pressure, and almost all of my clients have tight thighs (especially post workout, which is when many of my mini-sessions happen).  The technique where one hand pushes the other to lever the upper arm into the 2nd lateral sen line of the thigh is a little bit challenging and I think with more work I'll get the hang of leaning forward with my body instead of pressing.  I have strugged with how to get this line for years, and the technique is really cool.  

The lateral calf line demonstration made great sense with your description of the 45 degree angles; the mechanics of a perpendicular push are made clear, so I'm getting a strong pressure. I do have a little hard time leaning on the leg and blocking the foot in internal rotation with my knee so I need to figure out how the angles need to shift.  "Walking on the hamstring" at 90 degrees, inner thigh up, is one of my all-time favorite moves - my youngest child's absolute favorite in her soccer years- but I used to do just that, so the leg was not attended to on all sides.  

I am drawn to the idea of starting at the foot and working upward, and yet the information is not necessarily in my head like that yet, so like a dance I am currently working with the flow and seeing how I can make it smooth and wonderful, not worrying about it.  Your words that it needs to feel goooooood all the time are always present.  

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Laura Sprague
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July 20, 2021 - 12:29 am
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Module 7

Taking a moment to evaluate how the hips are opening or not naturally is something I need to remind myself to do in the beginning right after my Chi machine I think.  I usually end up comparing the sides as we move through, and how much time I could save exploring if I looked first.

I now realize I was jumping in to this lesson's material on the last notes about the hamstring walking technique (I reviewed those two videos in succession).  I'm pretty sure it's stuck in my head like that because I'm thinking about the hamstring pressure as a warmup technique, but it really is a stretch the way you show it.  The inner thigh butterfly press is one that I almost always need to support with a pillow, and I find myself doing the knee-cross-hip rocking for most everyone because they seem to like it and most people seem to need extra attention here without extra pressure.  If someone's inner thighs were extremely tight, now I have several techniques in my toolbox that address that progressively.  Review is such a good thing and I'm glad that it is necessary for me to go back because there are so many things I absorb the second time around, like on the thigh pull/rock where the person's knee is straight toward ceiling, bent at knee - just the detail of pulling it "across toward your opposite shoulder" has made it a whole different experience, one that makes my clients look happier.  🙂

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July 20, 2021 - 9:29 pm
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These are excellent, in-depth course notes. It is obvious that you are seriously working with the course material. I feel like I am sitting next to you watching you work. Smile

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Laura Sprague
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July 21, 2021 - 11:13 pm
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Module 8

The hip-pie is such a useful concept!  It really helps me keep organized in my flow, especially as I switch from one side to the other.  I'm curious if we start the 45 degree angles with the leg rotated outward because that's the most natural - that's my guess.

The many variations of the hamstring press straight up (12:00) are handy tools to have on hand as I am one of those shorter people who needs extra leverage sometimes.  I have a professional basketball player- supertall -that I train sometimes and when I lean on his hamstrings I stand up really tall and use my foot; for a medium-tall person I often use my shin/calf and lean in that way while holding the foot; for short folks like me I can use my hand, however I didn't really have one for that in-between person.  The forearm lean-in is that move!  It feels like the quadricep lean-in per intensity and in how much deeper the person's body will allow me to sink in if I am breathing easily and relaxed.  Also a problem with the way I had been doing it is that I was lengthening the hamstring just to do the technique, to get my leg in there, and that was quite often too much too soon.  The forearm hamstring technique is one I could give to almost everyone who walks in my door for training!  

Because I have seen the videos ahead, I'll say now that I am going to be more attentive this time when I'm watching all the different parts of the hip pie because when I've tried to recreate all 8 angles with the knee bent, then I start to do some of those angles with the leg straight, I realize I am missing some of the straight-leg techniques.  

I'm glad the notes work to paint a picture!  I figure the better picture I can give you, the more you can help me.

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Laura Sprague
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July 21, 2021 - 11:22 pm
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Module 8 addendum

One more thing about the hip-pie:

I have a dear friend and client who has started therapy for cancer, and her legs have been quite swollen.  She did a personal training session with me with my verbal guidance on stretches, and that was good, but the swelling was bothersome.  I know there are very particular guidelines for massage during oncological treatment, so the acupressure did not seem to be an option for us yet (at least not until I learn all about it), however the Chi machine seemed like it might really help done gently.  We did about an hour of just rocking moves for the lower body in most of the hip-pie positions, and it made her swelling go down significantly!

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July 22, 2021 - 12:48 am
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I agree with you on how you set up the session. Rocking is amazingly effective while being so gentle that you can almost never cause any discomfort (except for full-body rocking via the hip on people who tend to get 'sea sick' very easily, but those are pretty rare). Rocking can work when most other techniques do not in some cases.

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Laura Sprague
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July 27, 2021 - 11:41 pm
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Module 9 

Hip-pie continues, and I'm finding that with my size and weight relative to the clients it is so very important to get the angles of force clear in my mind so I can truly lean with my whole body.  

The parts of the hip-pie that challenge me the most are the 45 degree angles toward each shoulder, higher than the hip (10:30 and 1:30 if the person's head were 12:00 on a clock face).  I understand the angle in concept however getting the leg to go across toward the opposite shoulder pretty challenging to do in a relaxed fashion.  The angle of my short body to their leg is often challenging.  The easiest ones for me to understand and deliver are the 90 degree angles (9:00 and 3:00 in the clock face).    I like how this lesson gives extra attention to the adductors because almost all of the people I see have tight adductors which inhibit their strength goals of strong glutes.  Bouncing to warm it up, pressing with my arm or with my hand for a while before ever attempting to elephant-walk on the inner thighs is helpful - I find myself doing a minimum of 3 inner thigh techniques on most people!  I also really like the variation for short folks on the calf and hamstring where my shoulder pushes the leg in; I'm going to try it on my basketball player in a couple weeks.

The communication we have with our client about the intensity is key to establish early, like before the session starts, because it might feel disruptive to jump in when it gets intense and say, " now on the scale of 1-10, how intense is that?" although in practice I usually do the latter and most often because their breathing changed and prompted my question.   

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July 28, 2021 - 3:17 am
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The technique where you push the knee to the opposite shoulder is very intense for most people, and cannot be done on everyone. In many cases it is better to do it via more gentle rocking moves or via the technique where you circle the entire leg.

You should explain the 1-10 scale before the session and encourage the client to give you feedback based on that as soon as it becomes too intense. When doing potentially quite strong techniques, you should definitely ask the client during the session how strong it is on this scale. 

If you ask too much, it feels irritating to the client, but if you ask a few times during strong stretches, the client will appreciate it.

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Laura Sprague
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July 28, 2021 - 11:58 pm
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Module 10

Hello!  I'm enjoying the course so much.  Every day I am suggesting to my friends and clients that they might enjoy something I have recently learned, and this is a win-win.  Who doesn't love Thai massage, after all?  So I am getting lots of practice, not to mention building my Thai massage endurance!

In this lesson I found one really nice stretch for posterior adductors/hamstrings that I had missed the first time around (the deepest one, where the leg is on the ground and the foot in your hip with elephant walking the thigh), so that has been fun to practice when I get one of my flexible people. The stretches for the hip and spine with the knee extended, leg across the body, I like doing both of these and have been working on the angles for years now!  The lowest lateral short-head of the hammies gets so tight on everyone from sitting, and the first stretch really gets there.  I do have a question on this though, because in a couple weeks my pro bball player is coming back and he needs that stretch, however I've never been able to do the right angle because his leg is really almost as tall as me :).  So I usually block the person's body with my other leg or foot, but Devin is so wonderfully tall that I can't reach - what do you suggest?  I think I may need the same type of suggestions on the opposite stretch, the inner thigh/calf with the knee straight.  Maybe this is one of those times that I have to eliminate the stretch, I realize, however he needs the best and strongest stretches so hopefully there's a way!  

I'm hoping to travel with my stretching career and meld it with my training into some fantastic alchemy of special strengthening healing work.  The alternatives and options you recommend are so important to me and much appreciated because I would love to be able to help anyone in some way.

Also, side note, I did do the form for Foot Massage Certification but have not seen an email for the forum; can I just jump on the same way and start making notes about the lessons?

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July 29, 2021 - 9:38 am
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You are registered for the Thai Foot Massage certification program. Just start a new separate thread, and you can start posting there. For starting a new thread, click on 'Add Topic'. It's the same process as when you started this thread.

Regarding your question about the cross-over 270 degree stretch at minute 10 in the video - is that the one you are referring to? If so, why don't you try positioning his calf on your thigh instead of his foot? Then you remain closer to his stretched-out leg so that you can block it with your lowered knee.

Regarding the adductor stretch on the opposite side, what you can try to do is stand up instead of kneeling. That should give you a wider stance and might enable you to block his leg from sliding in with one foot while stretching the adductor with your other foot. I have actually never tried this since my legs are long enough that I don't have to do this, even on someone with long legs, but it is worth a try.

But there will always be cases where the size difference makes it too difficult to do certain stretches. First try to modify the technique, and if this doesn't work, then don't try to drive a square peg into a round hole. There are hundreds of techniques, and you will always find one that works in a similar way.

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Laura Sprague
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July 30, 2021 - 2:50 am
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Module 11

Thank you for your suggestions on those stretches for the tall client.  I also appreciate that you said "don't try to fit a square peg..." because I am inclined to do so. Laugh

Watching you do the flow was like watching a really long relaxing dance, a bit hypnotic in a good way.  I love it when I feel that flow in my sessions, and I expect to feel it more and more as the techniques start to settle in to my nervous system so I don't have to think too much.  Thinking can tense my body up!  

I'm enjoying rocking my clients when the stretches are too strong or when they seem tense.  It is nice to see the stress flow out of their faces and to feel the body loosening.  I notice alot of the traction moves do that, which is interesting to me because I personally feel uncomfortable (literally) with many traction moves because of overly-flexible joints!  Most people seem to love it, though, and to be fair most of the traction I experienced was from a physical therapist who does not have "softness" as his mantra.  

Years ago a client told me that our stretching sessions felt like a dance to them.  I'm encouraged that I was on the right track; now I've got to figure out how to pare down these many choices so my sessions are not continuing to expand.  At one hour I always feel like we are stopping half-way through.  Watching you do the flow more will hopefully help me blend things together for fluidity and efficiency.  Looking forward to the next set of modules.

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