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Lougal and Dhivya's Thai Massage Course Notes
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Lougal
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August 10, 2014 - 10:42 pm
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Modules 17 & 18

Lougal:

Hello Shama,

Sorry for our “disappearance” but we were a bit sick in the past few days (each one giving the virus back to the other) and now we are on vacation in Europe which slightly disrupted our daily routine. All is back in order though.

I quite appreciated the “anytime any place” aspect of module 17. Also, I know many people who have arthritis in the fingers, hands and wrists. I suppose massage would be beneficial in these cases? (as long as they are not in pain when I do the massage)

I especially enjoyed the 2 techniques that work the whole length of the arm:

  1. The elephant walk and its wonderful finale where you place your palm on the client’s, apply strong pressure and then slide your hand out. Dhivya felt a lot of tension leaving her palm when I applied this move. I also experienced the same thing and we actually do the move several times, each time focusing on one part of the hand (left side, middle, right side).
  2. The circular kneading of the 3 lines along the length of the arm (which you start explaining around the 5th minute). I love giving it because I can really feel the pockets of tension beneath my fingers and I can easily find the correct pressure to apply. I love receiving it as well, especially since my hatha yoga practice includes a lot of strong arm balances.

I found the shoulder stretches of module 18 much more practical and efficient than those of module 16, be it from the perspective of the giver or of the receiver. They require much less effort.

When I do the figure 8 shoulder stretch on Dhivya I can really feel the lubrication of the joints and we hear a lot of cracking sounds. The upper spinal twist (which you start exposing around the 15th minute) is one of the best moves in the course. The way it releases the shoulders and the upper back is amazing and both I and Dhivya experience great comfort when receiving it (for instance I like to do it after a strong back bending hatha yoga practice). The 2nd part when you start working on the lower back is also great and provides deep release.

Dhivya

 

Module 17-18

I really enjoyed those modules, I especially liked the kneading techniques which work on the whole arm I could feel that is was very pleasant for the “client”. Also working on the hands which are overly solicited today in a unnatural way (cell phone, laptop etc…) was very pleasant (receiving the massage also :) ). Hence, It’s a nice flowing series easy to remember that enables to practice on different person with success (I think :)). I realize the more I give massage, the more I can “hear” the body of the receiver telling me which move should come next.

In the module 18, I just felt in love with the shoulder back stretches. (Between the 16min and 20min), they required some strength to give it but the sensation in heavenly and often I could hear some cracking. Also all the moves when you work on the shoulders simultaneously are very nice and people usually request shoulder work, so its very nice to have all those tools. 

I wanted to share an experience I had recently massaging a friend, I gave her almost a 90 min massage, she gave birth 7 months ago ( she was so tense) and she was always telling me that she doesn’t really remember her delivery. She starts to feel very emotional during the massage ( I work on purpose on the hips and very gently and the abdomen), soon she told me that she was feeling something similar to contractions, after we were done she was really relaxed almost stoned. And the effect last the whole day, she felt so happy and confused at the same time. The day after, she called me to tell me that she finally got her period since her baby was born and that she “relived” her delivery during the night.

I also had something similar with another friend who suffer from chronic pain in her  whole body since her teenage (she’s 33), I gave her a long leg massage because I felt this is what she needed. The day after, she also called me to tell me that she felt so light. Those experiences were like a click for me, yoga is there to helps us to unblock our blockages, with massage we can really do the same in another way. So once more, thank you for sharing your knowledge. I had also the interesting sensation that I have no credit, I’m just a medium …

I had a question can we ask the client to regulate the breath? I mean telling him when to inhale or exhale in some techniques?

thank you,

D.

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Shama Kern
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August 11, 2014 - 11:38 pm
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Hand massage can feel great for arthritic hands and fingers. For a longer hand massage it works better to use a little oil.

"The more I give massage, the more I can “hear” the body of the receiver telling me which move should come next" - That's exactly how it is supposed to be! Smile

Great story you shared! I suspect you will have many more of those over time.

I almost never tell clients how to breathe. Massage clients are not like yoga students who understand that breathing is very important. That would be mixing a yoga class with a massage session. Massage clients generally feel more like relaxing in a passive way rather than having to do things. 

However there is such a thing as a Thai Yoga Massage done on a yogi type, basically an applied yoga session. In such a case you can mix the two approaches and have your client participate. You might run into this as a yoga teacher.

For regular Thai Massage sessions I would not mention breathing to clients

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August 20, 2014 - 11:03 pm
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Module 19

Lougal:

A most welcome summary lesson which deepened my understanding and refreshed my memory. The last part of the module (theory) is outstanding, especially the visualization from “Quantum Touch” which really allowed me to connect with the energetic aspect of the massage (it is also similar to some Kundalini Yoga Visualizations I practice).

Question: Is it interesting to modify this visualization in the following way:

1. Inhale energy into the hara and visualize it as a ball of light.

2. Exhale the energy from the hara through the hands?

I think this would be interesting as we won’t lose the hara focus when doing the visualization.

 

Dhivya:

This lesson was a nice memory refresher, it was a great pleasure to practice such an uninterrupted flow, to see one more time how to connect everything in a beautiful "dance". The notion of quantum touch is very interesting bringing something essential to the practice of such massage. Do you advise to practice some energizing techniques before a massage or do you consider that the masseur is just a channel for universal energy (prana or chi) and thus doesn't need to "charge up" before the massage?

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August 21, 2014 - 11:38 pm
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Lougal, your proposed visualization should work just at well.

Dhivya, personally I like doing some Qigong exercises to charge up my energy. It doesn't have to be before a session, just some time during the day. This charging up will keep the channel clean and flowing without interruption.

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September 7, 2014 - 3:50 am
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Modules 20 & 21:

Lougal:

Lesson 20:

Using the elbow to massage the sole of the foot allows a very deep massage, especially for people who spend a lot of time standing up or walking.  The prone position often allows a better leverage than the supine one, which makes many stretches easier (for instance the calf stretch around the 15th minute). The prone position also allows interesting work on the lower back (for example in the rocking stretches). The final minutes of the video where you explain how to make the client feel comfortable when lying on his belly are very important because most people have no idea how to make the position cosy and end up with neck tension.

Lesson 21:

It’s good you mention right at the beginning how to position the feet to protect the knee. We were doing this instinctively so it was good to have your confirmation. The side hip stretch (around the 15th minute) and the buttocks stretch at the end are very valuable because a lot of people work this area muscularly (for instance the so called “Brazilian butt” workout) which actually tightens the muscles, blocks the hips and locks tension below an “armor”. In my yoga classes, I notice that people who work out a lot have a plenty of difficulty in hip stretches so these massage moves will be of great help. Receiving these 2 stretches after doing a strong standing postures yoga series made me realize just how heavenly they can feel.

Using the knee to massage the calves felt great! It was quite a surprise because it looks so awkward but it is easy to do a has a great effect.

 

Dhivya :

Lesson 20 :

This series of techniques unfold very smoothly.  Bu using the elbow to massage the feet, I could go deeper and save my hands. If was very nice to receive this massage after a day of intense walking. All the details you give at the end of the video in order to keep the client relaxed are very useful. If found the prone position interesting, some people need to “forget about” the massage therapist in order to really disconnect and just connect with the movement, the fact that  the client doesn’t see the therapist but just  interact  with the  touch can help.

Lesson 21

I really enjoyed this lesson, very complementary with the first lessons. The glute’s work is very useful especially to practice on people who do a lot of sport they have a tendency to tighten up this area. I really enjoyed receiving the calf massage done with the knee. Also I appreciate again the use of different body parts to massage the client. I also wanted to add that I read your article about massage and pain and seen the video, it was very interesting and useful, we hear a lot that Thai massage should hurt, I don’t want to hurt my clients! It reassured me to hear that’s also your opinion. Laugh

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September 8, 2014 - 12:00 am
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I am glad that you saw the "pain" video since this is a subject where I really want to set the record straight. Smile

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September 14, 2014 - 7:54 pm
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Modules 22 and 23

Lougal:

Lesson 22:

I very often get yoga students who are so tight in their quads that bow pose (dhanurasana) is completely inaccessible to them. For such a situation, the stretches in this module are a great tool. And they’re very easy to do, especially the first set (where we push the heel to the buttock). The action on the lower back is also very important and I believe they would be an interesting soft therapy for someone with lower back issues.

For my part, my quads are very loose so I mostly got “gentle tugging” in that area, however it was pleasurable enough to make me fall asleep. My lower back nevertheless got worked in an interesting fashion, especially in the move where both feels are placed on the buttocks at the same time.

Lesson 23:
One of my favorite modules in the course. Working on a very neglected area. A good knowledge of the sacrum helps a lot in energetic yogic practices and I have to say that by giving and receiving the massage in that module my sensitivity to this area has increased. Working on the grooves was especially interesting.
The glutes’ massage, as I said in my comments to module 21, is indispensible when people tend to work out this area to the point of stiffness because they think a “tight butt” is a good thing. The techniques in this module are a welcome addition to my existing arsenal. I really liked using the knees to go deeper.

 

Dhivya:

Lesson 22 :
The first part of the video was quite easy and pleasant to give ( till the 13thminute), the part when you sit on the client buttocks and lift the leg was trickier and I needed some time to be able to do it, really using my body weight and not engaging my lower back. The 16th minute movement is really interesting, it requires some time to become handy but it really relieves tension in the buttocks area. As usual I really like the techniques done with the knees, there are very comfortable and pleasant to receive when done properly.

Lesson 23 :
I needed some time to really find the sacrum and the grooves; I had to look at anatomy pictures to be sure if I was practicing on the correct area. (I’m still not sure, but my partner found the moves pleasant). This lesson is amazing, very complementary with a yoga practice. The massage of the buttock was smooth, but when I receive it, I felt a bit like sea sick there is a line when is not anymore comfortable and become unpleasant, but I haven’t experience that yet on many person to know if its common. Again the massage using the knees was heavenly good, and I find easy to gauge the pressure and so control the intensity of the massage.

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September 15, 2014 - 2:41 am
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Yes, the sacrum is often neglected in massage therapy, but everybody really enjoys having it worked. Same goes for the glutes.

It seems that both of you like the knee work. Once you get good at that it makes your life much easier in Thai Massage - good leverage with little effort.

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September 25, 2014 - 5:56 pm
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Lessons 24 and 25

Lougal:

Lesson 24:
Quite an easy lesson. Simple moves that are extremely efficient. I like to use them in my yoga classes on tighter students, after the back-bending part of the class.
They’re also quite enjoyable to receive and prepare the back for more powerful massage.

Lesson 25:
Excellent, simple description of the anatomy of the back. Exploring the back with the fingertips to find areas of tension (minute 6) is great. While doing it I love feeling the knots and tangles under my fingers and while receiving it is heavenly and allows Dhivya to really pinpoint the areas that need more work.
The elbow and knee work looks scary at first but really allows to go very deep in the lower back, while using minimum force. Perfect for working on the “bear-type” of clients. We did not try knee technique no. 3 (show on 20:30) on one another because the other knee techniques were already very powerful. We reserve it for when Godzilla will want to have a back massage LaughLaughLaugh

Dhivya:

Lesson 24
This lesson went quite easily. I encountered 2 main difficulties, the first one was to relax my back while doing this massage, the second was to coordinate the movement with my breath, and I’m still working on the latter. As a receiver, like in most rocking techniques, I felt sea sick again while receiving the massage, so it was not really pleasant. But Lougal enjoyed receiving it. I like that you mentioned to be careful to not “oppress” the client in the pose, I realize that people don’t always tell if they are not comfortable even when I ask, so I do my best to give them the best position for the massage.

Lesson 25:
For the move around the 9th min, the work on the trapezes, is there a particular way to put the client arm? Should it always be like in the video in order to protect the joint? The move with the elbows were very pleasant to receive and also handy. The techniques done with the knee went smoothly, when practicing on different persons, as you note in the video, I had to avoid the stronger version, it is too much to handle for many persons. Going from one side to the other smoothly will require more practice. Those 2 modules are very useful and we had the opportunity to use it after deep back bend practices and it was very pleasant.

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September 26, 2014 - 9:07 pm
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The "Godzilla" comment made me laugh, but it is spot on!

Dhivya, you seem to be one in a small minority of people who don't like rocking movements. I have had a few clients like that over the years, and in such cases you just don't do big rocking movements. You can still do motion techniques like circling, wiggling etc, but just not the big whole body rocks.

Regarding the trapezius technique, most people will naturally lie in the position as shown in the video. Even if they would not lie like that, you had to move their arms up there since if they are lower alongside the body, they would get in your way when working on the upper body.

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October 8, 2014 - 3:37 am
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Lessons 26 and 27

Lougal:

Lesson 26:

All the prone back sessions are a joy to receive and I often fell asleep during the massage. They’re also fun for me to give because I just love the “sounds” and “textures” a tight spot has and I actually feel good while unraveling the knots.

The precautions to take to protect the thumb and wrists were most welcome. Most people are so tense in their back that it will definitely be uncomfortable to massage them using the conventional techniques. I always remember your saying: If you are no comfortable, you cannot make the client comfortable.

The alternatives of using the forearms and elbows are very good and perfect for massaging big persons safely. The galloping rhythm is extremely interesting and adds a lot to the techniques in which it is used. It is quite different from the elephant walk but I find both of them useful.

The suggested way of making the client lie, so as to relieve his neck, is perfect! It also allows to massage the neck in a very comfortable way, while keeping it in a neutral position. I actually had goosebumps when Dhivya did that on me.

 

Lesson 27:

Ah the trapezius! Probably the most requested massage ever! Great addition of moves to our existing arsenal.

The up and down wiggle of the fingers (around 6:30) is heavenly. Very easy to give and extremely precise. 

Sliding the fingers below the shoulder blade (around 8:30) gives a kind of creepy sensation (both for the masseur and the client) but there’s not denial of its usefulness with the current epidemic of glued shoulder blades.

As a yoga teacher, I’m quite familiar with cobras but the massage approach gives a completely different  feeling as the client can be fully relaxed and allow the upper back to passively bend.

In short, this is another one of these “indispensable” modules, working one of the most tenses areas of the body.

 

Dhivya:

Lesson 26 :

I really enjoyed practicing this session, I like that you introduce so much elbow work it’s very handy and useful. I realize that the more I give massage the more I can “feel” which movement should come next. It’s very pleasant. I like the galloping rhythm it’s very nice to receive and nice to give.  My favorite move is the work on the erector muscle around the min 19th.

 

Lesson 27:

This lesson was quite challenging for me because it is quite demanding for the knees and if the client is heavy it’s not very easy on the lower back. I encounter some difficulties to coordinate the breath with the movement when we massage the erector muscles with the fingers. It will come with practice I think. The scapula stretch was impressive, but it’s a very interesting technique.   I was a bit afraid of bringing the hand back for the shoulder stretch but after receiving it I realize more what was happening and I think I found the right way to gauge the intensity and still stay in the safe zone. About the cobras, I found they are good for stiff person, but if the client has a regular yoga practice, and a flexible back they don’t really feel anything.  But they are very useful in class it can give the yoga student a blue print of the pose. For the last on I found it difficult to keep my knees on the buttocks while going backward.

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October 8, 2014 - 4:57 pm
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The power version of the cobra stretch, done right, should be effective even on yogi types. You can intensify it by gripping forearm-to-forearm instead of hand-to-hand. If you have trouble keeping your knees on the glutes, position them lower, slightly behind the buttocks.

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October 10, 2014 - 1:29 am
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Hi Shama, this our post for modules 28 & 29. No worries we worked for 3 days on each but we were just a bit behind in the posting :)

Lougal:

Lesson 28:
As usual the summary session allowed me to refresh my memory and get an idea on how the different moves can be combined to form a fluid and coherent session. It also made me realize just how many different techniques we have learned and how easy it is now to customize a session according to a client’s needs or morphology.

Lesson 29:
Simple module. Sitting on the client’s thigh is a great technique, more efficient than the “blood stop” we did in an earlier module. The rush of blood feels heavenly and it is easy to achieve. The rest of the techniques are variations on what we know already but from a different perspective. Nevertheless, I feel the hip massage to be easier and more efficient in the side position.

Dhivya:

Lesson 28 :

The summary lesson as usual was very welcome; it refreshed my mind and enabled me to practice in a constant flow the last series of techniques.

Lesson 29:

With this lesson we understand how to use previous techniques in different planes, which is very useful. About the “blood stop” I really like it, it’s easy to give ( it took just some times to find the best way to sit without having the sitting bones pointing) and the blood flush which come afterward is awesome.

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October 10, 2014 - 1:20 pm
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I am glad you guys are not freaked out by the blood stop and "sitting on the leg" techniques. Quite a few students are scared of those moves, but they are actually very pleasant and effective techniques.

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November 3, 2014 - 12:11 am
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Hello Shama! We have finished the course a few days ago. We got a bit behind in the posting though :) Over the next few days, we'll fix that :)

Lessons 30 and 31

Lougal:

Lesson 30:
Though we learned many back massage techniques in the prone position videos, I did not feel that the first 3 stretches taught were redundant. Since the body is in a different plane, they give a different sensation and they are also quite easy to do.

The spinal twist in rocking motion (around 14:30) was not easy to practice on Dhivya. It just felt chaotic and “wrong”. However I was very surprised when I tried it on someone else and managed to do a very fluid movement. A good reminder about how each body is different and requires different massage approaches.

Lesson 31:
Ah, we finally reach the shoulder stretches you promised us! I have to say they are well worth the wait. The side position really gives a better leverage and deeper stretches. The initial, gentle, shoulder circling is an excellent warm-up for the more powerful later techniques.

When receiving the “arm circling with shoulder stretch” (around 10:00) my shoulder often cracked with a delicious popping sound. Your long break-down of the pose is very instructive and really allowed us to grasp the action.

“Rotating the shoulder back while leaning on the trapezius” was a tricky move to learn until I stopped “intellectualizing” about it and let my body move in a circular motion. The hands immediately followed and everything fell into place. It is a strong, deep stretch, that doesn’t require such a big effort after all. The power version you give at the end is superb!

 

Dhivya:

Lesson 30 :
This lesson went very well especially for the first part; people seem to enjoy the massage of the erector muscles with the hands. For the move of the 14th minute, it was quite tricky to learn it on Lougal because of his very muscular body, but when I worked on lighter person I understood how to move, and now I really like to use it. The back stretch of the 22nd min was quite challenging because we have to carry the weight of the client, but on people with stiff back it is very nice to perform on.

Lesson 31 :
The first 10 minutes unfolds very smoothly, but the move-around-the-shoulder required some practice. For the move of the 18th min, when roll the shoulder back and forth, it took some times to figured out how to use my whole body weight, after sharing feedbacks with Lougal and some practice I finally got it, or at least I think soSmile.

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November 3, 2014 - 10:17 pm
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Both of your experiences show (again) how important it is to practice on different bodies since you will get very different results sometimes. What works well on one person might not work at all on somebody else.

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November 4, 2014 - 5:36 am
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Lesson 32

Lougal:

The first technique you give, “swinging the arm behind the head”, is very useful to us as yogis because it opens the shoulders for deep backbending work.
The wide array of scapula loosening techniques is very useful and it is a delicious feeling to gradually feel a shoulder blade floating away from the back and the fingers sinking in deeper and deeper.
Kneading, the muscle below the shoulder (right before the 20th minute) was a big surprise. It is heavenly to receive! I actually had goose bumps. It has absolutely never occurred to me that this was an area that could massaged.

Dhivya:

The first stretch is quite easy to perform but as you said good feedback from the client is essential because it can be very strong. I really enjoyed the scapula work, and it’s so nice to feel under my hands how the client’s body opened up because of this series.

The traction was also easy to do, I realize and feel more and more that there is a similar dynamic behind most of the techniques, so the further the course goes the more I feel comfortable with new techniques. The flank work was also not difficult to practice and people love it. For the circular traction, it also took several times to be able to make it smooth.

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November 7, 2014 - 11:22 pm
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Hello Shama,

Did you check our post for Module 32? We posted it 4 days ago but still haven't gotten any comment from you. I suppose you are busy. No worries :) Here's the post for modules 33 and 34.

Lessons 33 and 34

Lougal:

Lesson 33
While I agree that the sitting position is the least useful, I still think it is the best position to work on the trapezius and the moves you teach to that effect can be easily done on someone who is sitting in a chair with the therapist standing behind. Furthermore, as yoga teachers who put a lot of emphasis on pranayama and meditation, most our students can sit with their back erect and the techniques in this module can be used to give them a quick release before the seated yoga practice begins.

The neck techniques you teach are excellent excellent. The first one especially, which gives a very strong massage, a thing many people enjoy. Again, I don’t believe it would be as efficient in another position.

I absolutely loved receiving the back stretching technique (14th minute) while Dhivya hated it, feeling it too much in the upper arms and not at all in the back.

Concerning the twist, I found it too cumbersome and a bit redundant. We have learned excellent twists in the prone and supine position so I don’t think I will be using this one a lot.

 

Lesson 34
I didn’t feel comfortable with the first 2 techniques. I found them a bit cumbersome. However, the techniques, concerning the trapezius massage with the forearm (from the 10th to the 17th minute) are superb and easy to do. They allow someone with a small frame to apply substantial power in the their massage, something that kneading with the thumbs will never allow.
The shoulder stretch at the end is good. Very intense but very the intensity can be easily controlled.

 

Dhivya:

Lesson 33 :
Again this lesson unfolds smoothly, some techniques required more practice than other, for the neck kneading the proper pressure has to be found in order to let the client breathe free. For the twist, it took me some days to be able to stay in the axis of the spine.

But something unexpected happened, the first time I was giving this massage, so when I was learning it, I thought while giving the back stretch, chest opening move done with the feet:” Oh I can’t wait to receive it! It seems so pleasant!” (Note that my back is quite flexible, I’m a relatively good back bender). But it ended to be very unpleasant, I could not feel anything in my back and I felt every time a strong and sharp feeling in the outer part of my upper arms. We could not figure out how to adapt the move, we reduce the shoulder stretch but there was no difference. What do you advise?

Lesson 34 :
I could not do the first move, we try to improvise, to take it in different ways, it didn’t work out… But I didn’t have the opportunity to try to on a person of my size or less, I will try to as soon as I could. The back opening done with knee pressure is awesome, but again the proper pressure should be found to not block the breath. For the rest of the session I have nothing to add, maybe expect that the shoulder massage done while circling around is my favorite.

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November 8, 2014 - 10:04 pm
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It happens sometimes that I miss a post when many of them show up in one day :)

Dhivya, you are spot on - there is a similar dynamic behind most techniques. The principles remain the same.

Lougal, I am glad that you found an area which most people would not think of massaging, but which is effective anyway. There are more such areas in some of my specific therapy courses.

With your yoga students you won't have much problem doing the sitting position. The trouble comes in when you work with stiff, overweight people who cannot sit cross-legged. However you won't find many of those in your yoga world. 

Yes you could do some techniques while someone is sitting on a chair, but for a normal session this would really disrupt the flow of it. You could still do that if you really want to do some therapeutic work on someone who has an issue there and who cannot sit cross-legged. I have done adaptations like that when necessary.

Regarding the twists, yes, you know a whole array of them by now and can choose the ones you prefer. I also mostly do twists in prone or supine.

Dhivya, regarding the back stretch with the feet, it sounds like there is something not right in the execution of the technique. Lougal could try to pull your arms back more towards the floor and not parallel to it. Play with this move in a very gentle way and see if you can modify it so that it doesn't hurt. It should not hurt under normal circumstances. Normally the problem is the angle of the arms or the placement of the feet.

Regarding the first technique which you could not do, this one is very difficult if your partner is substantially taller than you. Just remember that not every technique is meant to work on everyone. The art is to choose the right technique for the right client.

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Lougal
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November 13, 2014 - 4:58 am
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Module 35:

We listened very carefully to this lesson and found your tips very useful. As you mentioned, with practice we are already realizing that there are different kinds of client and that we have to be careful with communication, to be able to create a field of safety and sharing.

Thank you for this wonderful adventure! SmileSmileSmile

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