Hi Shama and All.
I haven't watched any modules yet - just getting my feet wet, checking out how to post here, looking forward to soaking it all up. I appreciate this forum/writing structure which I believe will help keep me focused and on track.
Thanks to Cindy Gogan for introducing me to you! And thanks to Jes, who suggested we practice together. I'll get my hands on as many people as I can!
Hi Margaret, welcome to our community! You can also join our private facebook group for more interaction, if you like:
Good to hear that you already have a practice partner!
Nice to know you're there, Shama. Thanks for the quick response. I've already been added to the FB page, and am happily following that. Thanks.
Practicing Reiki has given me a palpable experience of following another's energy body. Also, I see an acupuncturist once a month to help keep my balance, so I'm familiar with the concept and experience of energy meridians and flow within the body. So I am aligned with the concept you spoke of in Module 1 regarding the focus on energy and not so much concern with anatomy. I agree that understanding of anatomy can be helpful, but it's such a relief not to have to memorize all the names of bones and muscles and nerves and ligaments! My swedish massage training has been mostly experiential and intuitive, and I feel excited about your approach.
I'm interested in learning to work on the floor. Swedish massage has been hard on my body, particularly my hands and shoulders, and when Cindy suggested learning Thai massage, I realized the benefit of using body weight more than muscle. I will move the massage table over and make a space on the floor for a mat in my massage room to practice on. I'm imagining it wants to be padded, but not too cushy. Like a very thin futon?
My toes are somewhat jammed, so will do what I can to practice stretching. Yoga practice helps - I try to get to a class once a week. I am challenged by the balancing poses, too, but recently discovered that when I focus on my breath and my hara, I am more stable. So I will continue practicing that, too.
I look forward to combining the techniques with how to move in my body with my breath to discover the art you offer. My practice is called Jamaica Healing Arts and Wellness Center (I'm also a weaver, which is another art which allows me to play with yarn and color!), so I feel we are in alignment with our purposes in expressing healing arts.
I look forward to Module 2. Thank you.
Working on the floor is definitely so much easier on your body. It might take a while to get used to it, but then you will notice that there are many advantages. You can get right on top of people and work with your body weight for more power with less effort.
And the biggie is that you can use more body parts than on a table. In this way you don't need to stress your hands so much.
In regards to choosing a mat, watch this video:
Thank you for resending module 2 when I couldn't find it. And thank you for the "choosing the right mat" video - helpful information.
I don't yet have a mat, so practiced with two yoga mats put together with a covering sheet, which worked well.
I aspire to making this practice an art, as you suggest, and understand that this will include adding spirit to technique. My biggest challenge, I think, in applying the techniques, might well be my own physical limitations. The spirit is willing and aligned.
Practicing the chi machine challenged my ankles, so I modified my position on the floor with a pillow under my ankles. That helped a lot. Perhaps a heavier mat will help with this, too. I realize you make it look very easy. After some flubbing around, I got a feel for it. I like that you suggest giving some time afterwards to allow the client to absorb the experience. When Jess did it on me, I relished the sense of energy movement in my body. It helps to learn the technique by experiencing it as the receiver, too.
Yoga mats might work for now, but they are a little hard for the receiver, and they are hard on your own feet as well. In the long run you need something a little more cushioned. Using a pillow under your ankles will help.
That's how I see it as well - as an art which is infused with energy and your spirit. That will take some time to develop since initially you will have to put a lot of energy into learning the techniques. But once they become second nature, then the art will really come into play and it will become much easier as well.
I don't really MAKE it look easy. For me it really IS easy. And it will be easy for you as well - but this takes time. When you have been doing it for 18 years like me, then it will be easy, it will flow and it will be a beautiful "dance" between giver and receiver.
But not to worry, it doesn't take 18 years to get to this point!
I trust that it won't take me 18 years to find grace with this practice!
Jess and I practiced the moves in Module 3 today. Doing the circular foot bending and twisting technique felt like patting my head while rubbing my tummy. I will continue practicing!
It's so helpful to have the moves done to me as well as practicing doing them on another person. Receiving the particular moves helps me know how to do it to make it feel right when it's my turn to do the giving... It's encouraging to have a willing guinea pig who reassures me that the twisting and pushing moves really don't hurt! And again, receiving it makes me realize that, although I surely want to be aware that I'm not causing injury, I can push more than I think, because it is exactly that stretch which feels so relieving. So I sense that there is a balance point between not enough and too much. Of course, asking the client how they're doing is a good indicator of how much pressure to apply. But I look forward to having so much expeiience with it, that I can sense the right touch.
I felt the stretches in my low back as much as in my feet. aah.
"patting my head while rubbing my tummy" - haha, funny (for me at least). Once you get this move down, it's like an entire foot massage all by itself. Just don't expect it to be perfect right away, because that's most likely not gonna happen.
You have to be patient with yourself and picture yourself 3 months from now when it all feels natural, like second nature. Finding the balance between not enough and too much is the art of it. It's the sensitivity which you will develop over time. You can't push this - it WILL happen, but not on the first try.
You are in a great situation since you can can experience it on yourself. That will help a lot. Your body will get used to it all, PROVIDED you don't muscle the moves and remain relaxed. That's super important!
Module 4, which I've watched more than a few times, was a helpful review of Module 3, working on the feet, and added some more options to those in #3. I appreciate the blocks of text in the corner of the video outlining the 8 ways to work with the feet - helps to retain the information and remember for later. I found the additional moves (kneeding; circling the thumbs around the ankles and pulling up the length of the foot; working down the tops of the feet from the hollow on top of the ankle; rotating and wiggling the ankles) easily manageable in our practice. Moving from one side of the body to the other, transitioning from one foot to the other, goes fairly smoothly for me.
I'm encouraged to keep my focus on the need for the client at the time, and not feel pressured to memorize the specific pattern of manipulations. Practicing them, however, makes sense, so that they become part of the repertoire, able to be pulled out of the hat when called for.
More leg warmups. I like the message to focus on doing what feels good. As a weaver, I was told once not to make anything that I thought would sell fast, but to make what I love, and people would want that. I found that to be true. Good advice. That applies here, too. If I'm liking what I'm doing, it will surely be felt by the client.
I appreciate you using straight-forward terms to describe body parts. Helpful for me, since I'm coming to this from personal experience and intuition, and without much formal training.
I'm enjoying using my whole body as a tool for applying massage - the interactive quality of the work is satisfying, more connecting.
There are many Thai Massage therapists who endlessly repeat the same sequence on each client. This must get really boring. But if you create something that feels good to you and the client, you establish a connection, you use your intuition, and you use your hands for sensing and not just for doing, then you will enjoy Thai Massage so much more. That's what it means to be a healing artist.
Leg warm-ups, working without thumbs. I like the physically interactive process of doing this kind of massage. I feel more involved - it's more a mutual practice than something I'm doing to someone else.
Yesterday while doing a swedish massage, the woman expressed concern about her legs being very sensitive, so I found myself doing the "push/pull" rocking technique you showed in this module. it worked perfectly for the purpose. It helped loosen her muscles without manipulating too hard. Thanks!
When Jess and I practiced these moves, I found it challenging to find just the right angle between my forearm and the thigh muscle. My thumbs are so much more sensitized to feeling where the spots are that need attention. I'm sure as I continue practicing that my other body parts will learn to sense those areas, too.
Again, there's something gratifying about implementing more physical interaction between me and the client. As you described it in another video - like a dance. I like that. I also like that you said "think and feel softness". That reminds me of when I was in a yoga class decades ago and the teacher said "soften your eyes". What a revelation!
Module 7 Leg Stretches 1
Practicing these further warm ups and first stretches felt challenging. Unfamiliar physical sensations I'm sure will become eased as I practice more.
It was a light bulb moment when you showed how the feet positions indicate the condition of the hips. Of course! It's fascinating what one can see simply by putting one's attention on it. I'm noticing more about my clients' hips in my swedish massages already.
I was concerned about pushing too hard in the right angle foot-hip walking stretch, and was glad to get Jess's feedback that I really could straighten my legs without hurting her.
Module 8 Leg Stretches 2
I loved hearing that the leg stretches are the most difficult and that the practice will get easier. Thanks for that encouragement. I have experienced the techniques getting easier as I practice them more, so I really believe you. Yay!
I also appreciate the message that if a technique is too hard, don't do it. Love that.
When Jess and I practiced the 180 degree hip stretch, we found that we didn't need to hold the knee quite so tightly to keep the foot from slipping out from the groin. Maybe because my calf and her thigh are about the same length (?). I guess it will be different with different body types. We each could hold the leg in that position with little effort and no slippage. I enjoyed practicing and receiving that stretch - feels natural to do and great to receive.
The calf massage - holding the bent leg upright so that it doesn't fall over - was challenging. The alternating fingertips part was straightforward, but I wasn't sure about my ankle against her ankle, and also not sure what you were doing to make sure the leg wasn't falling over. I guess my ankle wasn't securing her leg properly. When Jess angled my knee in somewhat, it didn't tend to fall over as easily, and her fingertips helped keep the leg upright as she did the alternating pulling motions.
We both liked the hip warm up of holding the heel with one hand and circling the knee with the other. And there was a difference in how it felt, with the heel held out the way you showed. Interesting how such nuances in position make a difference in a stretch. Is the circular motion counterclockwise on both sides?
There are several factors that help to stabilize the leg when you work on the calf. One is that you lock the foot with your leg, the second is that you angle out the client's ankle a bit (which prevents the leg from falling out), and the third is to move the knee medially a little.
The circular motion changes direction when you work on the other side.
Module 9 Leg Stretches 3
Thanks for the helpful feedback on the previous module.
These powerful stretches are taking some practice, but I think we're getting it. The concept of the hip pie helps me remember the options of which direction to stretch the hip.
Today Jess remarked that the stretching I did with her in my practice of these particular stretching techniques has helped loosen up her hips, making it easier for her to apply the techniques to me when it's her turn to practice. Great to see such immediate positive results.
Getting client feedback is clearly important, and I find as I practice, that I'm not always clear about how far to lean in. Checking with Jess gives me more peace of mind that I won't hurt her, and the suggestion to use the one-to-ten scale is a good idea for even more clarity.