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Merri Lou Dobler's Complete Thai Massage Course Notes
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Merri Lou Dobler
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December 9, 2021 - 12:29 am
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Module 9.  Thanks for your comments, Shama, for a lightbulb goes off in my head at your insights. I also want to point out the value of the  "New/Updated Topics" link above, which I finally discovered two weeks ago, because I can read what else is going on with people and I get to know them a bit as well as feel more like a part of a community, with your responses too.

I sat at my daughter's Hip-Hop class yesterday and read through all the transcripts, realizing there is a lot more to pick up in putting the pieces of the puzzle together.  It helps to read/hear things several times.  It is complex but a lot of benefit to the practitioner too.

After having a Thai massage last weekend, I recognized some of this module's stretches from having them on me. Good timing on my part! My daughter graciously let me work on her yesterday afternoon, a leg warm up then into the leg stretches. My flexibility is a little better as I move around, and legs/feet move more easily, not quite a sliding motion with much agility, but definitely improving. The continuity with a different stretch then feels better. This carries over to my yoga classes too, of better flexibility. 

Leaning in and out while working with someone, with their leg, with the foot secure, feels good. I check my notes, specifically for hand placement and switching the legs or moving a leg back for more power, aligning myself first.  There's always a variation that seems easier to do but all of them are practiced at least once.

It definitely needs to feel secure in the last pose if the client is new to this, of pushing her leg over and a lift of the lower back. Of course for my daughter it can be ticklish.  Rocking seems to be a motion that automatically moves you to then lean in, press but soften, and press down on the shoulder for a further stretch.

I've been fortunate to have my daughter for at least one session with the new techniques. Will seek out a neighbor on the weekend so I can practice again.  Thank you.

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Shama Kern
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December 9, 2021 - 8:33 am
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Yes, it is a complex system - no doubt about it. And that is what will give you an amazing skill set in the end without much competition, because not many are willing to stick with it until it becomes part of you and begins to flow naturally and intuitively.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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December 12, 2021 - 9:14 am
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Module 10.  Life has its challenges but Thai Massage is one challenge that I am getting bit by bit better at doing and understanding, and I am intrigued with how it is changing me, both physically and mentally. As well as spiritually, for the connection with a daughter or a neighbor during a session is a very strong, good one, especially in these difficult times, something to plan to be able to do for people in the future. I have hope. Thanks, Shama, for this course.

My support team for practice were not available this week, both health issues for my daughter, and then for my friend there was a family member's death. But I have my granddaughter's baby doll and the doll is very helpful, especially with the Section II transition of the body from one side to the other. Slow and awkward right now. Strength and balance will come with time, whoa! Energies that need to move through the body are loosened with these moves; they are not typical moves for the average person.

I practiced Module 9 first and then repeated the last move as the first move with Module 10. I enjoyed the review of technique, good body posture, breath, whole body benefit, going slow, being soft. Anytime there is rocking, then I feel good, and when it feels natural then I can settle into it easily. The fascia stretches, as with the hands on her shoulders and my knee up by the shoulder, combined with the spinal twist, giving a lot of information on the stretching capability the person has as well as their overall fascia tightness and health, which can be compared to when you move to their other side for assessment. I can see the need to ease off with the strong or very strong stretches to make sure the person is okay, and to talk to them, maybe choosing a number and keeping it a very reasonable stretch. I liked the gentle spinal twist.

The advancement from the bent knee out for the Hip Pie to the straight leg out for a wider angle is definitely more intense. I look forward to seeing how my toes can hold a person's foot for the adductor stretch. There are so many ways to support the person while giving them a good stretch. The Blood Stop will be interesting to do on a real person too. I like the last calf stretch with the 1-2-3-2-1 because it has been done several times and will indicate to the person that we are returning to the starting position.  Thank you.

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December 13, 2021 - 8:38 am
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"Energies that need to move through the body are loosened with these moves; they are not typical moves for the average person." - So true, it is a new way of moving. I have heard from many course students that it helped them to become more flexible and more aware of their own bodies. Thai Massage benefits both the giver and the receiver.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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December 15, 2021 - 9:48 am
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Module 11.  This module did several things to help me learn about Thai massage. I saw how the practitioner kept returning to how his body helped him both connect with himself as well as to the client, returning again and again to an awareness of settling back in, while having a continuous awareness of the client. It's a broader awareness when the techniques become integrated, when it all becomes integrated. Transitions were fascinating to me because it will take lots more practice for a sense of smoothness and ease in moving around to support the body, and to breathe.  Time and practice again! The flow was good in the video, the contact was steady, the rocking looked soothing.

There were times when I didn't remember a move I was watching, and I was okay with that. The second review of the video I was back to practicing just the transitions.  I noticed that the first 6 modules sequencing seemed to come easier than the more advanced ones, so a step-by-step working is still needed.  I see where I need to look at the techniques again so it doesn't feel like a disjointed sequence of move-to-move. I'll get there!

The next review of the video went back and forth, from the sequencing, transitioning, actual technique, to just listening to what is being shared as important.

I spent time organizing  the printouts of the modules in a binder, and my notes for each module, and I went back in to my computer to my notes to clarify some of the steps in the later modules. Some of the practical aspects were thus incorporated both into my notes and then into me. I recognize this is the real learning taking place in an online course, and my motivation to tackle what seems a little harder. I may know it's a tougher day today but tomorrow I will be back at it.

Not sure why I went from third person to first person, but it's all here!  Thank you!

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Merri Lou Dobler
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December 17, 2021 - 1:21 am
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Module 12.  Hip stretches, starting with calf muscle stretches. I could do them all on my daughter, using her left leg since it is more flexible and is the leg she wants me to work with. I liked version 3 of the stretch because it felt more supported with her leg pressed up against me. Her hamstring was a little tight and I let it back as soon as I saw her facial expression and felt some resistance. My daughter liked the version with her feet against my belly and I was able to do part of the sequence with her. I think compression and traction are so important. She let me move her knees up to stretch the hips with a gentle movement, and I could even move her feet down to my legs for a gentler version but she did not like moving her knees down. She wanted to stop as soon as I stood up, which was just fine, so I jumped to the circling of her legs with my hands while my feet were next to her hips. Then I jumped to the last moves, already prepared for her choices. She likes the Chi Machine so I shook her legs while standing and then did sideways, which she also liked.

It worked for me too and I know I need to feel secure in doing poses, especially if I am standing. My daughter was used to me being at her feet or sitting/bent leg by her hips, so this was new for her as well.  Thank you

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December 17, 2021 - 10:33 am
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There are several of these review videos that are meant to put it all together in a flow. Many course students have mentioned that every time they re-watch a previous video, they learn something that they had missed the first time or forgotten in the meantime.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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December 18, 2021 - 8:49 am
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Module review, supine lower body. Thanks for your comments, Shama. I went back to the module review, enjoying the music and the rhythm that you accompany it with for a good session. I figured out that I had chosen the alternate techniques that I liked and thus disregarded the other ones. Then I saw you doing those that I was less comfortable with,  and I thought it would be good to just practice them again. And it was easier, as you might expect.  I also am going to rewrite my notes, since I don't need a full page for some of them anymore. Key words will do. If I move my body and legs in the next sequence and set it up comfortably, then I can do calf or thigh/hamstring massage without worrying if my hands/forearms are in the correct position. It will feel better for me if I'm doing it correctly, and also breathing. It's easier to go with the rhythm.

My daughter accepted a modified version of the review. She still has ticklish spots, which is fun, but she let me set up for each sequence for the legs/feet and press/lean in once. Then I moved on, so I was done in record time without doing much work at all. It did give me a better idea of the total sequence and also the massage techniques that work for my daughter. One step at a time. Thank you.

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December 19, 2021 - 3:31 am
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Good to hear that you warmed up a bit to those techniques that you didn't feel good about originally. That will happen throughout the course. Smile

If you keep going back to previous lessons, you will pick up things that you had missed, the techniques will become easier, and you will feel more comfortable with it all.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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December 20, 2021 - 9:38 am
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Module 13.  You are so right, Shama, about going back and picking up things missed!  This weekend I went back to modules 5,6,7 and watched the videos along with making short notes. It was a step in making progress because I didn't need the PDF, which was useful when I was needing many details. Only now I had a better sense of where legs and hands go for placement and the technique. Thumb roll up versus palm roll up, thigh-calf-thigh-calf-thigh-outer leg.  Butterfly and Elephant walk. Forearm lean over and press. Forearm turned, palm out, lean. Foot placement and angle of bending the knee, all of these were coming together slowly but surely.  I liked the Hip-Pie and am needing to work on the final technique of module 7, with the fingers clasped around the knee, going to the opposite shoulder, or rotate it, angle it.  When I go to modules 8-9 to practice again, I think it will go better.  I felt I had absorbed a lot with 5-7 so I jumped to Module 13, my second review of the video and application of it.

I practice with my daughter, very modified, and this week my yoga friend is ready for another session, which I need for practice. I  see value in remembering the breath, softness, hara center, good posture, and I laughed this weekend when I was cleaning dishes and doing them  in a smooth rhythm. Nice carry-over.  The higher-degree of flexibility with the Hip-Pie looks amazing for those who are very flexible and I will be super cautious with my yoga friend as to her level of flexibility.  I've got a level of restriction myself. You emphasize leaning, rocking, and communicating with the client. So very good, thank you.

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December 21, 2021 - 6:57 am
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"I  see value in remembering the breath, softness, hara center, good posture, and I laughed this weekend when I was cleaning dishes and doing them  in a smooth rhythm." You picked up on many essentials, and they translate into your everyday life. That's a great integration! Smile

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Merri Lou Dobler
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December 23, 2021 - 7:06 am
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Module 14.  This section on hip rocking was clearer to me than the sections that were hip/thigh/knee/calf/foot, and I liked the rocking a lot. It did take some experimentation each time I did this lesson, to get it right, but it felt comfortable and good.

My daughter is still ticklish, so I had her put her hands on her hip bones and I covered her with a towel from waist to upper thigh, and then pull her hands out while I replaced them with mine on top of the towel. Her body rocks easily and she relaxed. She didn't like the half back arch stretch so I just placed my hands on her knee and on the hip instead of the lower back. It was a modification that worked for her and I got a sense of what to do.

Again, a bit of a challenge with transitioning from one side to the other, and the trick of dropping the body back quickly to sit back on the heel was good. One side is more flexible than the other and that flexible side can be closer in to the body with a smoother up-and-down movement.

Staying connected with the client is very important and something I learned in massage school years ago. And with a massage table you might be walking around the end of the table to get to the other side and interrupting the massage for just a moment, while when on the floor it can keep you focused on the massage, getting to the opposite side faster.

Sections II and III are always good!  Thank you.

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December 24, 2021 - 9:11 am
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Yes, on a table you cannot have seamless transitions, but on the floor you can have a session without any disconnect as long as you master the transition moves.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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December 27, 2021 - 3:31 am
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Module 15. I remember taking a weekend lymphatic massage CE course years ago. I was unfamiliar with abdomen work and was not so comfortable with how to do it. I had little experience actually doing it too.  This Thai abdomen section was so much gentler and smooth; I enjoyed practicing with my daughter. I connected with her breath, my hands were warm, it was before dinner. Her belly moves well with her breath. I made the "plate" and did the circular movement. I came back to my breathing and then found the wave to be a good technique. Hips-to-ribs was gentle movement.

Bent toes on one of my feet bothered me a little with the ribs move, so I switched over to my other foot.  Supporting my arm against my knee really helped with taking pressure off my arms. Circling on the outside of the ribs again showed me to stay low so it didn't start a tickling episode. I pressed in gently to bring a different feel to it. It felt comforting to do this movement.

My daughter was again reaching to the end of her tolerance. She let me put a hand on her chest on the sternum, but no motion. Also, I could put my hands below the collarbone without movement. The finale of elephant walking on the shoulders turned out nice! Thank you.

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December 27, 2021 - 11:20 pm
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Abdominal work can feel a little strange initially, but once you get the hang of it, it is incredibly relaxing. The actual Thai Massage version of belly work that is taught in Thailand is brutal and intrusive - I can't stand it! That's why I came up with something much more gentle.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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December 29, 2021 - 8:46 am
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Module 16.  The first time through some of the modules it is a piece-by-piece learning of parts of each of the techniques. Get the breath and parts of the individual segments of movement and then move on. The second time through seems so much better, getting a little bit more, finding the rhythm and rocking and breathing. Going slower. The third time is the best, as you move from one to the next, the body shifting more easily, the movements coming better, the puzzle coming together just enough to feel a confidence level that is motivating.  I again like how each module starts with the last move of the previous module. Leaning in onto the shoulders for the soft spot gets easier. Moving from the outer shoulders to the inner part, for the neck, makes sense. Noticing her head moving as you move shows it is a good move for the whole body. Isolating the shoulder, getting to the traps went okay; I had to adjust a bit so my arms weren't feeling too extended. Yep, you need to make space so the arms can move the shoulder. I'm not quite there yet but will get there.

I liked the edge of the foot in the arm pit with a gentle rocking forward and back and it will take some more adjustment to set this up to be comfortable. The directions are really clear on how to do that and I like how it makes sense. My daughter did not like me bending her arm back, with her elbow up, hand on the floor, so I modified it, supporting her arm with a gentle rolling motion with both hands. Am looking forward to trying this with another adult to see how it goes. I could swing her arm. She didn't like the stretch of one hand on the elbow and the other on the thigh; it's a lot of unknown movements for my daughter. She is clear if it feels weird! I didn't do the last two moves with her but that is okay. Another day. Thank you Shama.

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December 29, 2021 - 10:11 am
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No doubt - there are a lot of unknown or unusual moves in Thai Massage. It is important to practice them on several people, if possible, to get a good variety of feedback. What doesn't work well on one person might work great on another. That's how it will always be in actual practice. And that's why we should never become attached to ONE sequence, ONE way of doing it, because that won't work very well. We need the intuition to do the right thing for each client, skip what doesn't work, or modify it so that it does work.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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January 2, 2022 - 3:46 am
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Module 17.  Arm and hand were great; I wish I had someone straightening out my right arm, specificially the subscapularis for rotator cuff! I was careful with my daughter for her sensitivity in both shoulders, soft spot, and easy to find. She chose her right arm and later declined her left arm, willing to relax for the sequence once. Kneeling was great for my posture and pressure, and the work was left/right, circling. I got into the breathing with the circular motion. I liked the sliding off the hand, and had to make a slight shift in my position to ease off the wrist. Yep, the angle makes a difference. The three lines diagram for sen lines was interesting to review and helpful to visualize these energy lines.

The hand sequences required me to check my notes but went well with the pauses for checking the notes. My daughter surprised me with the rolling and squeezing of the fingers; she is used to me doing a "snapping" of the fingers at the tips of the fingers, and she opened her eyes to look at me, as if to say, aren't you going to do that?   I laughed and included it for her. I liked the wrist techniques/thumbs slide out, which my daughter liked too, esp the pull back and the circular wrist movement.  Will be practicing these.  Thank you Shama.

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January 2, 2022 - 4:51 am
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I could easily get a one-hour arm&hand massage (I love it) if I could find someone who is able and willing to do that. There is even more to it than shown in this course, and that's why I created an entire separate course just about arms and hands for those who want to be able to do a full arm and hand session.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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January 7, 2022 - 12:49 am
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Module 18. Wow, it was like watching a dance to see the video with the transition from  one side to the other, going around the head.You make it look easy!   I practiced with my granddaughter's doll first and then worked with my daughter.  It was not a clean move and I was aware that I can move more easily from left to right than right to left. This tells me which side to start on. My daughter liked the traction, while I was sitting and leaning back, and although she didn't want me standing for long, she let me get into position, a whole different feel than sitting down.

I had to adjust a couple of times to get my knee at her deltoid and my other foot over her leg to support her, with a bit ticklish response, but she again liked my clasped hands over her shoulder.  What a cool spinal twist, just a small twist but fine with her. She resisted the next one, with my foot edge between her bend leg,so I stopped and said I would move my hands down her back for a little pull and then I'd stop. I found the location and did a little movement to get the feel of it. That was good.

I didn't get to do the sequence with my hands under her shoulders, doing the circle, but it looked like an amazing set of moves. It's all a challenge, I am motivated to get to these too, and today is time to get outside again to shovel snow!  Thank you so much.

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