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Lori Richardson's Complete Thai Massage progress notes
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Lori Richardson
Rhode Island, USA
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December 16, 2016 - 7:33 am
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Module 1 so while there wasn’t much in the manner of a specific technique in this module, it was rather about an approach or a way of application. I am finding the little ‘tools and tricks’ video very helpful with the full kneeling position. The seated, 1/2 squat, full squat positions I find easily accessible. Then there is that position that for years I have always referred to as the”Thai princess toe torture”position. Yeah. And we well know that torture = avoidance… But the T&T video has given me the opportunity to go in and out of it, and explore it in some ways that I haven’t in the past. So I see hope on that horizon. Moving on, I practiced a little sequence on one of my sons [(adult) who I will refer to as CER.] My living room floor space is a tad narrow, so I find it a bit inhibiting when moving from one side of the body to the other, as I need to make my client/son shift in order to accommodate. I look forward to the day I have a nice mat and a larger space to work in. As for technique/ ergonomics/ breath application: I still feel a little “off”. Breath connection is good, but I feel that my application of the techniques needs work. Application of Compression in this manner is a fairly new concept, and I find myself wondering what is good to me, should I do more? less? and I find that in the standing position of delivering massage along the calves with my foot seems to bring up increased sensitivity in my client. The intrinsic motion of inner dance/chi/movement is well, I sense where I want to go with my intuition, (in their body), but my flow feels disjointed right now. I look forward to seeing this shift.  

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Shama
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December 16, 2016 - 1:52 pm
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Hi Lori, welcome to the Complete Thai Massage course and our forum. You have a great background for learning Thai Massage, so that will be very helpful.

You are writing about the introductory module as if you are supposed to be an expert in all this already just from watching it the first time! Laugh 

All this material will be covered in great detail throughout the course during the next 5 months. By then it will all flow, your sensitivity will be highly developed, and your coordination will be more like a dance than like a mechanical process.

I am looking forward to reading about your progress and interacting with you. 

Also please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification check list to make sure that everything is nicely organized:

Certification Check List

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Lori Richardson
Rhode Island, USA
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December 18, 2016 - 8:21 am
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Module 2 Chi machine- I actually find this quite easy to perform, I have performed this now on 2 different adults (sons) who are both 6′ and I am 5′ 2″. They both enjoyed it. I also took the opportunity to try the single knee to chest position that Shama demonstrated on the 2nd person. I am used to doing this at a massage table, and I have also done this before from the floor, but I have always put the foot on my shoulder instead of my hip. I think it makes more sense for me from the shoulder from an ergonomic sense, however I also think I want to play with the foot at the hip a few more times just to see if it is just a ‘getting used to it’ thing.

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Lori Richardson
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December 18, 2016 - 8:41 am
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Module 3 I am also adding in this module today as I have also practiced this twice now. I am starting to feel it coming together, though I am still following the guidance of the video. I was wondering if there are specific points we are trying to connect to every time we go up and down the foot with the 1-2-3-2-1, or if it is more of just a generalized moving hands up and down? I know that in my own feet I would prefer all those 3 points below the balls of the toes (3 points along the arch, or even along the inside of the 5th metatarsal would be heavenly!)                                                                                                      I find that the circle and press movement feels really nice and rhythmic to perform. The one area I feel I might not be getting as much out of the movement is the dorsiflexion stretch given in the kneeling position. I find that I can give a good plantarflexion stretch as I bend forward, but when I switch my hands to below the feet and lean forward my elbows bend, – is this correct? It feels right to me, however both my boys told me that they weren’t feeling much of a stretch in that position. of course, the other consideration is that they may just be at the limit of their DF end range, and may not get a huge stretch there anyhow…

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Shama
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December 18, 2016 - 11:34 pm
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That’s quite unusual that you find the Chi Machine so easy. Most course students find this one rather challenging – anyway, that’s a good sign! Smile

Regarding the hip stretch – if you are very short and your client has really long legs, it might well make sense to put the foot on the shoulder. However if you are working on someone with not so long legs, then putting the foot in your groin should be plenty enough for a good stretch. In general it is easier to have good ergonomics and control with the foot in the groin. You will find out more about that when you reach the hip section of the course.

Regarding the 1-2-3-2-1 points on the sole of the foot – theoretically there are 5 energy lines radiating out from the heel to all the 5 toes. Practically it is done in a more generalized way without getting too scientific about it since it is not really possible to work these lines in a precise way.

Regarding the dorsiflexion stretch – it is often not so easy to get a strong stretch in this position. However there are other options coming up in the course where you can turn this into a real power move, if you wanted to. However, not every move in Thai Massage needs to be a power move.

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Lori Richardson
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December 29, 2016 - 8:25 am
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Module 4 ~ Phew! Good to get back into practice after the holiday. I actually watched and practiced  4-7 today as I had the time, and a willing receiver. But for now I am going to reserve my comments to module #4. 

 I really find the idea of the 8 movements of the ankle (well technically 6 movements according to the training, and then the treatments of the dorsal and plantar aspects respectively to equal 8 ways of working on various areas) very helpful in thinking of how to approach the feet. I am finding myself thinking that there is an amazing amount of material already, and we’re still on the feet!

I found most of the work very nice and smooth – the thumb rolling with the under twist was really enjoyable, and enjoyed well, too, as was the circling and pulling strokes on the medial and lateral aspects of the feet.

 I did find moving down the rays a little challenging, as his feet were just shed of his socks and not quite dry. Which brings me to the question,  do we ever use any oil or lotion in this type of situation?  I found myself wanting to run into the kitchen to get a smidgen of coconut oil to make it smoother for both myself and my receiver. I know it isn’t common to use anything like that, but I think that I am not the 1st person to run into a “sticky” situation.  

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Shama
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December 29, 2016 - 9:32 pm
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Using oil is not such a good idea since you will keep on working over the clothes, and most people wouldn’t appreciate getting oil on them, I would imagine. If there is such a case, I just work around it, meaning I might skip a technique or replace it with something else.

The workaround here in Thailand sometimes is that people get a little foot bath before the session. 

There is a Thai foot massage system that is entirely done with oil (I teach it in my Thai Foot Massage course), however this is separate from Thai Massage. It is only done on the feet, and it is more closely related to foot reflexology.

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Lori Richardson
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January 4, 2017 - 6:58 am
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Module 5 I really like the work in this module, though this may be the one that I have found myself needing to remind myself to work with the body the most thus far. The rolling technique felt very “normal”, especially the one that uses the base of the palms, as that is my most used tool when I do most of my soft tissue work on patients. I wasn’t quite as flowing with the reverse twisting/wringing. I think the part that I definitely have to focus on is the first part of the warm up – 2 of my sons found the midpart (#2 position) of the quad with the butterfly quite tender, and I had to back up my leaning in pressure.

On the upside, I am starting to put pieces from other segments together without looking at the material, starting to work somewhat organically. But only a few aspects! 

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January 4, 2017 - 9:06 pm
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If you are only at module 5 and you are already starting to connect the dots, that’s good progress, I would say! 

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Lori Richardson
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January 29, 2017 - 8:06 am
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Module 6 Its been a few weeks since I have been able to get on here and actually write about what I have been doing. Its interesting because it seems like ‘all or nothing’ types of opportunities keep cropping up. I haven’t been able to do that much at home with either of my sons recently due to incompatible schedules, but the past couple of weekends have given me opportunities to explore a lot of the work, even beyond this particular module. (I will remain on point, but I am going to comment on the next module or 2 also at this writing. They will be separate as necessary for the outline.)

I actually explored quite a bit of hip rocking and forearm work today on the quadriceps. I was offering Therapeutic Yoga Bodywork mini sessions as part of an Open House where I teach yoga and offer that particular modality, and I found that I simply started using a lot of the Thai work as warm up and key massage pieces. It was very complementary and cohesive, ( and quite honestly I think there is some overlap) and I found that I was enjoying offering the work so much more with the addition of the Thai work. I found it very natural, with especially the hip rocking with clients who were very tight in their adductors and hip flexors. While I didn’t get to practice every single tool of this module, I found there were a couple of instances where using the forearms were perfect for the situation. It was very natural, and client reaction was extremely positive. I am looking forward to exploring more of this module.   

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Lori Richardson
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January 29, 2017 - 8:25 am
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Module 7 I love this module! Over the past few weeks, I have probably practiced these stretches on just about everybody I have had the opportunity to. A few weeks ago I helped a friend of mine who is a Thai Bodyworker give a workshop hosted by a yoga studio in another part of the state. The element of the hip stretch with the hamstring press was part of the routine that she taught at that workshop,as well as the butterfly press up the uppers legs, and I had several opportunities to repeat it on different people and I felt quite proficient with it. 

I really appreciate your observation of how hip imbalances appear in different bodies. I have worked with different hip situations in outpatient PT, but this was a very simple way to just see how naturally (or unnaturally as the case may be) the hip opens, and where a client’s abilities, ease/discomfort may arise from, and to be sensitive to those issues when they present themselves.

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Lori Richardson
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January 29, 2017 - 8:38 am
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Module 8 Is it pie or pi ? At least that was the thought in my mind… The directions of these stretches just make so much sense. These particular stretches are all part of the Therapeutic Yoga Bodywork system that I work with, but I have to admit that no one ever brought the image of the 8 pieces/directions to my attention before. I feel like I should have seen this before as I spent a good part of my life working in pastry and baking! 

So the more interesting aspect of this module (for me) is the transitioning from one leg to the other, one side to the other. I have been practicing! I don’t feel I am quite seamless yet, but I feel fairly adequate. At least with smaller people. With bigger people I don’t want to feel as if I am going to “wash my bottom” over them, so I have avoided some across the body transitions with them. Any suggestions?

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Shama
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January 30, 2017 - 12:04 am
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There clearly is some overlap between yoga therapy and Thai Massage which is not surprising since Thai Massage was brought from India to Thailand originally. They are members of the same family, so to say. Definitely yoga and Thai Massage are a great match.

Regarding the transitioning, I would say that if you are small and the client is much larger, then the first solution is to just lift your buttocks higher up. If the size difference is so much that you just can’t get across elegantly, then you will have to compromise and move around the body in a less seamless or elegant way by going around it rather than across it. 

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Lori Richardson
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February 25, 2017 - 7:43 am
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Module 9 These particular hip stretches are kind of the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the hip bodywork of the Therapeutic Yoga Bodywork that I have been practicing for several years. I have even brought some semblance of this work into the PT clinic with some patients with low back pain in helping them learn how to stretch and help them listen to what can shift and release in tight spaces in the body. 

While I have used the 1-10 scale of communicating intensity, many people – myself included, tend to think of it as a pain scale, so I probably don’t use it as much in delivering this unless I really want a qualifier/quantifier. I watch faces for reaction, as I have found that people sometimes get confused about the scale, and also some people are not always honest with themselves and think they are ‘wooses’, and should be able to go deeper, or they get caught up in their story that they’have a high/low pain threshold’ . So I also teach people hand signals to either ‘come deeper’ or to ‘stop/pause’, where I can modulate the stretch/pressure for them, and that seems to take some of that fear/ego out of the equation.

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Lori Richardson
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February 25, 2017 - 8:09 am
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Module 10 I find that this module brings up some very important concepts beyond the leg stretches that I think really speaks to the heart and soul of delivering the difference between something clunky and something that just flows, like a river. I have often taught my clinical students in delivering massage work, (or any modality for that matter)on patients that they have to be comfortable themselves, as that makes a HUGE difference on the patients’ experience of their treatment. So your iteration of it here, Shama, makes perfect sense to me. I can tell the difference when I am working from a place of balance and groundedness- I have to be totally in the presence of my own body’s internal guidance. I find that even though I might not remember every technique you have shown, that does not matter. As I move into another person’s body and energy field, I can feel resistances and observe how they relax, partly because of the movement, the pressure applied, but more so as I ‘listen’: with my hands, my body. And I can only do that when I am maintaining my own good alignment. 

I also think the Blood stop/(Windgates as a Thai therapist friend calls them) kind of remind me of the properties similar to the ‘yoga mudra’ posture. Not the same area, but the same kind of idea of bathing particular nerves/nerve endings in the blood and then flushing them- a pranic special delivery! 

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Shama
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February 25, 2017 - 8:31 pm
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You are correct, you will not always get accurate or even honest replies when using the 1-10 method. It is a useful tool, but it does not replace tuning in, listening with your hands, and just being aware. The hand signal method is also a useful tool. Whatever works…

There is nothing that can replace the holistic nature of Thai Massage and many other therapeutic systems. Mechanical work is simply not enough.

“Windgates” sure sounds more benign than “bloodstop”. I am not so sure if this is technically correct, but then again, who cares. Our clients won’t care and we don’t have to get hung up over semantics either. Smile

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