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Merri Lou Dobler's Complete Thai Massage Course Notes
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Shama Kern
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February 4, 2022 - 9:58 am
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Now this was a truly eloquent way of describing Thai Massage!!

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Merri Lou Dobler
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February 6, 2022 - 9:00 am
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Module 29.  Totally different than the previous module and definitely a challenge. My daughter was ready for supine. When I showed her the picture of how to lie on her side, she moved into it quite easily. She is only 4'8" tall with short chunky thighs, but enough room for some elephant walking, quite a bit  could be done on one side ,and not as much on the other side because she got ticklish. She did not want the next technique but I did practice it with my granddaughter's doll, just to see how to do it.  I will need a real person when it works.

Without pillows this is a hard series of hip moves to do  because, as you clearly demonstrate in the video, the hip flattens out. And then there is no action taking place.  At least I see now how important being prepared with pillows for support is, and how sensitive a hip can be, because I tried it without pillows and nothing really happened. I could also not work much doing the palm circling on one side, again my daughter was ticklish. I leaned in with one forearm, however,  and felt that it was not much effort because I was up on my toes and leaning in. That technique went well. Percussion was good for my daughter, and it relaxed her.

For the stretch, my daughter lifted her leg for me, a big surprise, but I did get my forearm underneath to hold the leg, and then I could do the adduction and hip stretch. The rocking felt very good, the leg moved, it was slow and easy.  Her other leg was more difficult and we ended it there. She was happy.

I learn a lot from the times a technique is just not coming together as  I do when it goes well, and it prepares me for an improvement the next time around. 

And lastly Shama, I was thinking of the benefit of several types of pillows available to support someone, remembering the abundance of pillows I used to use for pregnancy massage!  Thank you!

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February 7, 2022 - 7:15 am
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Definitely it is essential to have several sizes of pillows handy. If you work on a yogi type, this might not be as important. But there are people where the session would go badly without pillow support. Especially in the side position, everyone needs pillow support in order not to collapse the position.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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February 10, 2022 - 7:38 am
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Module 30. Practiced pulling up the torso then added a pillow under the thigh. Elephant walking started out very nicely and helped get my rhythm going. I had to switch to using a modified fist  for the middle torso of my daughter, as it got ticklish for her with the palm.  So it really wasn't elephant walking with the fist feel, and it was slower so I could get on the erectors.  Leg support with wider knees kept the balance okay.

Above the torso I could use the  palm of the hand for the elephant walking, and also the thumb. Rocking made it easier. Coming up on one knee felt good and I remembered to stabilize my arm. I moved both hands, leaning and staying as best I could on the erectors, for which I had to slow my pace to find them, and then moving back down when indicators of tickling triggered my daughter. We both laughed at this. I showed her the picture in the transcript so she would understand what was happening next.

Her arm was in front, bent near her face, for the first spinal twist. I barely moved with just a stretch when my daughter indicated it was ticklish on her shoulder. I experimented and then retried doing it very slowly, inch by inch,  but the movement was not comfortable to my daughter. So I tried the rocking,  and it was very good at this point, and relaxing to her.  Now, I could hold the shoulder and move the lower hand up and down, lightly, and it turned out to be just what my daughter needed but the zone of ticklishness was very evident.  Luckily there are lots of other Thai massage options when something doesn't work. A change of pace for her was super good. She was done at this point and we finished without any attempt at the hip flexor, quads and lower back stretch. It was a very good lesson overall, adaptation the name of the game.  Thanks!

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February 10, 2022 - 9:13 am
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Exactly, you need lots of techniques and options and modifications to adapt to various clients. The more you practice, the more you will come up with your own modifications, even if nobody ever showed them to you.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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February 13, 2022 - 6:08 am
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Module 31. What helps me a lot is a presentation of logical steps, clearly stated and reviewed techniques, with the sequence from A to Z, no rush. I tend to want to go A,B,C and then X,Y,Z to get to the end. In these modules I've learned the value of going slow, of hearing it said in different ways, with different video angles of seeing the same technique, and always presented with a sense of humor and a smile. It makes me excited to hear "Welcome Back" and, later, " I will see you in the next video." My motivation continues at a good level and I'm drawn every day to do some aspect of Thai Massage work. 

My daughter easily got on her side with my knees up against her back. Keeping her arm back  behind her kept her in position, and she knew I'd be working on her shoulders. Circling the shoulder in both directions showed me a difference in tightness, as well as left and right shoulder differences. I could do the circling. Palming on the shoulder was easier than fingertips, but I was able to settle in and feel the security of both hands doing opposite things. One side was easier than the other side for the fingertips on the traps also. I was moving in a circle the whole time. The built-in stretch was very effective. I kept checking in with my daughter and she was calm and relaxed. I used the written steps of the process to confirm I had it right, and other than my daughter wanting to "help" with the circling of the arms, we both settled in to a very nice move.

If I went really slow with the arm circling, then my daughter let me do it by myself, and I think it might have been tight on one side and she wanted to get through that 200 degree turn. The body weight technique didn't present any problems and I was careful and slow. 

I've always enjoyed shoulder work and I most appreciate that I'm feeling good afterwards, not sore or tight.  Thanks!

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February 13, 2022 - 6:46 am
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Then you will appreciate that there is another full module of shoulder work coming right after this one. Smile

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Merri Lou Dobler
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February 18, 2022 - 8:38 am
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Module 32. I somehow lost my whole write-up for this module when I tried to submit it, so this time it will be shorter. I supported my daughter's back with me knee when able, since she ended up halfway between on her side and on her back. I was careful bringing her arm up and back and I used the technique for the less flexible shoulder.  I jumped ahead to the push/pull moves to help relax her several times.

A hand towel under my daughter's arm helped a lot with her usually ticklish responses, and it helped later with leaning on the torso. I found the towel helped with at least getting a feel for her scapula, palming circles for a while before attempting fingertips there, and then returned to a rocking for the shoulder. So, I could not release her scapula but I could tell how tight it was in most areas. Then I was able to move the towel away from the scapula and make palming circles without her reacting. Shoulder and arm traction was okay, again with a towel.  Sandwich rocking was a good way to move some of the energies out, an alternate technique for transitioning out. Oh yes, she did like pulling the shoulder back too.

Thanks Shama!

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Merri Lou Dobler
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February 18, 2022 - 10:23 am
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Module 33. I prepared my daughter for this evening's module practice and she cracked up at the picture of Shama's feet on his model's back. She was ready for it, laughing as my feet moved up and down her back, wiggling gently. She has good shoulders and a strong back. A pillow on the back was fine but she didn't want my knee on her back. I found I could balance on the one knee down and a hand on her shoulder, or on both traps. That time of kneading was appreciated by my daughter as something we do for each other occasionally when we notice the other person could use some touch, and rocking makes it all so superb.

I think I was surprised that she liked the rocking with the edge of the hands, but it had become part of that space where things are going on and all you know is that it feels good and everyone is happy. Squeezing the neck and pulling up has moved us all the way up the back to the rhythm of the shoulder girdle and this is one technique that brings some of it all together.

She easily grabbed my hands behind her and followed my directions for the movement, and I found using feet on her back can be done with control and awareness. Her back bend was good to the level she could get it. The power version would have been too much for my daughter.

Next was the standing with my legs supporting her back for the spinal twist. It was a really supportive move, bringing up feelings of protection for her, and then the back and forth, rhythm coming clean and smooth.

A very good time!  Thanks Shama.

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Shama Kern
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February 19, 2022 - 7:39 am
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"It feels good and everyone is happy"  - Include me in the happy crowd! Smile

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Merri Lou Dobler
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February 19, 2022 - 9:07 am
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My daughter requested Thai Massage for her shoulder today! She liked some of the techniques from Module 32, the side position, so we went through it again. I remembered where it was ticklish for her.She was ready to swing her arm up and around. She was fine without a towel on her scapula, amazing to me, and allowed palm first and then gentle fingertips all around the scapula. Palm rubbing and shoulder vibrations were her favorite.  She liked rocking and the first traction technique.  The alternate position to get to the scapula worked for a little palpation and even the lift/pull technique was done. Sandwich rocking went great.

We finished with some HHM, specifically for her neck on both sides, slow, easy motions, moving her hair, turning her head. She had closed her eyes now, already breathing deeper.  So, so good.

Earlier today I went to a neighbor's house to do some foot massage which segued to legs, arms and hands, shoulder, back, supine and prone, and ended with HHM. I left my notes at home and trusted that I would do what needed to be done. I might be having a conversation with her but my hands know exactly where to go and what part of the body needs some relaxation or stretching or an elbow.  I used good body mechanics, which felt natural.

I'd been waiting for this to happen, and it did, pieces coming together, a delightful time, energized at the end and no sore hands.  Thank you Shama!

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February 19, 2022 - 7:22 pm
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Fantastic, it's all starting to come together for you and the flow is happening. I am so happy to hear that! SmileSmile

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Merri Lou Dobler
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February 21, 2022 - 9:01 am
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Module 34.  Wow, am I already at Module 34? There's so much I want to do to bring this all together and to use the techniques I am comfortable with and ones that will benefit people greatly.  My daughter has good posture and she enjoyed the knee support in her back. My balance was good on my toes for the traction; my daughter laughed at how this technique is done and then she got into going forward and backward and enjoyed it. It took me a few movements of doing the leaning back and coming up to see just how relaxing this can be. 

Again my balance held up when squatting on my toes – I've come a long ways with these toes! – and I found that bending her body forward to more than 90 degrees made a difference. It's like a light bulb goes off in your head when the body gets the motion right.

It was a little hard for my daughter to clasp her hands behind her neck for the back stretch and then there were the ticklish underarms, but I had prepared by having two washcloths ready as a barrier, and then it was fine. My knees found their spot pretty quick on her back, and we did two pull backs before my daughter said it was enough.

We moved on to the traps work, her arm over my bent leg up, her head supported to the side with a slow bend down, holding it for a few seconds, and then the forearm lean in and roll. She managed a few rolls with the lean in and then said "enough mom!" We did the other side. I was able to move one leg to the front and rest her head again, which she liked, and then easy neck/traps work so the pressure was light. No elbows, just a short time for both of us to experience it.  Thanks Shama!

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Shama Kern
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February 21, 2022 - 9:29 am
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Yes, it's module 34 already, almost the end of the course. But it doesn't end here, there are 3 more bonus courses still ahead which will take you much deeper yet. Smile

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Merri Lou Dobler
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February 24, 2022 - 6:11 am
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Module 35.  Since I've learned a lot about Thai Massage, in the many weeks of these lessons, I can only imagine the questions someone has about it.  I could easily get side-tracked, however,  trying to describe one part of Thai Massage and going down a different path to talk about something else unless I plan this beforehand.  Enthusiasm can lead you many ways!

I found this section to be very useful in describing the major points of what someone needs to know as a reference point. That's what they'll remember. There will be questions from them that they want to ask, all good. As an energy system that is different from Western massage, and talking about chi for example, this is valuable information to share right up front. How to get someone comfortable beforehand and prepared for what is next, helps people relax and let go of some of the anticipation.

I know that with my daughter  and our sessions, I would forget a pillow for her bent leg sometimes, and that impacted our little sessions.  It helped her to see pictures from the transcript too, and then she would get enthused and want to do it just like the picture.

The opening discussion with someone is very useful for determining how they process information!  At my Thai Massage session with a new therapist, this person got right into techniques without asking me anything, and even though I had emailed with intro information, I realized this is important to me both as a therapist and a client. I understood the therapist's enthusiasm for Thai Massage, but the kinesthetic aspect within me came out strongly and took away from the initial Thai Massage session.

The examples of locked up shoulders and hips were great to see for an assessment and providing good feedback. Important material here, Shama, and a delightful time learning from you.  Thank you!

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Shama Kern
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February 24, 2022 - 8:38 am
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It was a real pleasure following your progress with this course, and I am glad to know that you are taking other courses as well. This will translate into being a highly qualified and effective Thai Massage therapist. Smile

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Merri Lou Dobler
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February 24, 2022 - 6:21 pm
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Shama,  this has been a thoroughly "thorough" course and I am so thankful for the course material, format for each module, learning from the other students with their progress, and your kind, gentle way and approach to Thai Massage. Yes, I am not done!

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