February 22, 2014
I recently enrolled in the Thai Massage Course. It is a form of healing I have great interest in learning. I recently reviewed and practiced the foot massage video. After watching and taking notes on the video several times – I practiced on some of the yoga students I teach. It was helpful practicing on familiar people. It was helpful to break the technique down step by step as Shama suggested. I found my breath was very beneficial in helping me set a comfortable pace for the movements. The breath seemed to help create a soft and gentle flow – like a barometer for movement.
I look forward to the following sessions and learning the ability to connect them in a gentle healing manner.
February 22, 2014
Module 3 Foot Massage
You are so right- this course is a perfect match. I teach Iyengar style yoga at a yoga studio. I also teach in a physical therapy center – in a more therapeutic style. They are both rewarding in different ways. There is a gentleman that I teach at the physical therapy center. I started working with him as he recovered from a come lasting 3 months. He also had his left great toe and second toe amputated during this time. His recovery has not been easy for him – but he has come a long way. However he is still quite stiff. He is also very protective of the foot with the amputation. I looked so forward to practicing with him – it seemed like the perfect fit.
We started with the Chi Machine to relax him. He is a tall man, so the experience was alittle different from the previous experience. After some adjustment in my position in relation to his legs I was able to move his body in a gentle calm manner. The relaxing effect was evident in his face and body response. He expressed that it was like a moving savasana.
I was interested in stretching his feet and ankles. Understandably, he tends to favor the foot with the amputation. I started very slow and gentle – I wasn’t sure how receptive he would be. I warmed the foot with just gentle hand movements on the feet. Then I started to stretch the foot. As I moved the foot outside and inside the foot slowly opened up. Ankle rotation was again started slow – it was easier to move his foot clockwise. Lastly the stretch of the feet and ankles was done. All of these movements were initially tight in movement – but there definitely was relaxing of the foot and ankle. My goal was to encourage movement and flexibility to the ankle, feet and toes. The key was slow, long and gentle adjustments. He was surprised at how great it felt. He was skeptical in the beginning, but in the end he wants me to practice on him more. Again the breath was helpful in keep pace with the movements.
I look so forward to moving along and learning this great tradition
That’s a wonderful story, especially since you are just starting out with the course. There is so much you can do with Thai Massage, it’s so versatile and powerful.
There is plenty of material in this course to keep you busy for months, but you can even go deeper later on if you want to specialize. For example a client like you just described with the foot issue, if you would add the Thai Foot Massage course to your repertoire later on, you would be amazed what you can do with a foot. And this goes for all areas of the body.
It is really a great feeling if you can help people with all kinds of issues effectively.
February 22, 2014
There is so much information in the videos. I have watched the new videos as they are posted – and watched the earlier videos many times to try to get it down in may head. It was kind of starting to get a little overwhelming. I had to back off and rethink and relax. As you have said – you don’t have to do it all – do what feels right and works. I think I just find it all so new and great – I wish to take it all in too fast. So time to slow down, relax and take it slow — enjoy the ride……
I met with a woman for practice yesterday. She is in her early 20s and is a dancer. I teach her Yoga several times a week – so she is quite flexible.
I started with the Chi machine. It went very well. I was able to move her body from foot to head with no problem. I stopped the movement slowly and released her feet. She loved the relaxing movement of her body – and the relaxing effect on her mind.
I adjusted her so her feet were apart and relaxed out. Her arms were out from her sides and relaxed. We spoke about using her breath to release her body into the floor. To also use her breath during the massage to stay relaxed and released. We also spoke about the importance of her feed back during the massage. The massage is all about her – so she should let me know if there is any discomfort. I could adjust to a different movement that she would be comfortable experiencing. I felt she was relaxed and explained we would start with gently bending her feet out. I was aware of my breath as I rocked side to side and press her feet. I find the breath keeps me paced and relaxed.
I positioned myself to be able to place my hand on top of her feet – thumbs sole of her feet. I moved in a circular motion as I squeezed her feet using the 1-2-3-2-1 movement. This takes concentration – I’m sure it will become easier with practice. I found myself loosing the sequence- easy to recover but not quite the smooth Shama move. I’m sure it will become easier. I did like the flow of the movement
I moved back to stretch the feet and ankles. My hands were on top of here feet- gently bringing the soles of her feet towards the floor and release with my breath. I checked with her comfort level and she said she was fine. I took her stretch alittle deeper with no resistance. I did the movement 3 times and moved to stretching her toes toward her torso. I had difficulty keeping my hands even across the soles of her feet. Trying not to get under toes, but at the sole of her foot.
The last foot stretch I did was leaning forward, hands on top of her feet, to bring the soles of her feet toward the mat. She did feel some discomfort -so I back off and did not bends as far. She was comfortable with the change. There is large part of this that is being able to feel the resistance and know and feel what is a good stretch and what is too much – I hope to achieve that skill.
Leg warm ups – I worked on the left leg first. Kneeling inside her legs, pressing my palms into the top thigh area. Moving up and down her thigh, alternating my hands. I had to concentrate on the alignment of my body – keeping my back straight as well as my arms as I leaned into the muscle. I changed position to access the side of her thigh. This was more challenging. I had to re-position myself the get comfortable and relaxed – also to keep her comfortable. I pressed my palms into side of her thigh – moving up and down. Then move to the lower side of her thigh with the same palm pressing. I moved the thigh to a 90 degree angle. She is very flexible and her thigh fell easily to the side. I moved up and down her calf – palming the muscle.I moved up and down her calf as I squeezed the muscle between my thumb and fingers and rolled up. Her calf was rather easy to manipulate. I asked her if it felt right- not too hard – she said it was fine. Her face and body appeared relaxed- breath even and soft.
I moved to the other leg and did the same massage. I had to recheck my body posture. My back would tend to lose some of the straightness needed to do the massage well and stay in good alignment. The session ended as she had to leave for a previous commitment.
Watching the videos several times is helpful – I made a list of clue words of the positions to reference during the massage. I was somewhat anxious to get it right and not feel awkward. I was able to easily communicate with her as I knew her from yoga. Practice will help me organize my thoughts, breath and movements. She offered to come back during the time of this coarse for more massage.
I am so thrilled with the experience this course has brought to me. You have presented it in such a wonderful way – you are relaxed and it comes through to your students. Love it!!!
Wow, that was like an encyclopedia of a practice session!
Regarding the “smooth Shama move” – I am sure it was not so smooth when I started out 15 years ago. But with regular practice you will become just a smooth, I am sure! You are doing it right, you already watched the videos several times. Doing that along with regular practice will get you great results since you have that yoga background already.
It seems that you are the kind of person who really sinks her teeth into something that you are learning, and take your practice seriously. I am sure you will succeed with this course!
February 22, 2014
To be honest, I never liked the concept of clinical massage. It always appeared to me as lacking the soul of a healing art, as missing the essence which is what makes a massage feel heavenly versus mechanical.
I am sure it is possible to be well versed in clinical massage and at the same time have the “magic touch”, however personally I lean towards presenting my courses in a non clinical way which is how Asian massage is designed in the first place. It is all based on the concept of moving energy instead of just moving body parts around.
For me it is always more important to develop feeling, intuition and a great quality of touch rather than focusing on mechanical sequences, strictly anatomical interpretations, and clinical and scientific concepts. I realize that this is not what is taught in the western world, however I am presenting an Asian healing art, and I live in Thailand. So I am following the Asian spirit since this is much closer to my heart.
By the way this is how I learned yoga when I first started it about 42 years ago. That was before it was modernized and adapted to more western scientific concepts.
February 22, 2014
You have a wonderful way of inviting people to enjoy your videos. Your replies are always warm and supportive…… many thanks!!
I engaged my husband for this session. It was a tough session as he is very stiff and inflexible. I started with the Chi Machine – because I knew he would enjoy it. I knew it would relax him. I spoke to him about breathing – he is aware of breathing with yoga. On occasion he has attended one of my beginner classes. The effect of the Chi Machine was well received.
I gently placed his legs with his feet relaxed out. Hand on top, thumb on the soles of his feet – I did 1-2-3-2-1 massage of this feet while rocking back and forth with the movements. I’m finding the movement getting easier as practice- it’s actually relaxing movement.
Stretching the foot went well – there was limited motion to the movement. I just did it gently, slow and didn’t go deep with the movement. The ankle rotation was about the same – limited mobility so again – gentle, slow and not deep. Stretching the feet and ankles was difficult. There was resistance to moving the feet down and back towards the head. I actually stopped due to his discomfort.
I repositioned his legs to start thigh warm ups. Positioned his legs open and straight. I placed a small pillow under his knees for support as his legs not relaxed. Started to lean into the thigh with my body weight – using breath to pace. Palm pressing into the thigh and calf went well. When I moved to press my thumbs and hands in to press inside his calves and thighs, he couldn’t tolerate it. It was very uncomfortable. I thought maybe a different position might be better. I tried to move his legs into a 90 degree angle – they would not move there. I was able to bend his knees and support them with bolsters. He said he was comfortable. I tried the same approach – there was resistance. Even lighter thumb presses were uncomfortable.
I ended the session – went back to the videos. I think maybe gentle circles on his thigh and calf might have worked better. I s that correct thinking? He will do more sessions with me. I He is a good person to go back and practice – learning how to manage the stiffness in someone – and make it comfortable and relaxing.
As always, thanks for your help!
When I work with someone who has a lot of resistance and who experiences discomfort with some techniques, my solution is generally to do more motion techniques like rocking, circling, wiggling, swinging, shaking etc. Some of those are covered in the Complete Thai Massage course, and then I go even much deeper with this in my Thai Rocking Massage course.
The idea is to take your clients a little out of their comfort zone, but not push the envelope. That’s why I often use the one-to-ten questioning method to gauge the intensity of my work on particular clients. I use all kinds of verbal communication to ensure that what I am doing is not causing any real discomfort. Those verbal methods are covered in detail in the last module of this course.
February 22, 2014
Module 5 / Module 7
I partnered the practice with one of my yoga students. She is fairly flexible and tall. I started with the Chi machine. I love this technique – it is a totally relaxing leveler. It relaxes me as well as the partner. As I was doing this, we touched on breathing, relaxing and letting me know how the massage was working for her. She thought everyone should partner up in yoga practice and do the Chi machine on each other.
I started leg warm up with the left thigh. Her leg was in line with her hip and I stabilized the leg by locking her foot. I checked my posture also- trying to get comfortable and relaxed – adjusted thru the practice as needed. Initially I used minimal pressure – slowly rocking back and forth- as her muscles relaxed, I was able to apply more pressure as I leaned forward. My partner liked the way this felt and remained relaxed thru the movements.
I moved her leg to a 45 degree angle – a tree like pose . her leg fell to the side with ease. Same technique to the inner thigh and calf, adjusting my position. She was comfortable and relaxed. I used the squeeze and roll technique to the thigh and calf. I found the calf movement easier then the thigh. My hands seemed clumsy and not able to smoothly connect with the movements. I can only tell myself that this will come with practice. Again I started with lighter pressure and moved deeper with my partners input. I used my breath to relax and try to make to movements connect more smoothly.
Then moved into stretches. I moved both her legs out straight and assessed her hips. Her feet were out relaxed to the side and hips even. I placed her left leg in the tree like pose. Kneeling over her, I walked my hands hip to knee with one hand and knee to ankle with other. This took some getting used to – I started out very slowly with little pressure. I just wanted to get the feel of the basic movement. As it became alittle more comfortable, I could increase my body weight. She was very patient and said she felt a nice release.
I felt she would be a good candidate for hip rotation a s she was flexible. I held her leg in a 90 degree angle. One hand under the heel and other behind her knee. I rotated her hip gently back and forth by moving forward and back. Then I moved her leg around in a circle. First clockwise, then counterclockwise. At first the circle movement was slightly tight – I stopped and asked her to relax and breathe. When I continued she was – relaxed and enjoyed the movement. I next stretched the hip and quadriceps. I was in a half kneeling position – one hand on top of her foot and the other hand on the outside shin by her knee. I leaned forward with my body weight so he knee went toward her shoulder. As she breathed and relaxed the movement was smooth and enjoyable. I then moved her knee out to a 45 degree angle and her foot was mid abdomen – like pigeon pose. Gentle pressure so not to stress her knee. I then straighten her leg and shook it our to gently relax and set it down. I then did same to the right leg.
In the videos, you provide many ways to get the client to possible massage for them. I hope to be able thru conversation, physical and mental cues be able to assess the needs well. Working as a nurse and a yoga teacher, I am always assessing people – but this is a different twist for me. The assessment is in constant movement as you move from one technique to the next. I hope to become very comfortable with this – I know practice is the way. Thanks so much for your input – it is very helpful and supportive.
Peg Rusert ( Margaret)
Peg, I am always amazed about your comments. Either you must keep incredibly detailed notes about your practice sessions or you must have a near photographic memory so that you remember all these tiny details about what exactly you did. I imagine that you are a very organized person.
February 22, 2014
I did respond to your comment last week – you must not have received it. You are right – I am a very organized person. I watch the videos several times – I write notes as I watch and each time I watch I add the details I missed from the previous viewings. When I practice with a partner, I have my notes for reference and my lap top with open to the video near by. It is the details the you cue into your videos that I find so helpful. Like the positioning of the partner as well as my position and the movement of the body are not always easy for me to remember. – without the notes and video. I know this will all become easier and more relaxing with practice. It’s like anything learned – the more you practice the more it becomes natural.
Thanks for your support – your responses are always helpful!
Peg Rusert (Margaret)
February 22, 2014
I have so much enjoyed this course so much. Yoga and Thai massage just seem to compliment each other. My yoga teaching is varied. I teach Iyengar style Hatha classes, classes at the physical therapy center and prenatal classes. I think it will be so much help to some of the students I teach especially at the physical therapy center. I have engaged one of the physical therapy students in a previous session – as he is interested – I have scheduled some time with him next week. I can see where some of the techniques can be used on prenatal students. Are there technique that are especially beneficial to prenatal woman?
I engaged one of my Hatha yoga students for this session. She is a young, fairly flexible with a small stature. We agreed to work on the chest and shoulders areas. She laid supine and we talked about relaxation and breath. I started with the Chi machine. I love that movement. It is such a great way to relax the partner and myself. It just feels good.
I circled the outside of her rib cage with my palms. Her arms were out. I started below the armpit and gently moved down the side of her rib cage. I moved up and down the side of her bib cage- I found myself moving to fast and had to slow my pace- slow and gentle. Using my breath and body movement to find an even rhythm. I next did the elephant walk to her shoulder. With her small size, it was a short walk. Using my breath to relax my pace- I pressed into the soft area near the collar bone. It was not a broad area to work but I was able stay in the soft area and not engage the bone. She said it felt great….so that’s a good answer. I did circles to her sternum. She is small so I used just one hand. The circles were gentle in a clockwise direction. Then I began to do sternal rocking. With my hand on her sternum – I moved up and down the sternal area as I moved back and forth with my breath. Bring the movement and the breath was very relaxing. As she is small, the changes in placement were small.
It was different to work on someone with such small stature. She did find the movements enjoyable with no discomfort. She remained relaxing supine for several minutes – taking her time to come up to sitting.
Thanks again for your support and direction. I look forward to hearing from you.
Peg Rusert (Margaret)
Thai Massage is ideal for several groups of people:
- Massage therapists
- Yoga instructors
- Physical therapists
There are lots of techniques which are beneficial for pregnant women. It starts with the feet which have to carry all the extra weight. Leg rocking with some gentle hip manipulations is great as well. Then there is sacrum and lower back work in the side lying position. All the extremities are always good choices like feet, hands, head and face along with the neck.
The one thing is that it is often best to work on pregnant women in the side position, especially in more advanced stages of pregnancy. That will be covered later in this course.
You will probably also find that quite a few yoga positions which are good for pregnant women have something like an equivalent in Thai Massage.
February 22, 2014
I will be very interested in learning pose for my prenatal class. As you stated, they tend to have a fair amount of discomfort in the back, SI joint legs and feet. The class is in continual change – depending on what trimester. Anything I could learn to help them be more comfortable will be great. I did some foot massage on one of the girls – she is quite large in her third trimester. It was very informal. She couldn’t lay on the floor on her back easily. So we improvised – I had her sit on a chair and place her feet on a couple of bolsters. I gently squeezed bent her feet out and in to each foot. Gentle twist right and left. I was able to move in a circle – it was awkward because her feet were alitttle to high- but she thought it felt great. I moved her feet down and up with my hand placed on top and under her foot. To finish I supported her leg and gently rocked her leg back and forth and place it down. This was fun- it was not planned- it just seemed like she could use it. Probably not the best technique, but she loved it.
Actually when doing foot massage on a pregnant women, especially in the later stage, I would not use the techniques which are used in a Thai Massage session, but rather the Thai Reflexology method which is a separate modality all by itself. For this one the client sits in a chair, ideally in a recliner, and the therapist sits on a stool and only works on the feet.
This is not covered in this course since it is not part of regular Thai Massage. I actually have a separate course about this. You can take a look and see how it is done in the video on this page:
February 22, 2014
Thanks so much !!! I will try applying that next time she attends class. She will be so pleased.
Module 16/Module 17
My partner is a client in the physical therapy center – her therapy is related to her hip and lower back. I positioned her supine with bolsters to support her hips and back. We spoke of breath and relaxation I reviewed what I would be doing as she tends to be anxious by nature. I started with the Chi machine as it seems to relax and set the mood.
I started with her left shoulder doing the elephant walk. The heel of my hand easily sunk into the soft area by her collar bone.I moved back back and forth in the area with my breath -slowly sinking into the shoulder area. She was a little tense initially- I asked her if she was feeling any discomfort and she wasn’t, I slowed the process and asked her to connect with her breath. I next moved to her shoulder – pulling the shoulder up with one hand and pushing it down with the other. This movement took a for me to get together – once I got the movement down it was very rhythmic and flowed. I always find my breath as a good focus when I’m trying to find a flow. I moved to her arm -gentle circles using my thumb and fingers. Gentle pressure was applied with my thumbs and fingers to squeeze and circle the arm I followed the inner, center and outside lines of the arms. When questioned she felt the squeeze was too intense. I lighten up a bit and she found the movement enjoyable. I moved her arm out to be able to work the outside of the arm with the same technique. I moved to the hand next. I started with my thumbs at her mid wrist squeezed her hand making lines with my thumbs. Moving thumb and baby finger, index and ring finger and middle finger last. She really enjoyed this and I did several rounds of movement. I held her hand and squeezed and rolled her sides inward. The hand seemed to release as I did more of the movements. I rolled her thumb and fingers in my hands from top to tip. She loved the hand massage. She works at data entry so her hands are crunched a good part of the day, so to release them was so god for her. I finished the arm by holding her wrist and supporting her arm as I moved it side to side and slowly placed it on the mat. I did the same massage to the other side.
It is so much easier to work on the upper body. You are in easier positions and the limbs are just less weight. It will all get easier with practice – no matter what part of the body is he focus. Thanks for your support and I will let you know how my foot massage goes with my pregnant student. Thanks again for the direction! I am so enjoying this course – it is such a great match for teaching and therapy.
Peg Rusert (Margaret)
February 22, 2014
Module 18 transition and spinal twist
I wanted to practice the transition while working the arms and shoulders. I set up time with three different students from yoga class. I wanted to experience the transition on different people -with the sessions one after the other – to compare the experience. I wanted to learn to make the transition smooth and flow – as relaxed as it should be done. I started with a partner close to my size. Kneeling on her left side holding her left hand. Shifting my weight so I could move to the top of her head. the move was alittle stiff on my part. I held onto her left hand as I reached to pick up her right hand. Holding both her wrists, I leaned back and forward to gently stretch her arms and shoulders. She found this move very pleasant and as I moved her shoulders seemed to relax more and move easier. I leaned over and placed her left arm on the mat and shifted my weight as I moved to her right side. I did this same sequence moving from the right to the left. I wanted to stretch the upper back and shoulder area deeper. I moved to the top of her head and gently stood up holding her wrists. Pulling up and slightly on her arms – alternating both up, then left down right up, both up then right down as you leave left up and then both up. This is very confusing to keep track of- I messed it up several times and then straighten it out. Eventually I found a rhythm that worked – relaxing with it seemed to help. She was a great sport about it- which was very helpful. I released her shoulders to the mat and kneeled at the top of the mat. Giving support to her arms I gently placed them by her sides.
I used the same techniques on the other 2 partners. The second partner was a larger person and had tighter shoulders but was able to loosen up and find the movements comfortable. I was able to move in the transition from side to side, but definitely felt the difference in the weight and length of the arms. The third partner I found the deeper stretch with the alternating movements somewhat smoother but still needing practice.
Thanks for your input – it is appreciated. I tried to make my entry not as wordy. I find it hard to write less – I will continue to try to simplify my entry. I love the course and I love to try to use it with what I teach. I see the potential of the benefit of learning.
Peg Rusert (Margaret)
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