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Laurie Novoryta's Heavenly Head Massage Course Notes
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Laurie Novoryta
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March 23, 2021 - 3:27 am
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Module 1

This may change over time, but I practiced these techniques on my massage table. I chose this approach for 2 reasons: I don't have a floor surface with a soft/flat, foam-type of foundation, and, I don't have great knees to be bending or sitting cross-legged or with my legs out. My partner is mid-40's male (~230 pounds), and has a great deal of work stress. He works in front of a computer, but also has frequent meetings throughout the day (mostly on Zoom). He occasionally gets headaches and is not familiar with head massage, so this is a new experience for us both.

As was mentioned in this video, I'm only used to incorporating head and neck massage at the end of a session for a few minutes. I always thought it could be spread out longer, but I lacked confidence in how to make this happen with what I learned in school, so I'm grateful for CE expansion. I agreed with the connection between massage and a meditative/energtic feel that benefits both client and therapist. I feel it's just as important to practice being present, just as much as it is important to understand physiology, techniques, and how client is responding.

Right away, my partner liked the shoulder compression waves...he was exhaling in a relaxed manner. It's funny how some techniques get lost over time - I realized that I don't use compression as much as I could. It sets a nice pace of introducing therapist to client, and connected our breath...quietly, not breathing loudly : ). It's always important to me not to exhale near a client's face, even if I'm not near their face, so during a head massage, I'm having to be that much more aware of my breath. Because my partner is larger than me, I had to set-up the table lower than I usually do so I could provide appropriate pressure. I don't think it will be something I have to be too aware of moving forward since I imagine I might be seated (on a chair) for future work. I didn't receive very detailed feedback here since we didn't complete much work together, but my partner felt calm and trusted my touch.

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March 23, 2021 - 1:25 pm
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Hi Laurie, welcome to the Heaven Head Massage certification program. At least it looks like you are doing this for a certificate. If so, we need a certification registration form from you so that we have your correct data on file and know which certificate you want. 

You can find the certification registration form on the certification tutorial page which you access by clicking on the Certification Information banner in the sidebar of your membership portal.

Also please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification checklist to make sure that it is all correctly organized:

Certification Checklist

It sounds like you had a good start with the course! Smile

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Laurie Novoryta
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March 23, 2021 - 11:44 pm
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Module 2

Oooh, I was very excited for sternum work. I remember in school that this area was a small part of our content, but I loved when this area was worked on during class. My partner is male, so I didn't have to be as cautious as is needed with females and breast tissue. However, he doesn't have a flat chest. Through weightlifting, he has raised pectoralis muscles, so it just shifted how I was getting to this area without causing stress to my thumbs or fingers. I ended up striking a nice balance.

My partner was very patient. I watched the video pre-session, but also played it on low volume during the session to help guide (otherwise, I would've been stressed by trying to remember, or looking to notes). This made me feel like I was in a live course. My partner zoned out, so it was ok. During lecture portions, I kept my work going from what I was doing before lecture. My partner enjoyed the work on the sternum as I followed his breath. I noticed he started breathing slower about 1 minute in. He let out an 'ahhh' in the first time I worked between the ribs. I used the whole-handed technique with circular movement, and the 'horizontal scrubbing' with the side of my palm. It felt like a nice way to close out the previously direct work of thumb compressions. My partner didn't really know how to share feedback on this – he said he didn't really know what to compare it to, and seemed to be a bit unsure of how to express his experience. He said he felt relaxed and enjoyed it...that his chest felt more open. He recognized he was 'a bit tight' before the session. I know he was feeling rested because he started to breathe deeper, as he does when he's about to fall asleep.

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March 24, 2021 - 1:18 am
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Those are signs of good work. Most people won't be able to compare it with anything since hardly any therapist works this area, so they have no reference point.

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Laurie Novoryta
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March 25, 2021 - 4:57 pm
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Module 3
The wave-like compressions around the top of sternum and by AC joint were tender on my partner – he completed an upper body workout yesterday. I wasn't pressing hard, but I shifted to be a bit lighter in pressure. He enjoyed the push-pull technique with the pectoralis major. I liked doing this body work with the waves - it created a nice flow for me. For the push & release of shoulders – I hadn't thought to transition between weight on both to weight on one. I would've gone right to weight on one to the other. Working on the table, I had a bit of a difficult time with the stretch when crossing arm over body & pulling body over. I placed my right knee on the table while pulling to the right. My partner said that it felt nice, so I think I just need to feel more comfortable with this.

Separately, I understand why the circular techniques might be enjoyed by women with larger breasts, but I did not understand why women with smaller breasts or "bony" people wouldn't enjoy it as much. I feel like anyone may enjoy if they do weightlifting for this muscle group, and that anyone with tight chest muscles/stretched upper back muscles would enjoy.

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March 26, 2021 - 2:12 am
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What I mentioned about women with smaller breasts and bony chest areas is just an observation based on the feedback of many of my clients. This doesn't mean that it is less beneficial for them or that it should not be done on them. It just works better if there is more tissue to move around and it tends to feel better in such cases. 

By all means, try it on everyone and see what feedback you are getting. None of this is written in stone.

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Laurie Novoryta
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March 27, 2021 - 8:49 am
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Module 4
My partner experiences neck tightness pretty consistently from holding stress there and computer work. He's also starting to get RA in his hands, so I wouldn't be surprised if he as starting to get RA in his neck too. Anyways, into techniques...I felt comfortable with the head cradling/lifting/flowing, though it took some practice to get into a flow. I used the table again, so I didn't have the additional step to lift shoulders with my feet. But, I think I'll try this later on the floor for a short period of time (I don't have a soft floor area & my knees can't handle constant kneeling). My partner really enjoyed all 4 techniques (and nodded off a bit), and I enjoyed all of these because it was slow enough work that I was thoroughly able to understand what was happening in his body. There were some trouble spots between C3 and C6. After about 10 minutes of practicing and repeating these techniques, his neck felt warm and the muscles felt looser. He actually took a short nap after the session because he was so relaxed!

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March 27, 2021 - 12:06 pm
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Soon you will have a large selection of techniques available to deal with neck stress. I have done many exclusive neck sessions of up to one hour with the material in this course with excellent results. Neck work is actually the largest component of the HHM course.

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Laurie Novoryta
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March 29, 2021 - 12:41 am
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Module 5
On the topic of hair...my partner has very mild case of alopecia (minor loss in patches). We weren't working in those areas of his head during the massage, but the little research I did on this, it seems scalp massage can benefit alopecia...? Regardless, I'll have to practice these techniques on people with long hair. I'd hate to be relaxing during massage and have the therapist continually pull on strands - ouch! Similarly, I'd lose trust if the therapist wasn't protecting my neck. If there was an unexpected drop, or jerking me around, I would have to verbalize my dislike for it, and need them to move away from work in that area. My partner loved the work with squeeze & pull back/squeeze & circle. He thought that, to some degree, he might be able to do this on his own, so he tried this a bit after the session. I enjoy the slow speed of this work, and think this helps bring a client to a state of relaxation.

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March 29, 2021 - 1:45 am
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I can't state with certainty that scalp massage is good for alopecia, but common sense tells me that stimulation and improved circulation of the scalp has to be beneficial. After all, this is the principle for massage in general.

Unexpected drops and jerky movements of the head are terrible for clients and that's why I make it very obvious in this course that this has to be avoided which is not hard to do with a bit of skill.

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Laurie Novoryta
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March 31, 2021 - 4:33 am
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Module 6
I love all these wave motions - the technique of lifting and pulling back into the occipital ridge was enjoyable for me (and my partner!). I always find that recurring techniques increase my trust with the therapist and create a sense of calm. So, I did this wave slowly for a minute or so. It took me a few tries to get the technique done correctly where I'm sliding my fingers into the occipital ridge and inching up the heel of my hands to protect the neck and begin again. It felt a bit more intuitive after some practice. In the optional technique to drop the head while keeping index finger at occ. ridge, my partner was 'holding' his neck a bit. So, I transitioned to some of the wave moves and tried again, but he held again. Instead, I described to him what I was going to do, and he trusted my techniques, and I was able to do this. He wasn't really aware he was protecting his neck and keeping me from moving through the technique.

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March 31, 2021 - 6:15 pm
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This can happen quite a bit that people are holding against you during neck massage. Sometimes it is enough to just tell the client to relax. Or sometimes I ask "Do you realize that you are tensing your neck? Can you try to relax it?" I try to work with them and involve them in the process so that they recognize that they resist and work with me to release it.

Apparently you are doing just that! Smile

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Laurie Novoryta
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April 3, 2021 - 4:14 am
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Module 7
The direction you provided was good for the sideways stretch and roll. It looked like it might be awkward with the arm crossover and providing support while also moving the other arm, but it felt pretty comfortable. I did have to be aware of my body mechanics because there was a lot of movement and various actions happening. These techniques loosened some neck tension for my partner. He felt like the area was more relaxed immediately after these several minutes as I practiced the movements.

It took some time for me to achieve a comfortable flow for the side stretch with opposite traction to neck and face. It was similar to patting you head and rubbing your stomach – it's just a new movement in my body. But, my partner liked how it felt, even early on when I felt odd going through the actions.

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April 3, 2021 - 3:52 pm
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The move feels a bit confusing at first - but that's good for the client. If they are confused, they won't resist it as much because they don't know exactly what's coming - it's not a predictable move. Smile

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Laurie Novoryta
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April 5, 2021 - 4:03 am
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Module 8
With the first movement, I again needed to practice patience with myself. It took some getting used to, as I pushed my partner's head in one direction and his neck in the other. I tried to think of it like a leaf or something swaying in the wind gracefully. For a variety of reasons, I like using rocking techniques during a session, but I never would have thought to do rock/wiggle the neck (moving toward the chin). I would have thought that this might feel jarring for the client, my my partner enjoyed it. I have never had this done to me, and he wasn't comfortable trying it on me, so I don't know how it feels. I wish I could clone myself and practice on myself : )

I imagine that some techniques in the first half of this session might not be liked by some clients, so I agree that communication is key. Clients have different needs and comfort levels, and that's definitely true with the head/neck area. Lastly, my partner loved the slight neck traction on the occipital ridge. I think that this would feel lovely after all of the stretches.

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April 5, 2021 - 12:02 pm
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"a leaf swaying in the wind gracefully" - I like that description! Smile

I know the feeling about wanting to experience it yourself. I have the same problem. When you know something unique, it can be hard to find someone who is good enough at it to give you the real experience of it.

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Laurie Novoryta
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April 6, 2021 - 6:45 am
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Module 9
I've continued here with working on a massage table, which means that I didn't have to figure out comfortable placement of my legs. I really don't think I'd be comfortable on a 30-60 minute session while on the floor, but with all things, I guess it would just take some getting used to. On to the techniques – I loved seeing these ear techniques because I can do them on myself too! It's nice to have that opportunity, in order to better understand how these feel. My partner loved these – partially because they felt great, but also for the same reason as me – he can do some of these on himself.
I appreciated how you pointed out the need to turn the index finger in some of these techniques. You are right – turning makes a big difference. This really makes me thing differently about how to use my 'tools' differently, especially in small spaces. It seems obvious, but I really don't think I've done this before, whether with thumb, heel of hand, fingers together, etc. It's also easier to turn a single finger, than to maneuver an elbow, per se. Hmmm, things to test out.

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April 6, 2021 - 4:04 pm
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No doubt that doing a lot of Heavenly Head Massage work is more comfortable on a table unless you are quite flexible and comfortable on the floor. I recorded this course in Thailand where neither I nor anyone else I knew owned a massage table. Real massage tables are rarely used in Thailand except for some fancy spas.

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Laurie Novoryta
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April 8, 2021 - 12:11 am
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Module 10
This module actually displayed techniques that I originally imagined might be in a head massage course. I've been surprised by how much more expansive the course is! In any case, these were enjoyable to practice, and pretty easy to become familiarized with. Some of these were similar to what I've received during shampoos pre-haircut. I love them! The variation of speeds is so pleasing to the nervous system. There are added benefits when working with one hand, and holding the head with the other. It's a nice mix of techniques and a calming/stable presence. With all that said, my partner really enjoyed this work. Unlike me, he hasn't experienced this in a hair salon, so these were pretty new to him.

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April 8, 2021 - 1:27 am
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I know, Heavenly Head Massage is a lot more than Head Massage! Actually there is more neck massage material in it than head massage material. But I could not come up with a name that includes everything in it.

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