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MJ's Back Massage Course
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Shama Kern
Thailand
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December 14, 2013 - 5:36 pm
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I had a few students tell me that their posts "disappeared", but I am pretty sure that the real reason, as you mentioned, is that they hit the wrong button, or they did not hit the "submit reply" button at all. Us humans are more forgetful than my forum software. Laugh

I am glad that you keep popping up again after your hiatus periods. Actually for me this is proof that this system of teaching works. You can always come back to it and pick up where you left off. You can't do that with live courses. Either you get it right then and there, or you don't. But my courses can stay with you forever and your kids or relatives can inherit them. Laugh

There are several students in this forum who left off for several months and then came back and completed the program with flying colors. Sometimes life just gets in the way of our plans. I know all about that!

Anyway I sense your enthusiasm and appreciation for this work, so all is good!

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Mary Jean Gibbons
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January 4, 2014 - 12:26 am
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Shama  - thanks for your supportive comments re:  hiatus periods.  For me, it's been great to be able to return to the course after a particularly busy time  ( this time, the holidays, and family obligations ) and pick up where I left off.  My sense is that I will continue to review this material after the course is "completed"... the material is a great ongoing source for reviewing different approaches to take with different clients.

Some reflections on Modules #17 & 18 ~

Forward Bend #2 ( knees in feet )  is a really nice gentle variation that I've used quite a bit as it is comfortable for most folks.  I like encouraging my clients to breathe with the slow rhythmic rocking, exhaling as they come forward.

I'm familiar with Forward Bends 3 and 4 from previous studies...they are great strong stretches and I can do them fairly well,  but I find that I always  have to be really careful with my own lower back when i am in the standing position assisting someone with a stretch, so I use them selectively. 

The sitting side bend is a new one for me...I've used it on people who are my size or smaller. It's getting easier to squat on my toes...this has been good for my own feet.

With the spinal twists, I finding  I'm more comfortable with the side lying and the supine twists so far; ( also, most of my clients at this point in time are more comfortable lying than sitting, so they are more relaxed and they "receive" the stretch better ). Using the thigh to support the lower back to get more of an upper back stretch works great, and is really practical as so many people have sensitive lower backs. I'm also using the "small practitioner techniques" as you've demonstrated...a great tip that benefits me a lot.

Spinal Twist 5 (Module 18 ) is a new variation for me ...I've practiced this with a couple of small and flexible people and they enjoyed the feeling of support in the lumbar area, allowing them to feel safer to receive the stretch...I like to rock gently for quite a while with this one, then go slowly in for a deeper stretch.

The second ( "small practitioner" ) version of Spinal Twist 7 works better for me. I like the circling movement.  The "horse gallop" rhythm is very cool...I've only practiced it on one quite flexible , small person so far.  I wish I had more small people to work with...perhaps I should move to Thailand! Smile

 

 

Hope you are feeling better after the strange cold weather you have been experiencing. 

 

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Shama Kern
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January 4, 2014 - 1:42 am
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The course might be "completed", but the education and the progress never ends. After doing Thai Massage for 15 years, I am still learning new and better way of doing things all the time. Once you get really good at it, you will intuitively learn how to do it in a way that works best for you and your client. 

What most people don't realize about Thai Massage is that it is not just a sequence of techniques which are mechanically applied, but that it is a creative and intuitive process which you grow with and expand and refine constantly.

I don't know if you need to move to Thailand, but there is nothing wrong with a visit or a vacation here. I know plenty of people who have been coming here regularly for many years. The place can grow on you! Smile

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Mary Jean Gibbons
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January 9, 2014 - 1:21 am
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Yes, Thailand is high on my list of places I hope to visit!  I've enjoyed reading your articles and these have given me a deeper sense of the rich culture and wonderful people there. One of my favorite meditation teachers has a long history with the Vipassana Thai Forest Tradition of practice......so I feel a connection with Thailand although I have yet to visit physically.

 And it is so true that the learning never ends, which is a wonderful thing.Smile

Some reflections on Modules 19 & 20 ~

I've been enjoying exploring the twists and traction movements and continue to really appreciate the many modifications and versions you offer to adapt the work to different individuals.  This has been, and will continue to be, extremely valuable. Some of the techniques I have used with clients, some I practiced only with several small and flexible friends...some I have yet to try but I continue to review them visually.  I love the Complex Combo Twist (#10 , Module 19) because it's so versatile...I'm thinking this will be great to include in sessions because it has the potential to target so many areas simultaneously. The prone spinal twist (#11 )  seems like a great move to include at the end of a portion of prone back work.

With seated traction #2, ( Module #20 )  my favorite so far is the 3rd version that blend traction with back bending. I also really like #3 ( full body contact) and have found it fairly easy to do on the appropriate people. I attempted traction #4 with a flexible friend.....need to practice it quite a bit more! But she liked it anyway.

 

 

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Shama Kern
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January 9, 2014 - 9:55 am
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It's good to hear that you are doing well even with those rather complex techniques.

And yes, without all those modifications you would end up with a one-size-fits-all system, and those never work well. Smile

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Mary Jean Gibbons
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January 12, 2014 - 9:55 pm
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Well,I am doing my best..... I definitely need to continue to practice and review those more complex stretches/techniques, or I will forget them! Smile As I'm moving through the course I am imagining which techniques I am most likely to use on most people, while still challenging myself to at least try and continue to become familiar with some of the techniques that I'm less likely to use......as one never knows when they may come in handy.I'm also imagining possibilities in terms of the "flow' of a session, transitioning form muscle work to stretching, etc.

Module #21~

Traction #5 is another very cool stretch; I haven't used it in a session yet - but I did get my husband to do this one with me as the receiver, and it felt great. We do a fair amount of partner stretching together, usually with me in the practitioner role, but this one worked better with me receiving. When I am the "giver" in  partner strecth, it's always fun to see how I can make the stretch feel great for me as well.Smile

It was interesting to learn a bit about tok sen and the Thai style herb packs.  I've seen the packs but have not had the opportunity to use them yet. The discussion and demo with the massage hammer brought up some interesting points about about the benefits of heat and vibration in massage.  I have a similar device, but I have to admit I rarely use it with clients...I tend to use it for my own self care when there's no one around to work on me. It's definitely  worth considering who among my clients may benefit from its use as well. I do, however, use heat a lot in my work -  warmed stones work well.  I also like packs filled with grain that can be heated prior to a session and used in the beginning to help warm the tissues.  These packs also have a nice weight to them and work well when leaning in to tissues with them. I also have a plastic pack that gets filled with hot water that works nice to put underneath the clients back or neck. 

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Shama Kern
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January 12, 2014 - 11:26 pm
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Yes, there are all kinds of ways to apply heat. It is not limited to the Thai hot herbal packs. I have found heat treatment to be quite effective on back pain. It is much easier to get into the muscles after they are warmed up well. Here in Chiang Mai, Thailand, you can also get hot stone treatments. But unlike the herbal packs, the hot stone massage is done with oil.

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Mary Jean Gibbons
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January 14, 2014 - 10:14 am
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Module #22 

There's a lot of good info in this module pertaining to the art of massage ( as opposed to "massage mechanics", to borrow your term). Regarding stretching, I agree that it is an art and one of the most challenging things to do "just right" when working with a person. I sometimes use the expression " incremental stretching" to describe the process of gradually stretching deeper over several repetitions, and I use this approach a lot when I work.  The 1 - 10 method is another great way to monitor the degree of stretch that is "just right". My very first massage teacher really stressed good communication.  She was right! The progressive treatment in one spot was a good and fun review of all the options available to us as we work.  I liked the suggestion of using the hollow of the hand to cup and guide the elbow. I've used my hand to guide my elbow before, but not always in that position; it's a particularly helpful one.  

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Mary Jean Gibbons
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January 15, 2014 - 10:23 pm
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Module #23 ~

There are some great tips here for comfortably moving clients from one position to the other. I think this will really help with the "flow" of the session, and it really adds to the art of Thai Massage.  I definitely had the most challenge with moving my partner from side back to prone.  With practice I think I can get this to work better with more people. I'm wondering if you let people know you are getting ready to move them, or if you just do it.....I'm guessing it depends on the person.  If a person is newer to the work, I find more verbal guidance is helpful.  I was familiar with the transition from supine to sitting from previous study of more traditional Thai massage, in which you stretch the person a few times, letting them back down, and then bringing them up finally to sit.  People always love this stretch.....I just need to watch my body mechanics ( sinking in, tucking my pelvis, and using my legs, etc. ) with heavier people.

I really appreciate your comments on the power of mental energy in massage work.  I agree, and it helps not only the receiver, but the practitioner, to bring this level of awareness and energy into our work. When I am clear, positive and creative with my mental imagery and energy when working with a person, I am more energized myself, and less likely to get fatigued or depleted.  It really adds depth to a session.  

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Shama Kern
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January 17, 2014 - 9:55 pm
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Yes, I do what you mentioned. New clients need more verbal guidance, and repeat clients or very open and receptive clients don't need much notice what I am going to do. It also depends on the work space since you can't move people around unless you have quite a good size mat. In general I move people around as little as possible, meaning I don't use all 4 client positions in most sessions. I don't do a lot of whole body sessions since I mostly do very specific therapeutic work.

You completed the entire course, and I really appreciated all your thoughtful comments. You have added a lot of value to this forum, and I am sure you will put all this material to good use.

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Mary Jean Gibbons
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January 18, 2014 - 6:14 am
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   I really enjoyed the course & your creativity & commitment to quality work. I'm looking forward to continuing my practice of Thai Massage with a fresh perspective, and I'm grateful for the resources found here.  Thanks, Shama! 

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