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Lea's Complete Thai Massage course notes (barleymoon)
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barleymoon
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March 10, 2014 - 3:17 am
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Hi Shama!  I've gotten a little behind on the coursework so I am getting caught up today.  Everyone in my family has been sick with colds and now I've come down with it.  Not feeling my best lately so I haven't been practicing as much.  I got caught up on the modules today. (18 and 19)  My husband said I could practice on him today so I will mainly work on the abdominal work, the shoulders and arms and hands.  Again, the summary video really helps me when I see it all put together.  My husband makes fun of me because I write things down and then re-write them but that's just how I learn.  I reorganized my notes so that all the moves are together for when the leg is straight, then bent at 90 degrees, then in tree pose etc. and I am working on transitions between the moves.  I know it will all come together with a lot of practice.  I had a few questions for you as I watched the videos.

Does it matter when the blood stop is done?  Does it have to be done after the hip stretches or could it be done in the beginning when the leg is already at a 90 degree angle and I am working on the inside of the thighs?

When the arm is out (module 18) and the palm is down could we elephant walk on the forearms.  I have a lot of clients with very tight forearms and that looked like a perfect spot for it.

In Thai massage there seems to be a lot of straddling the body and it makes it much easier to get leverage and pressure for certain moves but I am vaguely remembering something from Shiatsu that we were not supposed to cross the body that way?  I don't remember why.  It had something to do with the energy flow.  I'm also wondering if it's sexually suggestive to do that on a male client.  In the end it's all about intention but I wouldn't want a male client to misinterpret that.   Also I am thinking it would be awkward to straddle someone who is really large and I am assuming we would just work from the side in that case? 

I am really liking this video course and think I will take the heavenly head massage course and the abdominal massage course when I am done with this one.  I am interested in learning about shirodhara and think that would combine nicely with heavenly head massage.  Do you know anything about that?  I've never experienced it but would love to take a course on it. I will let you know how the session goes this evening.  As always, I hope that you are well and appreciate all the knowledge that you so patiently share with us.  Namaste 

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March 10, 2014 - 11:26 am
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You can do the blood stop before or after the hip stretches, it really doesn't matter. The leg should be angled out by about 45 degrees. At 90 degrees you are in a full blown stretch and it would feel very uncomfortable to do the blood stop in such a position since the adductor tendon would feel like a rope under tension. Actually on people who are not flexible, it is even better to do the blood stop with the leg angled out at 45 degree, and the knee bent so that the upper and lower leg form a 90 degree angle. That takes all the stress off the adductor tendon.

Certainly you could elephant walk on the arms at the point you mentioned. There are no hard and fast rules regarding the sequencing of the techniques. You can always be creative and intuitive about your work. For very tight arms there are many more specialized techniques which can be done by using forearms, knees, and even feet. Again I have a therapy course about arm and hand massage which goes much more into detail about this.

The straddling is indeed a very important advantage to gain better leverage and improve your ergonomics. I don't know about this Shiatsu rule, but there certainly is no such thing in Thai Massage. I can assure you that it will not impede energy flow.

You can also totally forget about your worries about sexual suggestiveness. This is just how Thai Massage is done. Here in Thailand there are tens of thousands of mostly female therapists with small and light bodies, and the only way that they can work effectively is by using their body weight to their best advantage, and that is often done by straddling your client. If you don't worry about sexual connotations, your clients won't either. It really is a mindset issue.

Straddling large clients can be the only way to gain leverage. However if there is a technique which is awkward due to size differences, you can certainly work from the side as well. It's all about what feels right and works best.

However I want to reiterate that you should never be influenced by considerations of Shiatsu rules or inappropriateness or any such ideas. Rules can be made up by anyone, and they might be useful or they might just be someone's idea or cultural interpretation. They are not necessarily the absolute truth written in stone.

There are also such concepts in Thai Massage. For example there are teachers who insist that you should fold your hands and offer respects and pray to the founder of Thai Massage, Shivaka Komarpaj, before each session. I totally disregard this since most westerners aren't too fond of praying to someone before a massage session, and it has nothing to do with the quality of massage.

This concept could be replaced with a moment of centering for example. However it's just not gonna go over very well for devout Christians for example if they are told to pay respects to an Asian deity. So sometimes there are rules which work well and make sense in one cultural environment, but not in another.

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March 10, 2014 - 8:38 pm
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Shama,  Thanks for your responses.  They make sense to me.  My session last night went ok.  John didn't like the thumbs under the ribs (and I was very gentle)  and when I tried to straddle him my knee wouldn't touch the ground on the other side and we both started laughing.  He was pretty uncomfortable with the abdominal work but really liked the shoulder work.  A lot of my questions regarding the appropriateness of certain moves stem from his attitude toward massage in general.  He has never liked me doing massage and feels like Thai massage is way too intimate and personal.  As a body worker I understand it's about the leverage and pressure and using my body in a way that is ergonomically correct and it makes perfect sense to me.  Massage has always had this shadow of sexuality associated with it and I have worked for many years to educate people about the therapeutic value of Massage Therapy.  Even though our intentions are pure and professional, we may still come across people/clients who associate massage with sex.  I am probably over aware of this because of my husband's dislike for my career. 

I worked on Jack for a few minutes last night too but he was really tired from a busy weekend and wasn't into it so I stopped the session.  He didn't like the thumbs under the ribs either.  I think that would feel great.  We'll try again today. I had John try the move where you press down on the knees to move the sacrum on ME and I loved it!  What a great move.  I feel pretty comfortable with the upper body moves and can't wait to see what's next!  Laugh Have a great day!

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Shama Kern
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March 10, 2014 - 11:36 pm
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You are in a bit of a challenging situation with your husband. I hope you can find other practice partners as well to get a more balanced feedback on what you are doing.

Of course massage can have a sexual connotation. But that's like saying that knives have a killing connotation. However people who buy a kitchen knife know exactly what they want to do with it, namely cutting food, and they don't get sidetracked by some people who are planning to kill someone with a knife. That does not reflect badly on all house wives and cooks in the world.

There will always be people who use massage in a sexual way, but they are running on a different track than us therapists. I have never mixed the two in my mind, and I have never had clients who did either. Granted, as a female therapist that might be a little different. I see it as two mostly unrelated worlds, the world of sexual come-on massage and the world of therapeutic massage therapy.

I know that there is some overlap. That goes especially for the part of the world I live in, namely southeast Asia where therapeutic massage and sexual massage often don't have a clear separation line. 

I might have a different experience in my massage career as a male therapist, but I happen to be married to a female massage therapist from Thailand, so I definitely get to hear the female perspective from the horse's mouth. She has been practicing massage for as long as I have, and she is so crystal clear in her intentions that she doesn't attract clients who are looking for something else.

On the few occasions where she did have such a client, she developed a good response. One time a client had an obvious arousal with obvious intentions. She told him "why don't you go to the bathroom and get it over with, and then we can continue with the massage". His arousal disappeared in an instant. What a great line!

I have never felt that Thai Massage is too intimate and personal. I actually feel that Swedish massage is much more intimate since you are lying naked on a table in a closed room, whereas during Thai Massage you are fully dressed and there is no privacy required. Here in Thailand Thai Massage is generally done in a non private environment, often in plain view of everyone - other clients who are lying on a mat right next to yours and even people just passing by on the street. Not much room for anything besides actual massage there.

Now if someone (like your husband) is predisposed against massage, they will not respond very favorably to what you are doing compared to someone who loves massage, wants massage and needs the resulting benefits.

Working on your husband will affect your attitude and your experience with the Thai Massage work. So it would probably be a good idea to find as many practice partners as possible besides your husband. When people have a fixed opinion about something, it is generally very difficult or impossible to change that. Trying to do it anyway can be frustrating. In some cases in a relationship we just have to agree to disagree on some things. And that's ok.

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March 15, 2014 - 9:28 am
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Shama, I so appreciate your input and feedback.  It really helps me to put it all into perspective.  You are so right about the type of clients that we attract.  I've never had many issues over all the years that I've been doing massage and always felt that if we present ourselves in a professional way then there are less likely to be any issues or advances.  And you're right about the way I feel when I work on my husband but didn't realize until you pointed it out that it probably has more to do with his attitude toward massage than it does with my techniques.  The bottom line is that he doesn't like me doing massage at all and never has.  When I work on him I feel like I am not doing anything the right way and it's very discouraging.  It's a completely different feeling when I work on my kids or their friends.  It's a much more positive experience. 

Joe's girlfriend Megan is here tomorrow and she said I can practice on her.  I have mentioned her before....she runs track and XC and has super tight hamstrings so she will love the stretches and the leg work.  I watched both module 20 and 21 today.  I always feel like I get it when I watch the videos but when I go to practice I get a little lost in positioning my body.  I need more practice time and can't seem to find it lately.  Jack came down with the flu and has been very, very sick for a few days so I am taking care of him.  Kateri will be home soon for spring break and she loves the Thai massage so maybe I will take the laptop in to practice the moves as I watch you do them.  I will let you know how the session with Megan goes tomorrow.  I am so ready for spring!  Have a wonderful day!   Thank you again for just being who you are.  You are a wonderful teacher.  Namaste.      

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March 16, 2014 - 12:37 am
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Thank you, I really appreciate your kind words. 

Naturally the actual practice is more difficult than watching the videos. I always suggest to watch the videos several times since I have had so many comments from students that every time they re-watch the videos they pick something up which they had missed previously. That's the big thing about this video course. You can always refer back to the material. This can't be done when you take a live class. Once it's over, it's over with no chance to watch it again.

Getting really good at Thai Massage takes many months and even years of regular practice. No way around that. But there is a real pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Smile

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March 31, 2014 - 2:04 am
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Hi Shama, I didn't realize how much time had gone by since my last post.  Jack got very sick after my last post.  He lost almost 9 pounds in a week and a half of being sick then John and Joe both got sick so I have been really busy taking care of everyone.  Sometimes Moms have to juggle a lot of stuff!  I am getting caught up on my yoga teacher training and this course this week.  I didn't leave the house for almost 3 weeks except to go for a quick run!  I just watched module 22 and love the quadriceps stretches.  I am already thinking of clients who need this work and can't wait till I am proficient enough to offer it to them.  Since I posted last I worked on my daughter Kateri (who LOVES this work and volunteers to let me work on her every time she comes home) and I also worked on Joe's girlfriend Megan.  Kateri's session was over an hour and I did some of the leg work but concentrated on the upper body and abdominal work since that was the newer material.  She really liked the thumbs under the ribs and moving the ribcage slightly from left to right.  The boys didn't like that move as much.  It is a totally different experience for me when I am not working on my husband.  You are absolutely right about finding different practice partners.  Everyone else that I work on still gives me honest feedback and they let me know if something doesn't feel quite right but there is just a different feel to the session. 

Megan's session went really well too.  She loved the leg stretches.  I can't wait to see how her runs were after the session.  I practiced the supine leg stretches and the upper body work on her as well.  She has had Swedish massage from me and reported that she felt terrible the next day at practice and had a terrible run. (I don't think she drank enough water even though I warned her.)  She had CranioSacral work and said that she had the best runs that she's ever had and she felt like she was floating through her runs and was faster.  So we'll see what she says about the Thai massage and running.  Conducting my own "not so scientific" data collection.  Smile  I'm excited about the sacrum module.  Restrictions at the sacrum can account for so much dis-function in the body!  I can't wait to see what moves you have for that area.  I hope you are well.  Namaste. 

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March 31, 2014 - 2:54 am
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I just watched module 23 on the sacrum and glutes.  Loved it!!  This area is so often ignored in Western massage and it's a shame because those are some large powerful muscles which work very hard to move us around all day.  Runners love having their glutes worked and it releases the hips and makes for a better run.  Great stuff.  I liked the specific moves for the sacrum too.  Can't wait to find someone to practice on!  This was a perfect day to get caught up on the videos.  It's cold and rainy here but I guess that's better than snow this late in the season. 

I have another hernia which needs surgery so I wanted to let you know ahead of time.  The surgery is scheduled for April 16th and I will be out of commission for 4 weeks.  No exercise and no lifting and then I have to start back slowly.  I have had a couple of other hernia surgeries in the last few years so I know what's coming Yelland I know I have to take my time and really let my body heal.  This puts me in a bit of a quandary for this course because I won't be able to practice the techniques for a bit.  I want to keep up with the videos and posting about them with questions and then when I am better I can re-watch them and practice the techniques if that is ok with you.  I plan on doing this professionally and want to become very proficient at it so I will be practicing them when I am able to.  I was trying to put off the surgery but I am having a hard time pushing through it anymore and it has gotten much worse in the last couple of months.  I am loving the course and am very grateful that my yoga teacher recommended you to me.  You have a real gift for teaching and I have learned so much already.  Thank you again for all you do for us and for sharing everything that you do.  If you want me to handle the rest of the course differently than what I described above please let me know.  Off to watch a couple more videos.  Namaste.    

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March 31, 2014 - 3:57 am
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I just had a chance to practice on Jack for a short while so I just worked on the quad stretches and the glute work.  Love it!  I knew I would.  He wasn't so crazy about the thumb pressure on the sacrum but he really liked the stretches.  Joe should be home later and maybe I'll have a chance to practice on him too.  The only one I didn't really get was the one where the foot comes up into the armpit.  I'll have to re-watch that to see where to position my body.  Namaste. 

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March 31, 2014 - 4:07 pm
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Sounds like you had quite a challenge on the home front. I hope Jack is getting better quickly.

It's good that you have several practice partners who like what you are doing. You are right, the sacrum and glutes are an area which is often neglected in massage therapy for some strange reason. All clients I ever had liked sacrum and glute work, and I love it as well.

Sorry to hear about your hernia trouble. You can put the posting on hold until you are able to practice again, no problem. It makes more sense to post when you can actually work with the material. However I think it is a good idea to re-watch the videos which you have practiced already and also watch the new ones to get familiar with the material. 

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April 1, 2014 - 6:31 am
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Just a quick note.  I had a chance to work on Joe last night for about 30 minutes.  He loves the work and will ask me for it at night after he runs.  The quad stretches were great and even though he was really tight and not flexible he let me try the power version of the stretches just to see how they felt for both of us.  I didn't take him past his end stretch but it was good practice to position his body (and mine) for the power versions. 

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July 22, 2014 - 7:11 am
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Hello Shama!  It's been a while since I posted.  I am healed up from my surgery and started to practice Thai massage again so I started with module 25 which is where I left off.  I worked with my daughter Kateri who is home for the summer from college (she works but is grateful for the bodywork when she gets home :) I warmed up the erector mm's using the flat palm and leaning technique and then the circles.  I practiced with the elbows and leaned forward.  She really liked the work with the knees and even though she is very thin through her upper body, she let me try the power version with the back leg extended.  I can see where that would be awesome for larger people.  Kateri said that she forgot how much she likes this work.  Will practice this for a couple of days and be back with reports on module 26.  Hope all is well with you!  Namaste.

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July 23, 2014 - 12:48 am
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Welcome back again. Good to hear that you are healed up from your surgery. I am looking forward to following your progress with the remaining part of the course again! Smile

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July 31, 2014 - 4:20 am
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Hi Shama!  It feels good to be back.  I worked on the techniques in module 26.  The back and upper body work feels much more intuitive for me than the leg work did.  As always, you have good advice regarding ergonomics and protection of the thumbs and wrists.  I've done massage for 12 years now and I know how important that is!  I tried doing the elephant walking with the flat part of my fists just to see how that would feel but Jack said your technique felt better 🙂  The fists might work better on someone bigger with a broad back.  I liked the forearm rocking on the erector mm's and used it on the glutes as well.  Jack didn't like the thumb work but he has some trigger pts along the sacrum so it's probably what he needs.  He loved the neck and upper trap work.  Will practice on Kateri if I can catch her between work and her social life!  🙂  Life is busy but good.  Hope all is well with you in your end of the world.  Will be back to post on module 27 in a few days.  Namaste. 

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July 31, 2014 - 4:46 pm
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Looks like you are back on track again, making the family members feel good! Smile

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August 6, 2014 - 7:13 am
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Hi Shama,

I reviewed the summary and moved onto module 29 which covers the side lying techniques. As with your practice I found that I didn't do a lot of side lying position with clients but over the years but there were enough times that it was called for that I was grateful to have some techniques to use.  I really like the access to the hips that this position gives.  I worked on Jack tonight and he was super sore from soccer camp so it was good to work on him but I had to lighten the pressure quite a bit.  He loved the percussion techniques on the hips and was really tight from doing so much running.  I always appreciate the reminders of having graceful movements and making the massage like a dance.  So important to remember that our energy is transferred to the client and if we are relaxed it will help to relax them.  Thanks so much for all you do!  Namaste.

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August 6, 2014 - 11:10 am
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I am glad to be able to help with my courses! Smile

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September 2, 2014 - 7:33 pm
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Hi Shama,

We are back from vacation in Maryland at my brother's house and getting back on track and ready for school to start on Thursday.  (Yay!!)  I am working on module 30 and will post today after I work on Jack.  Hope all is well with you.  Namaste. 

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September 3, 2014 - 4:12 am
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Hi Shama,

I practiced the techniques in Module 30 (more side lying) and as usual you make it look easy!  The palming and thumbing are 2nd nature now but the spinal twist with the rocking motion will take a little more practice.  Jack wasn't cooperating today either so that didn't help. I think he's a little keyed up about starting school.....5th grade already!  :)  He liked the stretches and asked for more of them when I was done.  Sometimes I think I get so intent on the technique that I forget about the light touch so your reminders are helpful.  I feel like I a still very choppy and haven't connected the moves with grace yet.  I'm sure it will come with more practice.  Hope all is well with you. 

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September 4, 2014 - 1:36 am
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Once you train yourself to use a light touch without straining, you will find that it is all just as easy as I make it look like! And light touch doesn't mean no power, it just means a flowing execution which does not stress you. But no worries, this only comes with plenty of practice. Smile

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