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Monica's Complete Thai Massage course notes
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MSchriner
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October 8, 2013 - 1:28 am
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I am noticing how some of the foundation in Thai Massage is very relate-able to the foundation of Swedish Massage.  The movements the therapist must make in order for the client to feel comfortable with the technique very much depends on if the therapist is performing it correctly and if the therapist is comfortable performing the technique.  My partner can tell when I am not in a comfortable position when performing some of the techniques, because she is not comfortable with the technique.  As soon as I remind myself to adjust my body positioning, my partner has noticed a difference in the technique.  

Also, when the therapist just uses pressure, the technique doesn’t ever feel right on the client, but when the therapist engages her whole body to perform the technique, the client feels the difference. The proper technique really does come from proper body movement from the therapist.  

When I do Swedish Massages, I have a tendency to do each stroke slowly.  I am finding that with each technique in the Thai Massage, it is almost as though there is an element of a passing of energy from me to my partner, almost similar to that of a nerve pulse.

I have noticed that I find myself breathing with the movements with the client’s breathing pattern.  I think this aspect comes from being in sync with my partner, as well as having to do with the yoga aspect of the foundation of Thai Massage.

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October 9, 2013 - 1:55 am
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Hi Monica and welcome to the course and our forum.

What you wrote encapsulates several of the principles which I keep mentioning throughout this course. And yes, they apply to massage in general, although they are often not taught as much as the mechanical practice of massage.

I can also instantly tell if a therapist is pressing on me or working with body weight. The difference is like between night and day. You will find many more principles that take all this even further throughout this course. From what I can tell, you will be able to relate to them very naturally. Smile

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October 9, 2013 - 2:54 am
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Module 1

My partner and I practiced again today, and I am finding that Thai Massage is a little more exhausting than I anticipated.  I feel as though I am out of shape.  My initial thoughts of Thai Massage was that it would be somewhat easier than Swedish, because I would not be on my feet the whole time, but I am finding each time I practice that Thai Massage requires more movement from the therapist than the Swedish Massage.  I am enjoying the techniques and am anxious to learn more.  

The feedback I am getting from my partner has been positive, which is exciting.  

Other than lightly stretching my own body to prepare for Thai Massage, is there any advice regarding how I can make things easier on my body until I get better adjusted to performing Thai Massage techniques?

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October 9, 2013 - 3:02 am
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Module 2

One other thing I am concerned with is a client’s joints during the Chi Machine/Rocking technique.  I have always been taught that you should protect a client’s joints, and in the Chi Machine, there just isn’t any way of supporting the knees.  While I was practicing on my partner, I asked her how her knees felt because her knees had no support.  She said her knees were fine, but if I have a client that has a knee problem, would this technique require knee support, or the therapist would just not perform this technique?  

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October 9, 2013 - 8:07 pm
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I can tell you with certainty that if done correctly, Thai Massage is not exhausting. The only reason why it would feel exhausting is if you use muscle power instead of body weight, and if your ergonomics are not right. Here in Thailand there are thousands of diminutive 5 foot tall 100 pound Thai women who work 6 to 8 hours a day of Thai Massage sessions on western clients who are much heavier than they are. And they do that year in and year out. The trick is that they work with body weight and with excellent body mechanics.

The Complete Thai Massage course is full of references to do this the right way. If you just stick with the program you will find out how to work with the least effort possible. I designed this course from the perspective of someone (myself) who has been actively doing Thai Massage sessions regularly for 15 years. So this is not theoretical material but what actually works in real life.

I am confident that you will soon learn how to work with your body in such a way that you will not feel exhausted. Thai Massage is actually easier to do than Swedish massage since you can use your body weight much more effectively by getting right on top of your clients when you work on a floor mat.

I know this not only from personal experience but I am also married to a massage therapist who is doing both Thai Massage and Swedish massage. She finds Thai Massage much less taxing on her body than Swedish massage. You will get there! Smile

Regarding your question about “protecting joints”: You need to define what you mean with “protecting joints”. The Chi Machine technique does not stress or do any harm to the knee joint unless someone is hyper mobile or has a serious knee issue in which case you would not do this technique. You should find out about any potential issues with the client’s body during your intake interview. Hyper mobile knees will be instantly visible. In that case you simply skip this technique. 

The effect that the client position in the Chi machine technique has on a normal healthy knee is about equivalent to someone sitting in a chair and putting their feet on a table or on an ottoman. There is nothing dangerous here and nothing needs to be protected. It is certainly much less stressful for the knee than running or jumping or climbing a ladder all of which a normal knee is designed to handle without problems.

There are many manipulations in Thai Massage and if you are trying to “protect” or cushion each joint you will not get very far. The real solution to all this is to develop a good feeling for what a client’s body can handle and what not, and how to apply all techniques not in a mechanical way, but in a sensitive way with good body mechanics. You will learn all this and much more throughout this course.

 

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October 13, 2013 - 8:29 am
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Module 4

I am finding that when I spend a few minutes meditating before performing my Thai routine with my partner, I can be more in sync with her breathing, and I am more focused on making my movements flow easier.  It also helps me to center mind and thoughts before hand, so I can perform with more accuracy.  The Thai foot massage routine is getting easier as we spend time practicing and I don’t have to constantly ask for feedback from my partner.  I can see in her face that she is relaxed, and I can feel how her body is responding to my movements as the therapist.

I am also finding that transitioning from one technique into the next is becoming easier.  The more I am practicing, the more I don’t need to stop and think about what technique to practice next.  I am remembering the techniques better, and am trying to get away from relying on the videos so much as a crutch in order to know which technique to use next.  I was writing the techniques down on a small card, but I am finding I do not need to even rely on my card so much anymore.  Being able to flow from one technique into the next is helping me to find my own rhythm, as well as create my own routine.   

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October 13, 2013 - 11:29 pm
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This sounds like real progress! You are really warming up to the techniques and are already experiencing some of the flow of it. That’s a good start. Congratulations!

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October 15, 2013 - 2:03 am
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Module 5

The techniques are starting to become a little more complicated, which is making practices more interesting.  It took a few tries to get my foot in the right position to get my partner’s leg to be stabilized.  I finally got it figured out eventually, but I will need some more practice on the positioning.  

I decided to begin the practice session with the Chi-Machine, before I started on the feet.  My partner was feeling a little anxious due to the kind of day she was having, so I started with the Chi-Machine to help her feel a little more relaxed, and help her energy flow from anxious, to relaxed.  It did seem to help her let go of the anxiety she was feeling when she arrived.  It was challenging at first, because her whole body was tensed, so it took a little over a minute before her body started to release all the tension.  At first I thought I was doing it wrong, but I kept making sure my whole body was moving, and I focused on her hips….then finally the tension in her body just released, and I got her whole body rocking.  She even made the comment that she felt a change in herself when I stopped doing the Chi-Machine.  I did just what was said in the video…to just let the client lay there for a few moments after the Chi-Machine, and I just let her take a few deep breathes before I continued on her feet.  Today’s practice I spent more time focusing less on technique and more on flowing with the movements of the energy of our bodies.

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October 16, 2013 - 12:09 am
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I am so glad to hear that after your somewhat challenging beginning with the technical aspects of getting started you are getting into a real groove with the training. What you are reporting is exactly the way how it should be done. Adjust things until they work and focus more on the feeling of it than only the mechanics.

No doubt some of the techniques which are yet to come will be challenging.  Excellent Thai Massage is not exactly an easy system to learn, but you are approaching it in the right way from the beginning. That will serve you well during this course! Smile

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October 16, 2013 - 1:54 am
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Module 5

During today’s practice I found myself moving my entire body with each technique.  In past practices moving my entire body felt awkward, a little foreign, and I would have to remind myself to move my entire body.  Moving my whole body with the techniques today felt right and I didn’t feel as though I was wearing myself out performing the techniques like I have been with other practices.  I felt more relaxed with the techniques, but I still find that I have to think about which technique to apply next.  As I am still learning all the techniques in the videos, I want to practice each one a few times throughout the week during my daily practicing, because I don’t want to forget about a technique, and never use it in the future because I didn’t practice it enough for it to stick with me.  Today was one of those practices where I wanted to apply every technique the video has shown so I don’t forget any techniques in the future.  I definitely had to think about some of the moves, but I still didn’t have to use my note cards to remind me.  I feel as though I am making more progress every day as I practice.  When my day gets busy, my partner reminds me about doing our practices, because she is enjoying it as well!  

I was anxiously awaiting Module 6 to arrive in my inbox today, and can’t wait for the next lesson!  The lessons are beginning to get a little more complicated with the positioning of stabilizing the client’s leg, or transitioning from one position to another.

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October 17, 2013 - 8:35 am
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Module 6

While practicing I am trying to incorporate the proper breathing with each technique.  I am finding that there is a lot to remember: proper breathing, proper body mechanics, proper body movements.  The techniques are beginning to get more complicated, and I am finding that I am going to need to have two practice sessions a day in order to keep up with the lessons.  I actually had a volunteer today who would like for me to practice on her as well, so that will help with being able to have 2 practices a day.  

The techniques are flowing easily, but I am struggling more with getting my positioning with the client down to be more difficult.  

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October 17, 2013 - 10:28 pm
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You are getting more into the groove now. And you are about to get into the most challenging part of the course with all the leg stretches. After that it won’t be as complicated anymore and you will have a good basis. The leg stretches will take a good amount of practice, no doubt.

It is quite normal that you cannot remember all the techniques yet since there are so many. That will come with time and with repeated watching of the videos.

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October 24, 2013 - 9:02 am
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Module 7

 

Practices are beginning to last longer, and the techniques are of course getting more complicated.  My partner is walking away feeling many benefits from the stretching routines, and the other techniques.  I am finding myself every now and then just focusing on the lessons, and some days focusing on an entire routine.  This week I have spent more time focusing on the more complicated techniques, and trying to get the transitions to flow easier.  Putting a complete routine together is starting to fall into place a little more.  As my partner tells me specific areas she needs me to focus on, I can identify a particular technique that has been taught from present or past lessons, and I know which technique to apply to particular areas of focus.  It is also getting easier sitting on my knees.  At the beginning I was having trouble sitting in this position, but it is getting easier, and I am to the point where I prefer sitting on my knees now because I have better posture because of it!

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October 25, 2013 - 1:32 am
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I am glad to hear that your body is cooperating better now. That’s generally what happens once you get used to those positions. And as you say you will be rewarded by a better body posture which will make it easier on you and more effective for your sessions.

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October 29, 2013 - 10:58 pm
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Module 7 

The hip assessments are beginning to get easier.  Normally, I would do the assessment while the client is standing, or walking, and only on very rare occasions while the client is laying down on the massage table.  I have been making some progress with helping my client’s hip.  Her hips seem to be tight on the right and left, and her feet have a tendency to stick straight up.  Her hips are loosening up the more we practice the techniques in Module 7.  

It was good that this lesson begins teaching assessments, because I was beginning to wonder about how an assessment works for a Thai Massage.

 

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October 29, 2013 - 11:26 pm
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Module 8

 

The stretches for the leg, the hip pie stretches specifically, are really helping my partner!  I am surprised at how effective they are!  I am finding though that it is taking me a lot of practice to get myself in the right position, and with the transitioning process.  My partner’s range of motion in her hips are increasing little by little.  We are only able to practice every other day anymore, rather than every day, but she is feeling the results of of these leg stretches.  

I am finding it easier and easier to move my body with each technique.  The movements of my body are starting to come more naturally with practicing.  I am not having to remind myself about moving and how to breath with each technique.

It is also good to see the same technique with a slight modification when the client is too stiff for a particular technique.  I had to originally modify some of these stretches for my partner before her hips were able to perform the non-modified techniques.

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October 29, 2013 - 11:35 pm
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I often do both standing and lying down assessments. There is training about evaluating conditions in this course, however a lot of that is something which you learn by practicing, applying, feeling – basically it comes with experience. 

What I am trying to say is that therapeutic assessment is a combination of technical knowledge, good observation, and a finely tuned ability of sensing with your hands and even your intuition. Some of these things can be learned from training material, and some can only be learned by lots of practice and experience.

The beginning is always the hardest, and then it gets easier, more natural, more comfortable, more flowing, and more enjoyable.

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November 6, 2013 - 9:24 am
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Module 9

I have been spending some time doing a little more assessments this past week.  The assessments are getting easier, and I am trying new ways of doing assessments, such as watching my partner walk, table, and standing assessments.  I am also doing an assessment after I practice my routine on her.  After I practice, depending on which initial assessment I used before practicing, I perform the same assessment afterwards.  I am noticing slight changes in her posture, or her walk following a routine.

The stretches have been a little difficult to master.  I am shorter and lighter than my partner, so I in order to be able to practice the stretches I have had to modify my position to be able to feel comfortable performing the stretches.  I have had to get a little creative in my positioning to make the stretch be effective for my partner, as well as allow me to use good body mechanics at the same time.   I have also been able to practice every now and then on a partner that is more my size so I am able to practice the stretches without the modifications.

Also, I watch the video a few times, and then I have been following the video as I practice.  This is helping me to understand when it is said where to place your arm and lean into the stretch better. 

 

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November 7, 2013 - 2:18 am
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The more you get better with your body weight and your positioning, the easier those stretches will become. However just remember that there are some stretches which are just too difficult to do on large and heavy people (if you are small) and there is nothing wrong with skipping them selectively.

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November 17, 2013 - 8:51 am
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Module 10

These stretches were easy to apply to my partner.  It also helped that the video showed how to apply modifications to the stretches when your client is larger/heavier than the therapist, as my partner is.  I was also able to practice the same stretches on a couple of other friends that are starting to take interest in my practicing with Thai Massage.  The other two people I was able to practice on have different body types; one is an athlete who is very flexible, and the other is slightly smaller/lighter than I am.  So in the end I was able to practice the techniques in several different ways, on varying body types.  I was able to practice the modified techniques in a very real way, as opposed to having to practice the modified technique and the actual technique in a way that would not really accommodate me or my partner.  

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