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Reality Winner Complete Thai Yoga Massage Course Notes
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May 8, 2017 - 10:41 pm
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Pre-Module 1

 

Hello. My name is Reality Winner and I am particiapting in this course to build upon my 200-hour RYT from Charm City Yoga in Baltimore, MD. 

I am a former US Air Force linguist and I am excited to begin a new career as a yoga teacher and fitness instructor, and two other certifications I am also working on include the Level 1 Olympic lifting coach, as well as the ISSA Fitness Nutrition certs. Thai Yoga Massage has interested me since last year, after a fellow yoga teacher began to use techniques on me to help with a back injury I was trying to practice through. The techniques can be extremely healing, and, as an athlete struggling with physical pain, I know how helpful they can be, especially when doctors or physical therapists' only solution is bed rest. Hopefully, this course will allow me to provide some relief to clients, and also provide them a space where their yoga practice allows them to find true restoration without feeling like they are helpless against any injury or ailment. 

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May 9, 2017 - 1:25 am
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Welcome to our forum and the Complete Thai Massage course. We have many students with a yoga background, and many yoga teachers, fitness instructors, Pilates instructors and physical therapists who use Thai Massage successfully in their work. It lends itself beautifully to all these applications, along with being a stand-alone therapy system of course.

To make sure that everything is organized correctly, please take a moment and read our certification check list:

Certification Check List

Thai Massage has been used for centuries in Thailand to help people with many physical issues. It is very effective due to it's unique combination of massage and yoga elements.

If you are interested to learn more about the Thai Massage and Yoga connection, we have quite a few articles on our blog about this topic:

The Thai Massage and Yoga Connection

By the way, I changed your display name to match your certification registration to keep our records straight and to make it easy to find people.

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May 10, 2017 - 9:58 pm
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Module 1

This Module presents itself as an extension of the introduction. Here, the differences between Thai "Yoga" Massage and Western-based practices are emphasized. Contrary to a clinical, anatomical approach, Thai massage focuses on energy lines, or Sen lines, in the body. I am interested to learn more about the energetic lines in the body throughout the course. As my background and interests are mostly based in yoga and Olympic lifting, I approach the body from a very literal anatomical perspective in regards to musculature and alignment. In the video, it is shown how the therapist relies on their own energy to connect to that of the client and that breathing in sync with guided movement and pressure is essential, and that this skill is more important that technical applications directed by knowledge of the exact muscle groups and locations. Module 1, therefore, presented right off the bat what is likely to be my greatest challenge in practicing Thai yoga massage. I tend to be over technical and feel like I need to be able to look at another human and see a diagram from an anatomy textbook in my mind. In addition to outlining this key difference, the techniques for contacting the body are laid out. Of the 8 methods introduced, the only one I am most concerned out is percussion, so I am looking forward to seeing further guidance on it in future modules. The positions of the therapist, kneeling, sitting, squatting or standing are already familiar to me, as they are essential to safe yoga adjustments while teaching. Overall, I'm ready and interested in seeing further specifics and sequences. 

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May 10, 2017 - 10:31 pm
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You are right with your observation that your strong focus on anatomy and clinical approach might be an interesting challenge for you. The good news is that it will give you an expanded perspective and another layer of awareness of how to deal with a body/mind/energy system.

Western therapists often try to force Thai Massage into the western clinical model. This doesn't work so well, because it leaves out some of the essence and the beauty of Thai Massage. I have intentionally de-emphasized the clinical/anatomical approach in this course and focused on a more intuitive, creative and energetic approach, since this is how all Asian healing arts work.

Disregarding this is kind of like trying to force a round peg into a square hole. You might find this Asian perspective refreshing, mind-opening and holistic. There is certainly nothing wrong with having anatomical knowledge and clinical skills, but there is something wrong with disregarding the energetic/holistic model in favor of an exclusive western approach. This would leave the essence, the heart and the soul of Thai Massage behind.

Thai Massage is highly effective and therapeutic, as you will find out, however it requires an open mind when it comes to its approach and methodology.

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May 11, 2017 - 9:05 pm
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Shama said
You are right with your observation that your strong focus on anatomy and clinical approach might be an interesting challenge for you. The good news is that it will give you an expanded perspective and another layer of awareness of how to deal with a body/mind/energy system.

Western therapists often try to force Thai Massage into the western clinical model. This doesn't work so well, because it leaves out some of the essence and the beauty of Thai Massage. I have intentionally de-emphasized the clinical/anatomical approach in this course and focused on a more intuitive, creative and energetic approach, since this is how all Asian healing arts work.

Disregarding this is kind of like trying to force a round peg into a square hole. You might find this Asian perspective refreshing, mind-opening and holistic. There is certainly nothing wrong with having anatomical knowledge and clinical skills, but there is something wrong with disregarding the energetic/holistic model in favor of an exclusive western approach. This would leave the essence, the heart and the soul of Thai Massage behind.

Thai Massage is highly effective and therapeutic, as you will find out, however it requires an open mind when it comes to its approach and methodology.  

I definitely agree with this! I think it's more of a personal insecurity than any comparison between clinical massages and Asian healing arts. Anyone with a good working knowledge and professional demeanor can utilize anatomical knowledge to give relief to anyone suffering from muscle pain and triggerpoints. However, I really want to learn how to channel my own energy with the client's to provide services to benefit the client's well being. It's within the realm of the subjective, and truly an art, not a science. 

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May 11, 2017 - 9:44 pm
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Well put, and that's exactly what you will get out of this course! Smile

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May 11, 2017 - 10:15 pm
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Module 2

In this module, many of the comparisons between Thai Massage and Western practices were reiterated, along with clarification on the variety of names by which Thai Massage is referenced. A concrete example of ergonomics was shown with a stretch in which the therapist is in a low lunge and uses their body to stretch the client's hip. Examples of how not to perform the stretch, and a comparison between upright, and proper, versus twisted or slouched postures were shown. Keeping the line of the body straight so that when the whole body moves, pressure and movement is applied to that of the client is going to be a huge part of practicing over the following Modules, so that it becomes a matter of habit and more time can be spent learning the sequences. Sequencing in Thai Massage was also introduced here. I think it will be great to learn the Thai Massage sequences, as well as the theory behind which movements and postures flow into one another. This is where I think personal experience and body awareness is critical for a therapist and where it important to receive massages as well. That way, a therapist will have more awareness and their personal experiences can influence the way they can treat others. For example, as a yoga teacher and fitness instructor, coming back from my experience of having separated my SI-joint last year, there are movement patterns that I don't personally use in conjunction with one another anymore because my experience showed me how high-risk, or uncomfortable for the lower back they may be for my clients. This is more likely come into play in sequencing for a therapeutic area specific session, which I am looking forward to in future modules. Having watched the demo for the Chi Machine, I can tell that there is more to it than what one can discern at first glance. Hopefully, by the weekend I'll have a very trusting friend willing to allow me to practice this. 

-Kneel with knees slightly apart

-Heels of client are in hollow depression of hands, client's heels are slightly INSIDE the therapist's thighs

-Rock on heels side to side to move client, focusing on moving client from the hips. Note: If someone has heavy legs, you don't want to lift the legs up to make the movement stronger.

-Client's whole body moves FROM THE HIPS, recommended 1-2 minutes, slowly ad gradually coming to a rest

-Keep contact with the feet 10-15 seconds

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May 12, 2017 - 3:02 am
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Please re-read item #7 in the certification check list which I posted in the beginning of this thread. There is no need to re-state the content of the video. What I am interested in is to see that course students are working with the material, not just watching the videos and listing the content. So  the idea is that the posts are experiential, i.e. what happened during actual practice, how did practice partners react, what feedback you received, how you apply it, how you integrated it with your yoga and/or fitness programs etc.

I know you are waiting for your practice partner, and until that happens there is no need to write lengthy posts about the video content. After all, I know what's in the videos since I made them. Laugh

So just hold off with your posts until you actually get to practice it, and then I am looking forward to hearing all about what happened. Smile

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May 16, 2017 - 9:19 pm
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Module 3

I wanted to start with a brief follow-up from Module 2. Over the weekend I was able to practice with a friend on the Chi Machine movement. It was difficult at first. I highly doubt that the weight of the client should ever impact a therapist's ability to do the postures and movements in Thai yoga, but it was still a surprise at how much it really took to generate that kind of motion in the body of a male friend. After a timid first attempt, I was able to get his hips to move like in the Mod2 video. He is totally new to Thai massage so the feedback was more, "I'm not sure about the energizing part, but it felt good on my low back." So over time, I'm going to practice with trying to stay in the movement more than an minute, and try to make it to 2 minutes. 

Back to Module 3. I was apprehensive about the foot massage on my friend. The foot press is very similar to a yoga adjustment so that was routine for me. The circles however were really hard to get. I think I just get embarrassed to do something that is out of my comfort zone so we had to stop and laugh for a bit at my failed attempts. It's going to take a little while until I get to the point where it comes natural, but using the gradual stages helped. First the circular motion, then the squeezing were the easiest stages for me, and eventually the outward bend made its way in there. 

I took a LOT of care with the inward bending of the foot. I didn't apply any pressure until I was certain the traction was going towards me. My friend had very sensitive ankles so I was really very gentle with the next  transition where the feet are outside the thighs and there is extension and flexion of the foot. We didn't alternate as much as the video showed. I didn't practice much of the twists on him for this reason, but I did finish with the foot shakes. I'm beginning to see how much practice this is going to take! 

That's all, sorry this is a little long. 

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May 17, 2017 - 9:14 am
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Better a long post than a skimpy one! Smile

Now your posts are getting juicy and interesting to read!

The weight of a client will impact a therapist's ability to do the techniques. Let's say you weigh 100lbs and work on a 200lbs client. There will be some techniques that this therapist won't be able to do.

However, in Thai Massage, or least in the way how  I teach it, there are many possible adjustments, modifications, and versions of most techniques to compensate for such weight and size differences. You will find those throughout this course.

In regards to the Chi Machine - if done correctly, this will take very little effort. I like the visualization of seeing your own hip filled with water, and you are trying to shake the hip sideways so that the water is sloshing up against the sides of your hip.

The secret of the Chi Machine is finding the right speed, and using least effort. I know, this is easier said than done, but that's what you are aiming for. Incidentally, the least effort thing goes for everything in Thai Massage. Even if you do it for only 1 minute, you can get the intended effect.

I know, the foot circle technique is not that easy. It is a very unique technique which only very few Thai Massage therapists know. It is not taught in Thai Massage schools. I learned it from a famous Thai Massage master who was a real artist at it. He died many years ago, and only a few of his students (or now my students) know this very effective technique.

I am glad to hear that you approached the foot inward bending technique with a lot of sensitivity. 

Yes, good Thai Massage DOES take a lot of practice. It is quite a complex system with hundreds of very effective techniques. Once you are good at it, you will never have to worry about competition and you will be a unique therapist who can really help clients effectively.

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May 26, 2017 - 7:51 pm
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Module 4

 Module 4 brought the foot massage into more detail and I was able to work in a few practice sessions with clients in my yoga classes. The most important thing I learned through practice is to not try to use every single technique every time. I would have maybe 1 minute per client so I learned how to prioritize. For example, especially for men with tight ankles, foot circles and the press below the toes to flex the foot worked better than the smaller, more detailed techniques. Women, whom I had assumed were accustomed to wearing heels, responded better to the thumb presses and circles on the inner heel, up along the inner line of the foot. Most women's shoes are too narrow, so for one client I was able to work the outer edge of the foot too, for some release there. The leg shakes were a really great finishing move for a relaxing savasana. Some of the two-handed twisting and pressing moves are still a little difficult, and I am going to try and make sure when I practice those, there's no time restriction, and it's done on a person with whom I can exchange feedback with until I get it just right, rather than a class situation. Another thing I need to do is be able to not only be able to see what I am doing with the foot, but also look up at the client's face for nonverbal feedback. I think it's a nervous thing, but at first I would get a little tunnel vision and at times it felt like I had never felt a person's foot before. Haha. I'm sure that will go away with more time and confidence. That's all I have for this module. 

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May 26, 2017 - 9:01 pm
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Sure, that will go away with more time and practice. You will come across more such things with some of the more unusual techniques in Thai Massage. Smile

It's good that you already realized that Thai Massage should not be done as a one-size-fits-all sequence which everybody gets. There are hundreds of techniques, but that doesn't mean that we should use them all on everyone. They are options to choose from, based on our discretion and intuition, not mandatory sequences.

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May 26, 2017 - 11:11 pm
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Module 5 Take One

I will likely revisit Module 5 in the next post for follow up observations and technique practice. The first time working with the leg warm up series was after I taught a private class and I asked if my client was interested in allowing me to practice. I think it is interesting that for one practice with a friend for the Chi movement, he was heavy, and for this client, she was a woman whose body was smaller than mine. There was a lot of reluctance to lean in as much as the video, but after she assured me that my body weight wasn't too much, I was able to perform the butterfly thigh presses without too much difficulty. I almost forgot to anchor the foot with my own, and so had to reset up with my foot around hers. I felt awkward rolling the inner thigh, so that needs work. But, she liked the thumb roll up the outer thigh because it is close to the IT band. Working with the calf was appreciated, and knowing the insertion of the soleus helped me because she is a runner and had tight calves. Overall though, I want to work these techniques with another friend before I move on to Module 6 just because she was so petite, I just felt like I couldn't freely practice even when she said the pressure was okay.

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May 27, 2017 - 5:57 am
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So that's your issue! Laugh You will have to get over that. Even small women are not like thin porcelain dolls which break easily. Some small women like good pressure, you would be amazed! Anyway, later on in the course you will learn a method to gauge the intensity of pressure quite precisely. That will take care of this! Smile

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June 2, 2017 - 12:49 am
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Module 6

Module 6 for me was easier than Module 5 and even helped me out with the leg presses from 5. I was with my previous client, the smaller woman, and learning how to rock her leg as shown at the beginning gave me a much more clear indicator of force/pressure applications. It took more push/pull to have the free swinging effect to release the hip than expected, but there wasn't a moment when it seemed too vigorous. I've used my forearms before on the trapezius muscle, but never on the hip so that was new. I guess because I was seated, I wasn't worried about leaning too much so, based on the feedback received, the pressure was adequate and felt good. Her adductors were very sensitive, so I practiced the positioning of the forearm and slowly leaned in, more towards the center, and that alone was a lot. When I rolled her leg in and pressed the quads, she said that felt great and wanted that every day. I forgot to try the IT band/elbow press, and we ran out of time.

I was at the gym yesterday and was able to use the calf warm-up on a friend who was complaining about shin splint pain because it is really close to releasing tibialis anterior and was an effective way to prepare his shin before I taped it so he could run his military pt test. Pressure wasn't an issue there and it was more of an exploratory movement to help me find where to start taping.

Module 5 Follow Up: after practicing some of Module 6, I tried the butterfly presses again and was able to better gauge leaning in and not being so timid with my bodyweight.

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June 2, 2017 - 3:14 am
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When you lean in slowly with a feeling of softness, you can apply tons of pressure without causing pain. However as soon as you muscle the same move, even light pressure will easily cause pain. That's the secret - leaning versus pressing.

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