Module 1 and 2 The introduction to the course
Thank you Shama for starting the course in this manner. This is exactly what I am needing to balance out my practice and to bring a deeper knowing to the work.
I have been deterred in the past to facilitate an environment that is clinical. I am now finding that I can still maintain a relaxing and nurturing atmosphere without seeming clinical at all. That this info can assist me in the direction of the work as does energy reading etc..
I would be interested in a brush up on Anatomy as well Shama if you are thinking of maybe doing a course on that, I would be interested.
Hi Liz, I am happy to hear that this course is a good fit your work. Since I have spent most of my massage career in Thailand, I have always focused on practicing and teaching Thai Massage in a way that is a blend of western and eastern approaches. I am not a fan of clinical environments. I feel that the spirit is lacking in it, and that the human element takes a back seat. In Asia massage is done more in an alive, social environment where the human element is more important than the clinical one.
That brings us to anatomy. Traditionally Thai Massage has never been taught in a way which was based on anatomy. The reason for this is that the underlying principle of Thai Massage is to work on energy lines, free up energy flow, and re-balance the energy in the body.
Pretty much all Asian healing arts are based on this concept. When I started out with Thai Massage 16 years ago, none of the schools ever mentioned a single word about anatomy. Nowadays they do include some anatomy in their courses, mostly due to the demand by western students.
When I produced my first course, Complete Thai Massage, I did it very much in the Asian way. In my later courses I have included more anatomical information. I am still reluctant to focus heavily on anatomy since the western tendency is to look at massage primarily in a clinical, technical way which is incompatible with the spirit of Thai Massage.
I want to preserve the spirit of Thai Massage with it’s focus on moving energy and not move Thai Massage into the western orbit of clinical and scientific focus.
For me it is important that I can motivate students to feel more, develop more intuition and a more refined sense of touch. In other words think of moving energy rather than moving parts of someone’s anatomy.
I think it is important to understand the anatomy and physiology. However this has never been my main focus in my courses. There are plenty of good anatomy courses available on the internet, and I have always felt that I could not offer anything better or more unique.
When it comes to Thai Massage, I can offer something unique and something better. So I have decided to focus on where I can have the biggest impact and leave the anatomy to those who have focused on this aspect.
Also please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification check list here:
Specifically please look at item #4 on this list about combining modules.
Kyphosis! What a word! I have several clients who’s bodies have shaped this way. Without knowing the correct term for the condition, I think in past I have assessed someones body unconsciously and usually choose stretches that are counter to the direction they are growing ie; chest openers and heart chakra work for those with Kyphosis. Learning that because of this condition the upper back muscles between the shoulder blades becomes weakened, was a real eye opener. I realized the effect of shortened pec muscles but did not have big picture of the condition.
I have found that when someone usually has this condition they are not able to be worked on in sitting position because they do not have the flexibility. I have a lot of men that have this issue. Is there a solution to working them in sitting position??
Strengthening the back muscles:
I would like to know some exercises I can give my clients to improve this condition between sessions. I know that it is rare that clients actually do their homework, but it feels like I am doing a better job as their health support by being able to offer this knowledge. Many of my clients are happy to not do their own work and just come for massage more often, which I accept with love and compassion. I realize many people are not yet there with their health and still need a lot of support. I try to stay in contact about it throughout our work together.
The best way to find exercises for the upper back muscles is to type in the youtube search bar: “strengthen upper back muscles”. There is a lot to choose from. As you pointed out, most people won’t do it. Your only chance is to give them something rather simple and easy that doesn’t take a lot of time. Ideally something that can be done while they are watching TV.
I have often given my clients homework assignments, knowing full well that most likely they would not follow through. However I still feel better knowing that I did provide a means for them to help themselves. If they do it or not is not our responsibility.
If they just want to spend the money and get our sessions in a passive way without doing anything themselves, that’s ok too. It’s their body and we can’t be attached to how far people will take things. But then again, you might come across a client who is really happy that you provide additional resources and will totally follow through with it – you never know. It has definitely happened to me.
Regarding your question about the sitting position, this will be answered in depth in upcoming video segments.
I think this module has to been one of the most important subjects for me. Using proper movement and pressure while working is something that I continually am self checking.
I find with every new technique I go back to the roots of my own movement, how am I sitting, leaning, standing. I find that leaning and circling seems to be the most challenging or the position that I most need to be self aware while doing. For me it seems to more about getting the right amount of looseness in my own body, than how much pressure I’m applying. It is very easy to apply to much pressure and then loose that rhythm in my own body. Once I have this movement it sets the tone to my work. I love the palming of the lines for this very reason.
Right now i am working with my own shoulder injury, and the right position and how I apply pressure is really important. Relying on other parts of my body to do work other than my palms has been really important. Still I am taken back to how important it is to be comfortable, not to give more than I am, to be present with myself, to be in the moment and let go of any preconceived ideas about how the session should go or even how I should give to this person. This is when the best sessions occur.
I am very familiar with the work of the thumbing the spine and palming using the elephant ( or cat paws as some of my clients call it) up the back. I don’t always thumb the lines, either because I don’t feel that kind of strength that day or because I sense that is not how this persons spine wants to be activated…What i never ever skip is the palming, and the butterfly position allows this one rhythmically deep movement to occur from my hara through my palms to their back..leaning in slowly and leaning away. I have one client that the left side of her back along the erector muscles in the lower thorasic area always spasms as soon as I touch her the slightest bit, but when I ease into that area with intension and focus doing the palming her body lets me in. Some days are worse for her than others, some days I can do thumb work after warming her back and sometimes I just thumb below and above that agitated spots. I usually end her session with a spray Moxa and heat or some Thai herbal balm to sooth the area.
Sacrum work is sacred!
Thank you for this knowledge. I seem to have completely clouded my vision to the possibilities of this very powerful area. I found I didn’t like using my knuckles but I have been thumbing the vertibrae and really like that. Also doing some rhythmic palming and kneading of the SI, as you said tells you a lot about what is going on in that area.
An interesting fact I just learned about the sacrum, that it is possible to get arthritis there! This is usually found in women who have had many children. Also that the Uterus hangs off the sacrum which contributes to women experiencing aching backs during their cycles.
Okay that it for now
Arthritis is one of the causes of sciatica.
I am glad you appreciate the sacrum work. In my experience most bodyworkers don’t do it, either because they don’t know how, or they don’t know how good it feels and how useful it is, or they have the bizarre notion that it is somehow inappropriate. In contrast I have never met a client who did not like the sacrum work. And many told me that I was the first one ever to work on their sacrum.
I am getting some awesome feedback from clients around the sacrum work. Often they say I love the work you did on my glutes! Most everyone I see has one or two tight glute areas and I think this is a really effect way of getting to that tension.
I particularly like using the forearm rolling for this, but will also use the palm rolling when I am working the rocking of the low back that I learned from the Sciatica Course.
It is such a powerful spot!
These last two modules have been a wonderful addition to my work. It seems that no matter what my clients issues are when they come in, the pelvis area is essential to my work. From this place one carries the rest of the body and movement.
I have found the techniques really wonderful. The rocking and palming the SI feels very comforting for the client especially if this is where they have a lot of tension, and like you said, I can really feel whats going on in this area when i am practicing this technique. I usually follow that with the forearm rolling which allows me to get deeper into the glutes and SI.
So happy about this work!
Checking the spine using small circling technique is super effective and gives me a lot information before I start to work more deeply on the lines.
It does take still quite a bit of focus to get the right rhythm when working the erector muscles with the rocking palming technique but it is interestingly very receivable and effective at relaxing not only the muscles but the client, sometimes i can actually feel the client sink deeper into new levels of receptivity.
It seems every person I touch the rhythm is different. Doing the rhythmic palming of the outside of the erector muscles which is a easier technique than the palming the opposite side, is a really relaxed way of exploring the rhythm that is present in that moment before going deeper into the work. If i have not been as focused in my work up until now, this technique helps assist me in getting in the groove.
I am also finding that the rhythm of the lower body can be very different in the upper torso.
Yes! I do really enjoy the rocking what a lovely way of entering the energy field!! From what I understand from Thai Massage is that one learns the art form and through the the practitioner over time we flow with intuition which may make the work look slightly different than the original form of the work. I believe that there is no mistake that this art form/medicine has it’s roots in Buddhist culture, it would naturally have the open outlook that once the art form is taught and over time becomes a part of the practitioner that the look of the work will take on a form of it’s own, it really is beautiful!!
That’s exactly correct. You learn the basic system and then you make it your own through experience, intuition and creativity. Most good therapists have their own style. In my case, most of my advanced training material is not something which I learned from someone. I learned it by doing it, by interacting with clients, by allowing myself to be creative and by never getting stuck with a routine.
You get to the point where you develop something like a sixth sense about what what works on whom, what you should do and how to modify techniques. You enter into a flow state where your massage becomes unique, beautiful and connected like in a dance between giver and receiver.
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