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Pia Bager, Complete thai massage course notes
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Pia Bager
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September 6, 2020 - 1:26 am
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Module 2, Chi machine

Thank you, that was absolutely brilliant. I found it quite easy to get my guinea pig (Paul) to rock from side to side from head to toe, but initially I had my hands to close together and Paul pointed out that he could feel my knuckles banging together - although I hadnt even noticed! So that was good feedback. I also played with the speed of the rocking, which I suppose can be quite individual what people like? Paul liked it quite fast and vigorous. I use rocking and shaking in my work practice but normally Im standing and I felt that, with his heels in my hands and those resting on my thighs, there was a much closer connection to the client, if that makes sense. Pauls first question was "Is this Thai massage?" haha yes he is very English! Followed by how long I was meant to be rocking him for because he wouldnt mind if it lasted ages. Initially he had his arms over his chest but at the end he let them flop out to the sides. Overall treatment session 1 went really well, I will have to practice getting into the start position more fluidly, but that will come Im sure.

Thank you for a simple start to the course:)

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Shama Kern
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September 6, 2020 - 5:59 pm
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Hi Pia, welcome to our community and to the Complete Thai Massage certification program. At least I am assuming that you are posting here to get a certificate. I am not sure because we have not received a certification registration form from you.

If you are only posting for feedback and interaction, then you don't need to do anything. But if you want a certificate, then please fill out the registration form and submit it. You can find this form on the Certification Tutorial page which you can access by clicking on the 'Certification Information' banner in the sidebar of your membership portal. If you scroll down the page,  you will see the form.

Also, assuming that you want a certificate, please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification checklist to make sure that it is all correctly organized:

Certification Checklist

Regarding the rocking speed of the Chi Machine, this depends on the weight and mass of a client. A small and light client will rock faster and easier than a large and heavy client. It takes a bit more effort to keep the motion going if someone is large and heavy, naturally.

To answer Pauls' question, the Chi Machine is actually not part of traditional Thai Massage, and neither are the many rocking movements which you will learn in this course. I have the created many rocking movements and integrated them into my style of Thai Massage because rocking moves have many advantages over straight and linear moves, they feel great, they are easy on the therapist's body, they are often much more effective in releasing tension than linear moves, and client's typically love them. 

Since I have created these rocking moves and taught them to thousands of therapists over the last 20 years, many western Thai Massage therapists have added rocking elements to their Thai Massage style. In Thailand, however, you won't see that. Thai Massage has developed and grown outside of Thailand in several ways.

So the rocking moves are an addition and improvement over the strictly traditional style. 

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Pia Bager
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September 8, 2020 - 10:44 pm
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Thank you Shama for pointing out the certification registration, hopefully you have it now?. I was also a bit confused about the forum posts, yes Ive watched all the introduction videos now I think:) and I realize I didnt write anything on module 1 as I viewed that as a intro chat, but I see now that that was not correct sorry. Ill will add that in below if thats alright. Regards Pia

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September 8, 2020 - 11:19 pm
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I got your registration, thanks! You can add any observations about module 1 below, however as it really is mostly an overview and introduction, it is not a big deal if you skip it.

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Pia Bager
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September 15, 2020 - 9:47 pm
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Module 1, introduction

In my massage work I work on a table and I use elbows, hands, fingers and knuckles etc so going on the floor and using my legs and feet will be quite a new experience for me. I am hoping to be able to offer floor thai massage separately and also to incorporate some thai moves into my sportsmassage table work.

I am definitely a fool for using power instead of my weight so this is all good reminders of things I need to work on in general. And body ergonomics yes that is me to a T aswell: When I get too carried away with fx petrissage, before I know it I have rounded my back and shoulders into a very closed off working position. Probably also in a twisted position. BAD bad bad. So Im very happy you are pointing these things out. 

Kneeling isnt something I do much so that is bound to be difficult at 1st on the ankles, but I genuinely like squatting!- getting out of the squat is a different story!  

I have some large clients and also some which are pregnant, they are usually sidelying, but it is more to reach their back than the things you will be teaching Im sure. Regarding the breath work I only really use that on the back but not as a standard which is a bit sad really, I am looking forward to the video where you teach how to use the breath when doing fingertip friction/vibrations etc.. I sometimes look for the clients breath but 9 out of 10 have so swallow breathing its hard to feel/see. Actually most of my clients would benefit more from learning to breathe instead over having a massage!

See you soon

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September 15, 2020 - 10:51 pm
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It sounds like you have identified some good benefits already - the weight vs muscle power issue and the better ergonomics. We focus A LOT on that in this course, so no doubt you will become an expert in these areas!Smile

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September 17, 2020 - 8:32 pm
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Module 3

Looks so simple yet so difficult 🙂 Thank you for the very good instructions and Im also grateful for the pdfs, very handy to have for referencing.

The first move went well with the side to side leaning, but then the 2nd with the foot twist I found it tricky to not squeeze to hard whilst bending the foot out. Leaning on the feet with the circular movement is nice though, that is as far as I am with that move for now. 

Move 3 with the bending feet in and down I found it difficult to feel when it was enough / too much weight. Paul didnt like having his feet pushed in (or out) by much although it felt like they could move more? maybe a lot more of movement 1 and 2 to warm the ankles, knees and hips up? Getting the right distance to his feet to do the lean-on as well took a few trial and errors too. I see what you mean about the +90 lean on but then there is a lot of body weight on too or I lose my balance there. 

Move 4 and 5 with the straight flex and stretch of the ankle are my favorite and easy too thank you. Alternating felt very nice.

Move 6 with the leg under Pauls leg, got me tangled up in my own arms and legs! It flowed well on one side and not at all on the other ha! Ive practiced this one several times now but many more are needed. The push/pull rotation part is good, I tried doing it in both directions although that started more because I was going the wrong way at 1st, but found that was quite good as well so that wasnt so bad afterall:)

The twists I use in reflexology too, so yeah something I knew already, although never thought of doing it in the 1,2,3,2,1 order but I might add that in:)  

The last move with the grab wiggle was Pauls favorite, so he had me do that over and over again;)

Pauls feedback was he found some moves hard on his knees, he is very tight, so more warmup maybe or just be gentler with the stretches? 

Thank you:)

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September 18, 2020 - 2:22 am
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Some feet resist inward bending, and some resist outward bending. Some people have stiff hips which prevent leg rotation which will cause problems with the knee when twisting the foot out. These are all things that you will pick up when you practice on a variety of people and gain experience with how people react and how their feet feel. It's definitely not a one-size-fits-all system, but a system which requires sensitivity and adaptation to what works best for particular clients. Smile

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September 21, 2020 - 10:08 pm
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Module 4, Foot massage 2

The add ons in this video were very familiar with my reflexology so that was lovely and simple. Except the 1st one where you bend the clients knee a little and sit either side of their foot. I just couldnt get comfortable there. Dont think I had the angle between his leg and my legs right. To be retried;)

I personally really like the circling on the inside heel that is always very soothing, and the heel cupping with ankle rotation is so simple yet super nice too. I also do a foot shake, I have tried to explain it here : kneel below one foot, keeping hands and fingers straight, "cup" the foot so one palm touches the medial side and the other palm the lateral side. Now quickly, as if making a fire with a stick bushman style, twist the foot one way followed by twisting it quickly the other way, repeat.... It shakes the whole leg, feels great;)

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September 21, 2020 - 11:04 pm
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I also use the same foot shake which you outlined above. I am not sure if I demonstrate it in this course. It is definitely in our Thai Foot Massage course.

I also do another kind of foot/leg shake which I demonstrate later in the course. The more methods we have in our repertoire, the better. Smile

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September 30, 2020 - 4:34 pm
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Hi Shama yes I have now seen and tried your knee/leg shake, I am naughtily further at watching the videos and practicing than writing in the forum.

Module 5

Ive tried the butterfly thigh move on 3 different people now and the difference is amazing. One screams the minute I start leaning forward and the other 2 says "more pressure!", I prefer working on the 2 less tense girls so I can get to try the moves better than on my tense boyfriend.

When I do the thumb rolling up the calf and thigh, I keep going into massage mode a bit too much I think and start squeezing too much, I lean in alright but then bend my arms silly me. and the pull and lean technique I think Im doing it, but not in the right timing or something is out, cause it doesnt flow nicely ah. Squeeze and roll up the ITB that one I got down 🙂 yeah.   

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September 30, 2020 - 5:10 pm
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Module 6

Uh I really enjoyed this class and so did my friend. She is a foot taller than me and her legs are very long, so when I had her knee bent and her foot locked in my groin, it was quite different from when I tried it on my boyfriend- who is about the same height as me. 1st thought was "What am I suppose to do with all that leg?"Laugh She is also very flexible and can take good pressure which makes it more fun.

Its funny sinking into someones legs in this way, cradling a leg like that.

The ITB technique I found a bit tricky, but in hindsight maybe I didnt have their legs close enough to my hip grove because I remember struggling to get my belly on their leg if that makes sense.

The anterior calf lean to, I also tried on a client in a sports massage the other day, and it is really simple and deep, much easier than my normal thumb friction style. Also in a massage session this morning I just put my knee up onto the massagetable to block someones shoulder from rolling yeah, never thought of that before, so this it is taking shape in my little head after all.

When I did the elephant walking on the foot and calf I used a pillow under the knee, and then my tight boyfriend liked this too. I also like the elephant walking it very relaxing for me aswell! 

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September 30, 2020 - 11:36 pm
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That's quite typical with Thai Massage that you get very different reactions from people. Over time you will become very good at sensing what works best for which type of client and skip the stuff does doesn't work. And, as you have already figured out, one of the secrets of good Thai Massage is to modify the techniques for different sizes and weights and types of bodies. 

For Swedish-style massage that's not really so much of an issue since everyone is just lying still on the table. But in Thai Massage both you and the clients are moving around so much that it takes quite some skill to figure out what works well and what doesn't for particular clients.

Anyway, you will find that there are tons of examples of this kind of finetuning in the course. Smile

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November 3, 2020 - 10:16 pm
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Module 7, Leg stretches 1

Hi Sharma sorry Ive been writing the notes but forgetting to post them, so here are a few catch-up modules in a row sorry

Good pointer about the feet tells a story about the hips, funnily I mainly notice people who have their feet turned out when they lay down, which some of them also have whilst standing. But several of my clients definitely have their feet turned in or dropped arches when standing but I haven't paid attention to what their feet are doing when the are laying down!

I started with the gentle hip rock, then the elephant walk and then the butterfly stretch on my boyfriend and friend. My friend liked how it lifted her other hip off the floor when doing the butterfly stretch on her knee. Said it released in her back as well.

The foot walking on the hamstrings was interesting. Yes sitting in the right spot takes a bit of moving backwards and forwards especially if you just worked on a short person and then on a tall person.

I really like the knee raised rocking stretch at the end of this module, Ive previously done it whilst holding under the knee pit on the calf muscle but your way gives a lot more stretch and lift, thank you:)

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November 3, 2020 - 10:39 pm
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In yoga it sometimes takes me quite a few rounds of sun salutations to loosen up, would you do a similar repeated sequence in Thai massage? I mean would you do for example the butterfly hip stretch (M7) and then a pie or two and then back to the hip stretch a few times to loosen up, or is it more one warmup/stretch into another, dont look back kind of set? Obviously there are time limits and booking requests hanging over your head too...

Module 8, Leg stretches 2 

Working on the calf muscles is always funny, some people dont feel a thing and others, myself included, are so tight and sore there. I really liked just leaning back whilst twisting the calves, the calf shake and squeezing are nice too but my favourite in this module is definitely the 180 pie. I have tried it on a few people and sometimes I get a bit too worried about what they r thinking with having their foot so close in my groin (male clients mainly) which is silly I know but anyway I just put their foot in my arm like in your “large client position” Im not so tall anyway so this works well with most. I haven't had any with impingement in their groin yet luckily. With the Pie I have been doing quite a few circles/shaking/ wiggle warm-up pies and even those who are very flexible says that also feels very nice. I do struggle to feel how deep you can go in the stretch and although I do try to communicate with the person, sometimes they don't even know what they are feeling, and just says “yes that feels ok” ahh! Some people u have to drag the information out off haha. One girl Ive been practising on lately is a Pilates instructor and so she understands her body very well, this is definitely very helpful.

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November 3, 2020 - 11:10 pm
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Module 9 – Leg stretches 3

I am learning more little clever tips and tricks in this course than in my sports massage course thank you:) For example this little trick about bouncing to trick the client to relax, never even thought of that, and it totally works:). Incredibly many people are really unconsciously tense...

In this this module I especially like the twist. The difference between people was amazing to see. Some could easily touch the knee and shoulder to the floor simultaneously, others could not even cross the foot over the other leg, most could cross the foot but then struggled a little when doing the actual twist. The back lift rock is especially lovely. I also had quite a few cracks and crunches which is mostly nice;).

If you have a very tight client, would it be good to twist her one way and then the other, back and forth a few times to loosen up?

Only one client could do the hamstring extension, on this technique there was no doubt about how far to push the stretch, most peoples legs started “shaking” quite quickly.

One woman was really flexible in the pie135 degree but then not at all in the pie180 which I thought was quite interesting.

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November 3, 2020 - 11:51 pm
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Module 10 – Leg stretches 4

I liked the extra variations for the twist. I did the twist on a guy today and when I put my hands on his chest/shoulder joint I realised he was soooo tight there like nothing Id felt before almost as if he had had rocks injected! Needless to say he couldnt do any of this modules stretches. The calf stretch I hardly had his foot of the floor, the pie 270 not possible either bless him. My pilates friend she was very good however and could do pie 270 with the heel on my knee but even she did say that that was a very good but intense stretch. For the pulling pie270 not many could even get their leg there so I did it with their leg more bent, some much adapting you can do. Some clients would resist the pull and one even rolled onto her front, she thought that was what I wanted her to do:)

The foot walk side split move is very clever, and easy to feel when you have reached their bind.

In the beginning of this course I was quite frustrated at working on people who are so tight I felt I couldn't really try the moves but now I realise that a lot of people are crazy tight so really it makes sense practising on those who reflect real potential clients and not just the few flexible ones. Uh which bring me to ask about the calf stretch actually, one lady is very hyper mobile and her leg bends in a horrible way, I mean she is not in pain, and I have heard some yogis say that you should stretch to the individuals limit etc but it does make my stomach do loops haha. Her legs do this even when doing Chi machine...

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November 3, 2020 - 11:56 pm
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Regarding your question about how long to do certain techniques - like you said, there are time restraints for most therapists. In my career I almost always worked for myself and I never did less than 2 hour sessions because I did not want to have to cram it all in in one hour. Often my sessions turned into 2.5 hour sessions although I only charged for 2 hours.

So in my case I did often take the time to work longer on a certain area, if it seemed necessary. Sometimes, when I noticed a problem, or the client told me about an issue, I asked the clients if they wanted me to do a full body session or focus more on the problem area even if that meant that I wouldn't be able to work on their entire body. Pretty much all the time they wanted me to do the focused approach.

This works best on repeat clients where you can focus on specific areas in specific sessions. In once-only shorter sessions you can't do this, of course.

Regarding 'pulling the feedback out of client's noses', one thing that really helps here is the one-to-ten questioning method. If that hasn't come up in the course yet, it will soon. Also module 35 is all about communicating with clients. That will be very helpful with this issue.

You could do the twist more on very tight clients, but the danger is that they feel overstretched like in a workout session and lose the relaxation effect. That's not what you want. Releasing tight people takes time and can't and shouldn't be rushed. Also some people are just so inflexible that you can't do much about it unless they come to you on a regular basis.

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April 21, 2021 - 9:26 pm
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Hi Sharma 

Im very sorry Ive been absent, but now Im allowed to practice again I will get to it.

Module 12 – hip stretches

So many options for the calf stretches thank you. I quite like the feet-in-belly one and the seated version were you grab the foot. Todays client was very flexible and for her it the version 3 with the heel on my shoulder that gave her the best stretch. For the hip stretch I asked her if she could feel the difference between the knees together or apart, she confirmed knees apart was stronger. Is the client ment to keep their lower back on the floor, as my lady rolled up so it almost became a spinal stretch too? It felt very strange/scary to sit on her legs, yes good communication is vital there. The elephant sacrum walk is very good but for me and for the client, I did that for quite awhile as she thought it was very pleasant. I did struggle a bit with the piriformis stretch were you lean your leg on their leg, because it was hard to feel how much I was leaning on her, but she told me “WOW thats a gooood stretch” haha so that told me!

The first hamstring stretch is super cool, but the power version wasnt possible on this lady despite she is very flexible in other ways. I got a little confused because her legs could not wrap around like your client does, it was quite funny at the time! I see now when I re-read your notes that maybe I forgot to step forward! I will try on her again.

The 2 shakings of the legs are very nice to do and she also said that she thought they released tightness in her back and hips so winwin.

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April 22, 2021 - 11:35 pm
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Regarding your question about the lower back coming up - yes that is normal and will happen.

You can try the hamstring stretch with stepping more forward, and that might work, but don't be surprised if you find people who just cannot wrap their legs as shown in the video. This stretch is really not suitable for everyone. There are many stretches in Thai Massage that don't work for everyone. I show them all in the training, but ultimately you will have to decide what works for a particular client and what doesn't. You will figure that out with practice and experience. Smile

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