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Paul Thomas Complete Thai Massage course notes
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Paul Thomas
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December 16, 2015 - 12:07 pm
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Module 1

Coming from a western training approach of massage, which centered heavily on anatomy, origin and insertions, and physical therapy assessment techniques to pinpoint problem muscles, I always felt there was something missing. Sometimes I would give a client a great massage and they would get off the table feeling wonderful, and other times they felt like they had just been mugged!

I have come to realize (through reflection on Shama's explanation in module 1 of energy flow, breath, and therapists comfort) that whenever a client felt like they had a relaxing and relieving massage, it was probably because I had intuitively connected to their energy by being in tune with mine. Its a different mindset to the medical, scientific massage approach I learned, but one I think will ultimately be more beneficial to both me and my clients

I am no doubt going to have to practice being more present like this, as it is not hard to have your mind drift off on to trivial topics when doing a massage (particularly if you have clients booked in back to back) and start doing an automatic, unconscious, mechanical treatment. But it is something that I think is probably the missing link to giving a great massage, and one of the main reasons I took this course with Shama.

Another thing I will have to practice - kneeling! Although I have been massaging for only a few years, it has all been done on a table. Adjusting to the floor, particularly with my tight knees, will take some practice but I look forward to the challenge!

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Shama
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December 16, 2015 - 10:05 pm
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Hi Paul, welcome to the Complete Thai Massage course. It looks like you got it all figured out, but just to make sure we have all the t's crossed, I always post a reference to our Certification Check List at the beginning of each thread:

Certification Check List

You made some valid points about the different working style of Thai Massage compared to western massage. Throughout the course I will talk quite a bit about that as this is what makes Thai Massage feel really good. You don't need any more clients get up after the treatment "feeling like they had just been mugged"! Laugh That one made me laugh!

Regarding adjusting to the floor and getting your knees used to it, you might want to watch this video:

Getting Used To Working On A Floor Mat

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Paul Thomas
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December 21, 2015 - 11:32 am
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Module 2

Thanks for the "Getting used to working on a floor mat" link Shama. I'm definitely going to need some practice on that! Smile

The reminder on good body mechanics in this module is always helpful for me to remember. I know when I massage I sometimes tend to start 'muscling' a technique when the client asks for it a little harder or if I find a particularly tight area. Relaxing and using bodyweight is something I have to be continuously mindful of when massaging so hopefully one day it will become natural.

Shama - do you think practicing Tai Chi, Qigong, or even yoga is useful for learning good body mechanics? If so, which one would be most useful for your style of massage?

The chi machine was good too. I tried it on my partner and had her try it on me. It was very relaxing! Kind of like the feeling you have when falling asleep in a car or train on a long trip. After a while your mind slows down and you start to drift off! I also had my partner stop doing it abruptly once too, just to see what it felt like. Now I know why you reduce the rocking slowly. Kind of like the car slamming on the brakes - it wakes you up out of your pleasant daydream.

Looking forward to the next module. Thanks Shama.

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December 22, 2015 - 1:41 am
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Personally I have studied and practiced yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong. I have found them all very helpful, and some of what I teach in my style of Thai Massage has come from those styles. I think yoga is the most helpful since Thai Massage originally came out of the yoga system. Thai Massage and yoga are a great combination.

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Paul Thomas
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December 27, 2015 - 8:40 am
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Module 3

This module required a bit of practice but it came together reasonably quickly. I liked the continued emphasis on using your entire body when massaging and I'm starting to notice how much more relaxed it makes you personally feel as opposed to pure thumb and muscle work.

I practiced on 2 partners and both found it very relaxing. Combined with the chi machine they almost fell asleep! Its a good opening sequence. All I need now is someone to do it to me.

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Shama
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December 27, 2015 - 11:03 pm
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Yes, we all wish that we had someone doing it on us. There are many things which I teach which I had never done to me since I created my own style, and nobody else here in Thailand knows how to do it. That has always been a predicament for myself and many of my students. 

Some course students are lucky enough to have a practice partner who is interested in learning it as well. That's the ideal situation.

Pure thumb and muscle pressure work is a killer program for a massage therapist - terrible for their bodies!

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Paul Thomas
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December 28, 2015 - 8:44 am
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Module 4

This was a good module. The idea of 'concept vs mechanical' massage made a lot of sense. You must have been watching me Shama as I was trying to memorize the techniques you were teaching in the previous module! It was good to let go of all that and get back to "feeling" what was going on under my hands and rolling with it (even if I did have to keep reminding myself to relax and use my whole body!).

When I first learnt massage we were taught a sequence to follow on how to give a Swedish type relaxation massage. Then in the remedial course we were taught individual techniques in isolation on how to "release" a muscle. Although it definitely has its good points, I think this is where western massage falls down a bit as it takes too much of a medical or scientific approach and forgets what the whole idea, or concept, of a massage is. Learning to feel the muscle and what the clients body is telling you is a skill that normally takes time to develop (and some therapists never develop it!), but this module really hit it home for me.

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Shama
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December 28, 2015 - 10:47 am
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Wow, that's good news and some useful realizations for you! You nailed it when it comes to the difference between western massage and Thai Massage. Thai Massage has plenty of techniques, however the focus or approach is totally different. It is more in tune with our feelings and our intuition without which massage can often feel quite mechanical.

Thai Massage is also easier on the body of the therapist which can be a huge factor in our career. However if Thai Massage is done incorrectly, i.e. with muscle power, it is not only stressful but can cause real problems with your body. So learning Thai Massage is a real art, not just the memorization of a sequence of techniques.

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