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Lougal and Dhivya's Thai Massage Course Notes
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Lougal
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April 29, 2014 - 8:33 pm
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Module 2: Chi Machine

Lougal:

Masseur's perspective:

Took a while to understand the movement and correct hand placement, however watching the video again clarified many things. At one point on my third try I felt Dhivya's body unlocking and the shaking moving her in a very fluid manner from feet to head. Focusing on the hips helps a lot as well as smiling. I also noticed that the more relaxed I am, the easier it is to move.

However, I find it difficult to sustain momentum for more than a couple of minutes. Is this because I'm still beginner or am I doing something wrong?

Receiver's perspective:

As detailed below, Dhivya has inflamed knees and the movement from side to side is very uncomfortable to her. Nevertheless, I did get a taste of the technique and it was extremely pleasurable and relaxing. I was actually surprised to feel the tingling and energy movement after effect up to 15mn after the massage.

 

Dhivya's notes:

I needed to see the video several times to get the theoretical part of the move. As said before, for the moment both my knees are inflamed so it was not easy to move from side to side. Nevertheless, I tried different postures and managed to do the exercise. The motivation helped a lot. Receiving the massage helped me to understand, to feel more the movement than to think about it.  I'm not getting the move directly, it comes by phase from the lower body to the head. Really focusing and the hips and willing to  "satisfy" the receiver play a big role, it's really a sharing process. I believe that how to finish the move is very important, not loosing directly body contact, no jerky movements and let the receiverr enjoy this delightful wave of tingling all over his body. Personally when I received  the massage, I felt like sparkling water was flowing into my veins, it was very pleasant. Experiencing the pleasure of receiving the massage motives me to learn more and so be able to give those sensations. I also see the great potential of those techniques in my yoga classes.

So far doing the Chi Machine is physically demanding from one side because of my knees but I have the sensation that I'm still straining to much. I'm giving the massage to Lougal who is way heavier than me so I'm still experiencing this thin line between the active part of the massage and the letting go part, I think that maybe with practice this will allow me to practice on any subject independently of his weight or physical shape.  It is normal to find this move so demanding and hard to sustain? Or it is because I'm still engaging too much my musculature?

Om Shanti :)

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Shama
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April 30, 2014 - 4:05 pm
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Lougal, two minutes is enough for the Chi Machine. If you do it longer, it can become a little hard on you to maintain the momentum of the motion. Even one minute will normally produce the desired effect. However if you do it for only 15 or 20 seconds, you don't get much of an effect.

Also hyper extended knees are a contra indication for the Chi Machine, as are inflamed knees, since it can feel quite uncomfortable for such clients. In such cases it would be best to skip this move and instead do specific therapy work on the knees. However this is a bit beyond the scope of this course. I have an entire course just about knee therapy.

You will learn some of it in the Complete Thai Massage course, but to do really effective knee therapy you would have to go a bit deeper as this is a real specialty which normally does not even exist in traditional Thai Massage. It is something which I have created from my personal experience with clients who had knee issues.

Initially, until you get this movement just right, the tendency is to use more muscle power than necessary. Actually this does not only apply to the Chi Machine, but to the entire practice of Thai Massage. One of the secrets is that less is more - the less effort you use, the better the results will be.

I have had to un-train many therapists from using excessive muscle power. However in the beginning the tendency is that you focus so much on doing the technique right that it is not so easy to totally relax into it and flow with it. This is something that develops with practice. Once you have done the techniques enough times so that you don't have to think about them anymore, then you can focus more on flow and ease of movement.

It's not so different from yoga. In the beginning it feels difficult and clumsy, but for more advanced practitioners it feels flowing and connected and easy.

So yes, Dhivya, you might be straining too much in the beginning. It should not feel like a big effort. However it is always more challenging to work on someone who is much bigger and heavier than you are. So this can be a factor as well. Give it some more time and practice and try to focus on working with your body and not with your muscles as much as possible.

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May 9, 2014 - 9:57 pm
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Modules 3 & 4 (Foot Massage):

Lougal:

As Masseur:

As you mention in the video, everything seemed very awkward the first few times with lots of questions arising in my mind: Am I doing this correctly? Why doesn’t Dhivya feel good? Did I get it? Etc. however with perseverance and practice (we took more than 3 days to work on module 3 in order to build a strong foundation for the rest of the course), it all started to flow and interesting results began to happen, including Dhivya getting a very strong release of tension which had an effect lasting for a couple of hours. Unsurprisingly, the most challenging technique was the one were you rotate your body and massage both soles at once while shifting hand positions. I can’t say I’ve mastered it but it is improving steadily and the movement is getting harmonious and graceful.

Watching the clarifications of module 4 was of great assistance, especially when you said it wasn’t about technical perfection but about giving a pleasurable experience. The technique where you work the upper part of the foot (from the depression on the ankle down between the bones to the space between the toes) was very interesting as I could hear “pockets of tension” crackling under my thumb. Dhivya said it was very intense.

As Receiver:

Like me, Dhivya had a clumsy start but I still looked forward for every session because it was always so relaxing. My ankles are quite flexible as I sit daily for meditation and pranayama however the pleasure of receiving a massage touch was always there. After a hard day of teaching and practicing Asanas it is good to be pampered Laugh Once I nearly fell asleep. The most enjoyable technique for me was the one I described above, for the top of the foot. I love feeling the tight spots unraveling.

Questions:
-To massage the feet, legs, arms and hands is it necessary for the receiver to have an empty stomach?
-Can the receiver shower after the massage?

Dhivya :

As Lougal mentioned before, the rotation move for massaging both soles is quite challenging and It took me some time to be able to perform this rotation of the body, but the more I practice the more I learn how to use my body weight and it became easier. My knees are recovering and it became very pleasurable to practice the exercises.Smile I found some difficulties with the kneading move, the one when you roll the skin of the inner arch of the sole, my fingers become sore very quickly, I try to shift more my weight but it’s still creating tension in my hands. It is normal? I don’t if it is due to a lack of practice or if I’m doing something wrong. I will try to find another “subject” in the upcoming days to practice on and to feel in another way how to shift and use my body weight.
About the technique for the upper part of the foot, when I receive this massage it really hurt, Lougal loves it, I don’t. Should we insist if pain occurs, because it means something has to be unblocked? Even a very gentle manipulation was not pleasurable; later on I realized that I was over careful when I performed it from fear of hurting the “subject”. All the shaking movement are so nice, easy to do and I can feel that they create a nice flow of energy from the foot to the hips.
When receiving the foot massage I felt that tension was moving toward my toes, I always asked Lougal to pinch or press them. We added some intuitive moves according to the subject suggestions and requests. Is it advisable?

I also wanted to ask you, Is there any risk of tension or negative energy transfer from the “subject” to the masseur? Is it important to start with a particular side of the body first? Right or left?
I really appreciate the methodology of the video, the fourth one really clarified some stuffs and allow me to comprehend a bit more the particular dynamic of Thai massage. Thank you Laugh

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May 10, 2014 - 5:08 pm
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Question: "To massage the feet, legs, arms and hands is it necessary for the receiver to have an empty stomach?"
Answer: No, the stomach does not have to be empty for working on the extremities. However for a full body massage it is obviously better if it is not right after a big meal.

Question: "Can the receiver shower after the massage?"
Answer: Yes, no problem.

Regarding hands getting tired: If you are not used to doing massage it is quite possible that your hands get tired initially. Your hands will strengthen when you do massage regularly.

The second possibility is that you don't have enough support for your thumb and fingers. Try wrapping your hands around the foot whenever possible to reduce strain.

The third possibility is that you are using too much muscle power and not enough body weight or the movement is not coming out of your whole body. Working with muscle power will tire you quickly. Of course it could be a combination of two or all three of those possibilities to some degree.

The top of the foot can be quite sensitive. You can try working on it with the heel of the hand instead of your fingers. That feels softer. Or just use less pressure.

Adding intuitive moves is fine as long they feel good. I do that all the time.

There are some people who claim that you should start on a specific side of the body, depending on if the client is male or female. In my experience there is no difference and I don't worry about it.

Negative energy transfers can happen, and this is an often discussed subject among massage therapist. However if you are centered, focus on your breathing and work from your hara, there should not be much of a transfer. You will hear more about that throughout the course.

However there will always be some people whom you don't like working with as much, where the chemistry just doesn't work out. That's just a normal part of life. You won't have the same kind of connection with everyone. However you as the therapist will learn how to control your energy much more than the client, so you can largely guide this. I imagine that you already know a lot about this from yoga.

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May 20, 2014 - 8:30 pm
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Modules 5 & 6 (Leg Warm-up):

Lougal:
As masseur: Dhivya has a lot of tension in her legs so I had to be extra-careful not to apply strong pressure, especially on the calves. She often had emotional releases after a session. I found the module 6 rocking techniques to be much more adapted to her case. Also, I found them much easier to practice and was thus more comfortable in my performance.
I also had the opportunity to use, with nice effect, the rolling of the calf muscles from module 5 during a yoga class on a student who suffers from excess tension in that area. I plan to include several moves in my classes and thus have the opportunity to practice of a variety of different bodies.

As receiver:
Since I am bigger than Dhivya and quite muscular, she was much more efficient using the rocking techniques, which felt heavenly. My thigh often “cracked”. I also enjoyed the butterfly walk technique from module 5, which gives a stronger and more localized pressure than the forearms.
I have very thin calves that are hard to “catch” and the only technique that really worked on them was the elephant walk at the end of module 6. Combining calf and foot massage, it felt very nice.

Dhivya:

In the module 5, the pressure created on the thumbs was quite unpleasant so I found the module 6 more adapted to work on Lougal. The more I practice the more I understand and feel how to position my body, I learn to be more comfortable for practicing. Because the massage can hurt, I’m still afraid of hurting the subject, but so far it’s ok no complaint :P

I felt more in control with the module 6, the massage unfolds smoothly, but I just had a difficulty with the movement for the outer side of the tights, the coordination between the pressure of the elbow and the bend of the torso is not perfectly simultaneous. Do we have to press with the body against the tight, or just leaning forward? Because I could not really feel it when I did it neither when I received it.

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May 20, 2014 - 8:30 pm
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Modules 5 & 6 (Leg Warm-up):

Lougal:
As masseur: Dhivya has a lot of tension in her legs so I had to be extra-careful not to apply strong pressure, especially on the calves. She often had emotional releases after a session. I found the module 6 rocking techniques to be much more adapted to her case. Also, I found them much easier to practice and was thus more comfortable in my performance.
I also had the opportunity to use, with nice effect, the rolling of the calf muscles from module 5 during a yoga class on a student who suffers from excess tension in that area. I plan to include several moves in my classes and thus have the opportunity to practice of a variety of different bodies.

As receiver:
Since I am bigger than Dhivya and quite muscular, she was much more efficient using the rocking techniques, which felt heavenly. My thigh often “cracked”. I also enjoyed the butterfly walk technique from module 5, which gives a stronger and more localized pressure than the forearms.
I have very thin calves that are hard to “catch” and the only technique that really worked on them was the elephant walk at the end of module 6. Combining calf and foot massage, it felt very nice.

Dhivya:

In the module 5, the pressure created on the thumbs was quite unpleasant so I found the module 6 more adapted to work on Lougal. The more I practice the more I understand and feel how to position my body, I learn to be more comfortable for practicing. Because the massage can hurt, I’m still afraid of hurting the subject, but so far it’s ok no complaint :P

I felt more in control with the module 6, the massage unfolds smoothly, but I just had a difficulty with the movement for the outer side of the tights, the coordination between the pressure of the elbow and the bend of the torso is not perfectly simultaneous. Do we have to press with the body against the tight, or just leaning forward? Because I could not really feel it when I did it neither when I received it.

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May 22, 2014 - 12:26 am
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It is a fact that the rocking moves are pleasant to give and to receive. I use them a lot to great effect.

Dhivya, regarding your question: When you use your upper arm to pull the thigh towards your abdomen, you automatically lean forward a little since you have to get your forearm down and on the other side of the leg. So the effect is that the leg is getting squeezed between your abdomen and your upper arm.

However since the IT bands are generally quite tight and sensitive in most people, you cannot do this move too strongly anyway, so this is not a power move. But it needs to come out of your whole body. If you try to muscle this move and just work with your arm, it will stress you and it will feel terrible for your partner.

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May 31, 2014 - 2:12 am
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Modules 7 & 8 (Leg Stretches):

Lougal:

As masseur:
Module 7 is nice and easy to do, flowing very smoothly and logically. I enjoyed the “body reading” part at the beginning of it. It is probably the most important skill to acquire and I’m glad that you are emphasizing it from the beginning.

I am still dealing with the tensest parts of Dhivya’s body and I still have to be extremely careful as any excess tension causes her pain.

In module 8, the hip stretch made Dhivya started feel nauseous. Is this an indication that a deep pyscho-somatic release is taking place or am I just doing a bad massage?

As receiver of the massage:

In module 7, I especially enjoyed the walking on the thighs, excellent after a strong session of standing asanas. The hip stretch at the end (interlacing the fingers above the knee and pulling it back and in) is a superb releaser of hip, thigh and lower back tensions.

In module 8, the hip stretch initially gave me pain on the upper thigh due to compression but the next day it didn’t occur again so I suppose a long held tension has been dissolved.

 

Dhivya:

I really liked practicing those two modules; they went smoothly and are easy to remember. These 2 modules gave me the confidence to practice on other person than Lougal. Doing the massage is not as physically demanding than before it’s like my body had integrated how to move smoothly into the techniques.
I enjoyed receiving those massages even if sometimes they were kind of painful, it’s really complementary with the yoga practice. I like the fact that you encourage the masseur to always ask how it feels to the client and to scale it from 1 to 10.

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May 31, 2014 - 11:16 pm
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Lougal, when you refer to "the hip stretch" which one do you mean since there are several in this module? Personally I have never had a client tell me that a hip stretch caused them nausea. The only time when I have gotten such a reaction is when doing full body rocking moves, and this only in very rare cases. Some people can get nauseated by lots of rocking.

Try doing the stretch more gently and more slowly and see if you still get the same reaction.

Dhivya, both of you should gauge the practice in such a way that nothing is very painful. Open up the body slowly and gradually. If it is too painful, then there will be resistance in the body and relaxation will not happen. It is always better to work more gently and then add more pressure when the other person can handle it without much pain.

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June 2, 2014 - 7:44 pm
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I was referring to the hip stretch in module 8. The one you start teaching around the 15th minute of the video. I have decreased intensity and have gotten much smoother at it thanks to additional practice, so everything is ok now :)

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June 11, 2014 - 3:49 am
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Modules 9 & 10 (Leg Stretches):

Lougal:

As masseur:

Getting more and more fluid and at ease, especially during transitions. In module 9, working on the hip from so many different angles is fascinating and is an excellent complement to my Yoga anatomy knowledge. I also love the spinal twist shown at the end of the module. Every time I do it on Dhivya her back cracks with a delicious sound. I also use it at the end of my yoga classes if a student still feels tensions in the lower back.

Legs and hips are typically very stiff in most “normal” people, as I can very easily see in new yoga students. They very often get cramps in their feet and legs. Thai Massage knowledge is definitely a plus here.

In Module 10, I found the leg stretch where you place the client’s back ankle on your upper ankle and slowly walk the foot up (the one you start explaining around the 14th minute) very handy.

Centering in the Hara is very useful and moves the practice to a different level. However you seem to locate the Hara behind the navel? From what I know it should be in the lower belly around 4 fingers below the navel (the lower Dantien in Taoism). Are you adopting the navel location because it is more useful in a massage setting?

As receiver of the massage:

I stretch my legs daily during my Yoga practice but on one day where I didn’t have the time to practice I saw just how efficient the stretches were. The “extreme” versions feel quite nice. The twist at the end of module 9 is very enjoyable, especially at the level of the upper back and shoulders. Another stretch I especially liked is the one shown just before minute 12 in module 10.

 

Dhivya:

I’m getting more and more at ease with the practices, the inner logic of the techniques make them quite easy to remember. I like the analogy with the dance, the concept of bringing a beautiful flow into the practice, the more the masseur is at ease and is willing to share the more the receiver would enjoy.

Session 9 went quite smoothly, for the tenth the stretches starting at the minute 10, were quite impressive as seen from the masseur perspective ( seemed like I was about to dislodge the hip ) but when I received them it made me understand what was happening and feel that the moves were safe, and so I could adapt more my moves. A lot of my yoga students have quite stiff legs so those modules are very helpful, also we have a tendency to hold on a lot of tension in the hips some of the techniques like the rocking could be very nice to do before a hips opening class.

I found out a trick to work on Lougal, who as I said before is quite bigger than me, I put a yoga block under my knees, or just under the knee bent, I started to that for the lesson 10, and Waw! The practice became smoother as I had more leverage I could use in a more appropriate manner my body weight.

Thank you,

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June 11, 2014 - 10:53 pm
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Regarding the location of the "hara" - I used the description of my Chinese Qigong teacher. Since the hara is not a physical thing, you will find that not everyone places it in the exact same location. The same goes for energy lines. Different schools have various interpretations where exactly those lines run. It is not really that important where the exact location of the hara is since it is not a physical location anyway. If you focus in the general vicinity of the naval or lower abdomen, you will get the desired effect.

Congratulations on your creativity Dhivya. This is something which you will find a lot of use for in Thai Massage. There are always lots of ways to modify techniques or positions to suit you or the client better.

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June 21, 2014 - 2:54 am
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Modules 11 & 12

Lougal:

As masseur:
Module 11 provided me with a very useful synthesis of the work done thus far. It also refreshed my memory and made me see some of the previously learned techniques under a new light. I practiced this module on 3 different persons and each time the experience was slightly different and enriching.
I felt module 12 to be easy and fluid. I do similar stretches on some of my yoga students after a class, if they feel discomfort in the lower back. However the material here is a lot more efficient and powerful. I especially like the elephant walk to massage the sacrum and see many potential applications to it.

As receiver of the massage:

The module 11 sequence felt quite complete on the lower body and left me with a sensation of lightness and spaciousness.

Many stretches in module 12 felt very strong and provided me with an excellent feedback on the hips lower back area and what I can do to open it more in my yoga practice.

 

Dhivya:
The module 11 was very helpful enabling me to make a synthesis of the previous techniques; I had to opportunity to practice it on 5 different people, the fact of practicing on different body type enables the intuition of the movement flow to flourish, how to link the techniques is becoming more natural. People are very receptive and it makes me want to learn more to be able to give them more.
The module 12 unfolded quite smoothly, the sacrum massage felt quite weird when I received it but I could feel it was waking up something. About the stretch when you bring the sole of the foot together in front of your legs just under your knees, I realized it was too much strong for the people I work on and even for me. When I did it on Lougal the pressure of his legs on my legs was very strong, so I thought it could be dangerous for my knees so I didn’t bring his foot down, when I did it on other person it was not the case. It’s a question of dosage I think.
I want to thank you for your quick and useful reply.

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June 22, 2014 - 1:10 am
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That's so good that both of you are practicing on several persons. This brings the material much more alive since every body reacts slightly differently and often requires a different approach. You cannot really learn Thai Massage if you only practice on one person. Then, as soon as you encounter someone with a very different body type, what worked great on your one and only partner, suddenly feels totally off on the new person.

Dhivya, this stretch you mentioned is definitely a power stretch and is not meant to be part of every session. It is one of those yogi-type stretches. Always remember that all techniques are not mandatory sequences, but options to choose from.

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June 30, 2014 - 7:19 pm
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Lougal:
As masseur:
Module 13 is quite straightforward to practice but the real important thing is the “psychology” knowledge given and how to interact with the client to make the massage more effective, reminding us that we are in a “conversation”. The last hip stretch looks somewhat weird and ineffective so I was surprised when Dhivya told me it was quite strong.
Module 14 presents excellent alternatives to the strong stretches previously taught. Rocking stretches are very fun to do and will prove most useful when dealing with stiff male clients, who often have very closed hips. I had also been wondering what the best way to move from one side to the other was, so I’m glad you addressed that issue and highlighted the importance of maintaining physical contact with the client as this is done. Another valuable psychological insight.

As receiver of the massage:
I was surprised at how deep the final hip stretch in module 13 is and how wonderful it feels. In module 14 I was very relaxed by the rocking and didn’t feel at all Dhivya switching sides. It was like a magic trick, one moment she is on my right, I close my eyes for a few seconds, and when I open them again, she has magically “teleported” to the other side!

Dhivya :
Lesson 13 and 14
I really enjoyed the all the useful psychological tips of this lesson, be aware that we deal with different kind of pain, real discomfort and releasing discomfort. I notice like you said in the lesson that “be connected “with the client is the most important element of the practice as be confident and showing that we know what we do is. I also had the opportunity to massage different person those days and I tried to do it with the image of the pie and stay in tune with the Hara. I really liked when you said we should work like “a massage artist” bringing harmony and beauty into the manipulation. All the rocking or techniques like the scooping are also nice liking techniques.
The moving from oneside to another technique is quite useful, still in order to always stay connected and like lougal mentioned before, it’s also playful Smile
The lesson 14 is quiet straight forward and easy to practice, but again if the client is way heavier than me I still feel it’s quite demanding physically.

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June 30, 2014 - 8:59 pm
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I am so glad Dhivya figured out the "teleportation" - that's exactly how it's supposed to feel, namely that the client doesn't feel the side switching at all!

With way heavier clients you just have to choose techniques that don't feel too stressful on your body. Nothing wrong with skipping some!

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July 2, 2014 - 4:58 am
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Dear Shama,

We have a question concerning module 15.

For the moves you show starting the 10th minute and up to 13:30. You do them sitting on the right side of the client. Should we also do them another time but sitting on the left side?

Many Thanks,

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July 2, 2014 - 1:45 pm
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It depends. If you just do a few minutes of abdominal work, then you can stay on one side. However if you do more extensive abdominal work, then you would definitely work from both sides. In this course I don't cover a full blown abdominal session. I have an entire course just about stand-alone abdominal work which is a little outside of normal Thai Massage. It's a separate specialty.

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July 20, 2014 - 9:06 pm
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Modules 15 & 16

Lougal:
Module 15 is quite easy to perform. I liked the “hand as a listening tool” concept, which emphasizes the non-verbal communication between the masseur and the client. The belly is one of the main storehouses of stress in the body and plays a crucial role in the process of correct breathing. I especially liked the move where you place one hand on top of the other and then start to circle in the direction of the digestive process.

The moves in module 16 where too strong for Dhivya who disliked them but when I tried them on another subject it was “heavenly” and I could hear her shoulders crack and pop. A very good illustration of the fact that massage moves have to be chosen in function of the client.

Dhivya :

Lesson 15 and 16
The lesson 15 was very useful because many people around me have intestinal issues, tensions in the abdominal area and because the technique is gentle I really liked it. I’m starting to very feel the Hara and work from it, being more and more in a healing dynamic. For the shoulder work lesson 16 it was quite easy to perform, but I didn’t like the move when we put the edge of the foot into the armpit; it wasn’t very comfortable neither relaxing. As a receiver, I didn’t really enjoy the shoulders work, it’s because my shoulders are quite loose and open but practicing on other persons I realized its value.
I also wanted to asked you, many times people fall asleep during the massage it is good? Or I should try to keep them more alert and awake?

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July 21, 2014 - 2:59 am
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Dhivya, personally I love to drift off into a sleep like state when I receive Thai Massage. For me, that's my favorite sensation, and it's a sign that the therapist is doing a good job. Don't wake your clients up! Smile

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