January 17, 2014
I couldn’t change my display name for some reason. I don’t think I’m as tech savvy as I think I am. I am already behind schedule but I wanted to figure out how to use the forum before I started the course. I signed up for the CE credits and activated the test so I will watch the first video now. I need to line up a variety of people to work on. I will be practicing mainly on my 10 year old son but am curious about the ergonomics of working on someone heavier.
January 17, 2014
I just finished the first module. Reminders about ergonomics are always so important. Our bodies will let us know that we are not using correct ergonomics but we don’t always listen to our bodies until it is too late. I like the idea of connecting the breath to the movements. I think a sort of entrainment occurs when we breathe calmly. If we pay attention we might notice that our client’s breath begins to slow as ours does. As always, it’s about being present.
Maybe I should just change my username to “woman with 1000 questions” now and get it over with but I do have a couple of questions already. I dug out a book on Thai Massage and Shiatsu (that I’ve never read) and am wondering if the style we are learning is Northern or Southern style Thai Massage? Also how would you describe the differences between Shiatsu and Thai massage? Thank you for your guidance.
January 17, 2014
Finished Module 2 can’t wait for Jack to get home from school today so I can practice it on him. I need to buy some mats. Does anyone have suggestions? I would prefer something thick (I was thinking of a thick futon mattress) but would be interested in hearing from someone who has practiced this about what type of mat to purchase. Does it detract from the practice if the mat is too thick or soft? The chi machine technique looks like it could be very relaxing.
January 17, 2014
Jack loved the Chi machine. Of course since he’s 10 and a boy he had to add sound effects. It was easier than I thought but next time he has to wash his feet before I work on him. Boys. I also tried it on my daughter and it was different with someone heavier. When I lift the legs up am I still moving from the hips (mine) or from both arms and hips?
Hi Lea, welcome to our forum. Regarding your 1000 questions, you are in the right place. As of last count I have answered 1335 forum posts, so I can handle a few more.
In regards to your question about northern or southern style, I have written an article that sorts all this out. You can read it here:
Regarding the differences between Thai Massage and Shiatsu, there is a lot of overlap. There are several styles which have lots of similarities, like Thai Massage, Shiatsu, Breema, Tui Na, and yoga therapy – basically all Asian modalities.
There are differences of course. When talking about Shiatsu, there are also several styles of Shiatsu which differ among themselves. So we have to generalize a bit here.
Personally I have studied Zen Shiatsu, so I can talk about this based on actual experience. I have also traded many sessions with Shiatsu practitioners.
First you have to look at this with a bit of historical understanding. Thai Massage has a much more colorful history since it became popular during the Vietnam war as a come-on for sexual services for the US soldiers who spent their vacation time here. Since then Thai Massage has always been offered in a variety of ways, ranging from thinly veiled prostitution to highly effective therapy. And so it is up to this day. Many Thai women have exported the more questionable variety of Thai Massage all over the world, and at the same time there was an explosion in the interest for genuine Thai Massage worldwide.
Shiatsu never had this history. It was always considered a strictly therapeutic modality, at least in the western world. This means that Shiatsu training has generally been more extensive and comprehensive. This also had the effect that it never became as popular as Thai Massage. There is no huge influx of tourists who go to Japan to study Shiatsu.
Shiatsu is not generally regarded as something exciting, exotic. Although it is an excellent massage modality if done right, interest in it has been declining whereas interest in Thai Massage is going up.
You can very easily confirm this by yourself. Just go to http://www.google.com/trends/. Then type “Shiatsu” in the search bar and you will get a line which has been sloping down for the last decade. Then type “Thai Massage” in the search bar, and you will see the exact opposite, a line which has been sloping upwards for the last decade.
Thai Massage however has become a real tourist attraction in Thailand and there is a lot of shallow and watered down training offered here in Thailand and in the western world as well. In other words there is a wide range of training for Thai Massage and a lot of it is tourist training quality material.
This course, Complete Thai Massage, teaches Thai Massage at the highest standard and with more detail and depth than you will find in the vast majority of Thai Massage schools.
Shiatsu focuses a lot on the meridians and at least Zen Shiatsu uses what is called the “hara diagnosis”, meaning that it diagnoses the entire body from several points in the abdomen. These points are not physically related to other areas in the body, but energetically.
Thai Massage uses the Sen line system which is clearly similar, however the approach of working with the Sen lines is different from the Shiatsu system. Also Thai Massage has no hara diagnosis. Thai Massage has a much bigger repertoire of stretches since it has a closer relationship with yoga than Shiatsu.
Thai Massage is often called “Applied Yoga”. This element is not so present in Shiatsu. There are still many similarities between the two systems, and there are quite a few techniques which are similar or almost identical.
What all this means for your business is that because of the perceived exotic nature of Thai Massage and its growing popularity it is much easier to make a good living with it. It is in high demand all over the world, and most spas are scrambling to find Thai Massage therapists. This is not the case with Shiatsu.
There are other differences between the two systems, but this should give you some idea.
Regarding mats, don’t use a very thick and soft mat. It will make it harder for you to keep your balance and it will make good ergonomics more difficult. It is better to use a mat which is comfortable, but firm.
January 17, 2014
Shama, Thank you for the explanation of the differences between Shiatsu and Thai Massage. I am sure they will become more apparent as we progress in the course since I have studied Shiatsu when I was in Massage School. I have never had much call for it over the years that I have practiced and it never called my name the way CranioSacral did.
I cleaned out a room and set up a mat with some quilts on it so that I can easily practice every day. The mat isn’t large enough for me to kneel on all the way around but it will be ok for now and I will use some pillows to kneel on.
I just finished module 3 (watched it several times) and practiced it on Jack and my daughter Shania (who’s 18). It is definitely going to take some time to get used to the routines and to incorporate the flow. I may be overthinking it right now because I want to get it right. I am really glad we have a few days to practice between modules. I am going to work on my son Joe tonight (he’s 22 and 6’2″ so it will give me a heavier body to practice on. I am taking notes as I go along because that helps me to learn. I am going to love Thai Massage. I have become a little burned out at doing Swedish Massage….I’ve done over 15,000 treatments and have had a very busy practice. I retired from that piece of it Jan. 1rst and am feeling like Thai massage will re-spark that desire to facilitate healing in others. So far I like the ergonomics of Thai massage and once I get the mechanics down will be able to relax into the massage and move intuitively.
I have a question about starting at the feet. In my practice I always work on the feet last because I don’t want to touch the face after I have worked on the feet (unless I wash my hands in between) I also feel that the majority of people carry most of their stress in the neck, upper traps, and shoulders so if I relax this area first then the rest of the massage can be more effective. I also believe (as you pointed out) that the foot massage is the most or at least a very important part of the massage because of all the reflexology points on the feet.
Do you think it would take away from the “authenticity” of the Thai Massage if I started with the head and neck and worked my way down? (I mean after I am done with the course and developing my own routines). I will certainly follow the routines as you have laid them out but was just thinking about down the road and was hoping you might have a comment on that.
January 17, 2014
I just wanted to comment about my practice last night on son Joe and my husband. I am only 5′ 3″ tall so I found it a little challenging to get the correct ergonomics for the move where my lower leg is supporting their leg under their knee. If the client has long legs (They’re 6′ and 6′-2″ tall) I’m wondering if I would be better off putting a pillow or bolster under their knee for that move and positioning myself differently? It felt a little awkward because I was almost reaching behind me or twisting to reach their feet. Will practice again tonight when everyone gets home.
Traditionally most Thai Massage sessions start with the feet. However there is one school here in Chiang Mai where they teach it the other way round, starting with the head and ending with the feet. There is one Canadian school where they start with the sitting position. So there really are no hard and fast rules here. Thai Massage is a very flexible system and can be adapted to your preferences easily. No problem if you want to change the flow of the session. You can always try it both ways and see what you feel most comfortable with.
My personal preference has always been to end with the head. I always use parts of my Heavenly Head Massage system as the conclusion of the session, and clients really love to have it end that way.
Regarding the pillow under the knee: Very short therapists working on very tall clients is always a challenging situation and often requires some modification or adaptation. Sure, you can keep a small and firm pillow handy and try that. You will also see that throughout the course I keep mentioning that the techniques are not mandatory sequences but options to choose from. So if one techniques just doesn’t work right for a particular person, there is nothing wrong with just skipping it. No point in driving a square peg through a round hole.
The overall rule is that it has to feel comfortable to you. You will find plenty of techniques which you won’t be able to use on everyone. So the art is to find out what techniques work on which clients and then choose accordingly. There are also many ways to adapt and modify techniques. You will see that as you progress in the course.
January 17, 2014
I just finished module 4 and it was a great review of the techniques from module 3. (Thanks for resending it. Not sure what the glitch was but it worked the 3rd time.) I like the new techniques and I really like the idea of learning these moves conceptually. It makes it so much easier to remember them when you break it down that way. My thumbs were feeling a little stressed so I asked my Yoga teacher (who has studied Thai Massage with you) if she experienced that at first and she said yes and to lighten up with the thumb pressure. I was a little worried that Thai massage was going to be finger and thumb intensive (like my experience with Shiatsu) and would really like to avoid stressing those joints. They’ve had enough over the last 11 years of doing massage. I will continue to be aware of body mechanics and will work on making it comfortable for me as well.
There is always a lot to think about in the beginning. I’m sure it will all come together. I’ve noticed that the pace (when you are not demonstrating a technique) is much faster than what I would expect. Is it ok to slow it down a bit or is Thai Massage always a bit faster? I am having fun with this so far and my family is loving the extra attention they receive when they get home.
I appreciate the fact that you present this in a way that is somewhat flexible. In the end we will make each session our own based on our clients needs and will bring our own unique touch to the massage but you are providing a great foundation of techniques to choose from. Thank you!
You will find more such helpful conceptual ways of remembering the techniques in this course. I will talk about preserving your hands quite a lot in this course. Also in the end there is a bonus module, Body Mastery For Massage, which will give you many very specific alternative ways to use your body in such a way that you don’t stress your thumbs or wrists.
Actually, in this course I have eliminated most of the thumbing techniques which are typically taught in most Thai Massage schools since they can be just too hard on your thumbs and hands.
In most instances, Thai Massage is better done more slowly than more quickly. I might go a little faster in the videos when demonstrating since I don’t want to extend the videos too much. But feel free to slow things down. This is almost always better than speeding it up which can feel insensitive and hurried.
By the way, with your last paragraph in your above post you hit the nail on the head! (Or to say it more professionally – you caught the essence of it)
January 17, 2014
I just finished module 5 but haven’t practiced the foot moves from Module 4 yet so I will combine it with the module I just finished. Jack should be home soon and I am setting up the footbath for a little extra TLC before working on him. We’ve had some days and nights that have been close to 30 degrees below zero with the wind chill so a warm footbath before some Thai massage can only be a good thing!
I want to tell you how much I appreciate your teaching style. It is very thorough and the pace allows me to take notes as I go so I have index cards with me as I practice. Thanks for letting me know it’s ok to slow things down. I think the client is much more relaxed that way and it allows me to get into a nicer flow. I call it ” the zone” Can’t wait to add the stretching piece! I don’t want to get behind on practicing. It’s a bit challenging for me to keep up with this and all my Yoga Certification homework and studies as well but it all blends together beautifully. I find myself always looking forward to the next module. Thank you for all the hard work you put into creating this course! You are a fabulous teacher and you have a very sweet way about you. When I watch you work it makes me wish I was in Thailand receiving a Thai massage from you. It’s all about the flow and being present.
January 17, 2014
Just a quick note about practicing with Jack tonight. He came home from school and as usual had a lot of energy to burn off so I did the footbath and then the footwork and leg warm ups that I have been learning. He started out fidgeting and twitching and by the time I got to the chi machine to close the session (maybe it was 15 minutes long??) his eyes were closed and he was peaceful. I cuddled up with him and just enjoyed him being at peace. I love this work. What a gift to be able to share this with my family. I know my clients will love this modality as well. Thank you!
January 17, 2014
We live in a very small rural town where people are not always open to Massage Therapy and I have spent many years educating my clients about the value of massage and CranioSacral work. You are blessed to live in a culture where families give each other massage as a matter of course and it is viewed as preventative health care. Sometimes I feel our culture here is far behind the times in terms of accepting and understanding just how valuable this work can be.
I am amazed at how much this work relaxes Jack. I worked on him again last night and he was asleep (as in slightly snoring asleep within MINUTES. I just finished module 6 with the forearm work and can’t wait to practice it tonight. Jack came home sick from school so I will have to practice on my son Joe. I find that it’s easier in one respect to practice on someone larger (more canvas to practice on) but it’s also harder to move them around and at the same time position myself.
I find that my knees hurt after a session. I hope that goes away. I need to get better mats so that I can move all the way around the client and still have mat under me. Module 6 had a lot of info in it….I hope I can remember it all when I go to do a session. I have to trust that I will be able to work intuitively as well. I need more practice sessions even though I watch the videos a couple of times, it doesn’t really sink in until I practice it. Namaste.
You definitely need a mat which allows you to always have your knees on a soft surface. The other alternative would be to have a couple of cushions handy which should have a similar consistency as the mat, and you can place those on both sides of the mat. I have done that a lot when I did not have a big enough mat to keep my knees on it all the time. If you have knee issues, you can even go for a softer or more substantial cushion to place your knees on. Just make sure they never end up on a hard surface.
January 17, 2014
Hi Shama….I hope you are well. I am feeling a little discouraged with the practice piece of the Thai massage. I worked on my husband last night and was not at all comfortable working on him. He is about 250 lbs. and lifting his leg is like lifting a 50 lb. bag of rocks. I put his leg on top of mine to work the inside of the quads with the forearm and my leg fell asleep. I think I need to change the mechanics for when I work on heavier people. We talked a little bit about that after module 3. I can’t give my client a good massage if I am uncomfortable. I think I need to be above him so that I can use more of my body weight and having my legs pinned under him doesn’t really work. It’s fine for Jack and maybe some female clients but I am going to have to really make adaptations for working on bigger men. I will try again tonight. Just feeling a little discouraged with my progress.
This might not be what you want to hear, but it is the truth. What you are experiencing is a good thing. You are in the fortunate position of being able to work on people with very different sizes and weights. This reflects what you encounter in real life massage therapy. It is best to learn early on that not all techniques work on every body type. That’s a big reason why throughout this course I offer many alternative ways of doing something. Thai Massage is definitely not a one-size-fits-all situation.
Working on a 250 pound man is a challenge in any kind of massage therapy if you are much smaller than that. You need to learn early on that in such a case you will need to preserve your energy and strength by
- Skipping certain techniques
- Using many more non-hand techniques like elbows, forearms, knees and feet.
For example if someone has very heavy legs, you don’t put their leg across yours, but you stand up and work the leg with your feet, for example. It is a bit to early in the course for you to know how to do all that, but I can assure you that you will learn it as you go along.
In the case of your husband, you would cut your stretch repertoire down to maybe less than 50 percent and only use techniques where you have plenty of leverage. The rule is this: The bigger and heavier someone is in relation to your size and weight, the more techniques you will need to eliminate and the more you should use non-stretch techniques where you can effectively work with your forearms, elbows, knees and feet.
Don’t worry about this now, it will all become very clear in future sessions. Just don’t try to do every single technique which I show you on your husband. That would be like trying to drive a square peg through a round hole. If I work on a 250 pound person, I don’t use all techniques either. I just do what I know I can do comfortably without wearing myself out in the process. And that’s something you learn only by first running into obstacles and into your limits, as you have experienced with your husband. So that was a good lesson!
January 17, 2014
Thank you, Shama, for making me smile and turning all that into a positive way of looking at my practice sessions. It has been so many years since massage school that I have forgotten that I probably faced similar challenges then and had to work to overcome them. I will try again and now that I know I can’t do certain techniques on my husband I can watch the videos again and think about how I might be able to address those same areas in a different way. Maybe I should stop cooking so much for him! There’s a lot to remember! Thanks for always getting back to me. Your support means so much and is greatly appreciated.
Put him on a starvation diet to facilitate your Thai Massage practice. Now that sounds like a recipe for harmony in the family.
Anyway, you will automatically learn more about using different options for different types of people throughout this course since this really is a big issue which is often totally neglected in Thai Massage training. And yes, initially learning Thai Massage is challenging. It is not the easiest modality out there, and there is lots to learn. How otherwise did I come up with 19 different courses as of last count!
But one thing I can tell you for sure: If you are really good at Thai Massage, you can be amazingly effective therapeutically and you will have very little, if any competition unless you live in Thailand. It will take time and lots of practice and experience, but it will be well worth it.
January 17, 2014
I just finished watching module 7 and can’t wait to practice tonight. Now I understand why my Yoga teacher is always wanting a body to practice on. It’s the only way the information really sinks in. I am seeing the resemblance to Yoga as you start to move the body into the stretching positions and that will make it easier to remember a sequence. I will check in after I practice this a bit. Namaste.
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