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Rebeca Torres-Rose - Heavenly Head Massage Course Notes
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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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August 6, 2021 - 5:29 pm
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Module 1 - Introduction and shoulder work

I have been able to practice the shoulder technique both on the mat at home with my husband and on the table with clients at work.  So far everyone is a fan and I have found it comfortable to practice.  I wish the table at work could go a bit lower so that on larger clients I will still be able to lean over them for the first part of the move.  So far I have only been able to practice with leaner clients.  Everyone has really enjoyed it, they mostly comment during the second part of the move, leaning into the shoulders and bringing them towards the feet, but I think the first part, driving the shoulders towards the head, sets up the full pleasantness of the second part.  Because I am shorter than you, my crotch ends up a much closer to the clients face when I lean over them, so that makes me a bit self conscious and I will perhaps omit this technique in the future with certain clients. 

I like the focus on the breath/movement coordination and really find that helps to get into my own meditative state. 

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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August 6, 2021 - 5:52 pm
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Module 2 - Sternum Techniques

I know we aren't supposed to post multiple posts in one day, but I have been having trouble logging into the forum on my new laptop and having to keep notes on paper so far.  I found that on an older laptop I can still log into the forum so now I'm transcribing those notes.  I hope that is OK.

I have always been a fan or working around the sternum and chest as I know from personal experience how good it feels and it draws the client's attention to an area that is often ignored.  It also encourages more relaxed and fuller breathing once they become aware of how tense the area is.  I also appreciate the connection that gets established between practitioner and client when the hands are placed in the heart region.  In my shiatsu class in massage school, we would often end or start a session making contact w/ the heart by placing a hand or edge of hand on the sternum.

I really appreciated the review of different chest types.  I don't think I had really paid attention to that before, but just this week I had a client who has the more angled type chest and it really affected how I placed my hands and body to apply pressure.  

I have been including some sternum work in most of my massages since I took shiatsu, but I loved introducing a few more techniques.  Because this is an area of the body on which many people have never received work, I like to gently announce that I'm going to start working there and invite them to take a deep breath.  Especially with women, I like to give that heads up and inviting them to breathe also helps to get me coordinated with their breath, which is really helpful with the shallow breathers.  I also think there is great value in being aware of one's breath and doesn't have to detract from the relaxing meditative experience. 

My husband received the work on the mat.  He found that although the rocking rhythm felt OK, he really liked the palm circles and the tapping.  He is very thin and doesn't have a lot of fat or muscle on his chest so I think that was part of why he also enjoyed the techniques that used a broader "tool" rather than the individual rib work.  That he preferred with much less pressure so I adjusted accordingly.

All of the clients on whom I practiced these techniques commented on it afterwards because they are so unused to them.  One client remarked on how she could feel the chest circles up her neck (engaging with platysma, scm and scalenes) and also how she felt the relaxation all the way to her feet.  All of them breathed more noticeably deeply after this work.  One client who had been chatty, stopped mid-sentence and seemed to drift off when I started the chest circles.  It was great!

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Shama Kern
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August 6, 2021 - 9:09 pm
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Hi Rebeca, welcome to the Heavenly Head Massage certification program. I don't need to post our certification checklist for you since you seem to have it down pat with your posts. Smile

There is no problem with making more than one post a day. I am just trying to prevent course students from bunching modules together in one post, or making lots of posts in one day that do not conform to our certification guidelines.

Your review of the chest work is the most in-depth I have ever read here in the forum. Many HHM students have trouble with the chest work. They are afraid to touch there, or they have a hard time getting used to the sensitivity and subtlety that is required to work on this area. However  I am happy to read that you can relate to it right away and are doing it right apparently. Smile

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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May 6, 2022 - 6:07 am
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Module 3 - chest and shoulders, spinal twist

Here I am again, picking up where I left off!  I have had almost a year to implement the techniques from the first four models and I'm really starting to build up a Thai massage clientele at my new job so I have also been routinely reviewing the Complete Thai Massage course.  I recall I was having trouble posting so I think that is why I have no notes on modules 3 and 4 although I watched and have been implementing them.  OK, onto the notes...

The rib walk is nice and it really brings folks into a fuller exhalation and inhalation just by feeling me lean in with the exhale.  I have a client who is a musician who asked for work on his ribs last week and really enjoyed all of these techniques as well as some of the ribcage work from the CTM course.

I have been feeling like I'm using my thumbs too much and I found that the pec work as you demo it puts more pressure on the joint than I like so I adjusted by using the heel of my palm where the thumb goes.  I asked my husband for feedback on which he liked better and he actually enjoyed the broader pressure of the heel of my palm better than the thumb (again he doesn't have much chest tissue).

The collarbone lean is something I have been implementing regularly towards the end of table massages as well as Thai massages as I transition to neck and head work.  For table massage I do it through the blanket before I undrape the upper chest so it's like I'm working through clothes. One way I have adapted it to incorporate more rocking like movement at this portion of the massage is that I alternately walk/rock my fingers on the right and left clavicle rather than lean into them both at the same time (although, like with the elephant walk, there is a moment when I am leaning onto both clavicles at the same time).  Kind of like a thumb elephant walk/lean along the clavicles. Everyone seems to really enjoy it, especially as I make my way out towards the AC joint.  From there I move to the shoulder elephant walk building up that left-right motion.

I practiced the twist with my husband who is very thin and doesn't have a lot of chest musculature and I have to be really careful about where I place my hand over the shoulder to make sure it's comfortable.  He did also give the feedback, as I suspected, that inevitably my crotch was right over his head during the twist so this might also be a move that I reserve for clients with whom I feel more comfortable getting that close or just other women.

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Shama Kern
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May 6, 2022 - 8:43 am
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"I'm really starting to build up a Thai massage clientele at my new job."  -  Great, congratulations!

I am glad to hear that you are creatively modifying the chest work to fit your needs and physical capabilities.

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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May 15, 2022 - 6:50 pm
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Module 4 - neck work

The neck wave has been something I have been incorporating into almost all of my Thai massage sessions.  Instead of at the beginning of neck work, I tend to do it towards the end when I am about start to work on the head.  Everyone loves it and says they feel taller afterwards!  I did take some practice rounds on my husband before I go the rhythm but not too long, I think because the way I massage is that I can imagine what it feels like to be on the receiving end and I sync that up with my actions if that makes sense.  As I rewatch the video I think I can refine my technique a bit more.  Over time I think I have not been holding the head quite at 45 degrees so I will correct that.  I do wish I had someone to do this to me!

 

I agree with the tip on not breathing on client's faces.  I have been trying to keep my own neck in better alignment to prevent neck tension so looking up doesn't work for me, instead I take the option of looking to the side and that is better for my own neck.  

 

The 4 neck warming/diagnosing techniques are very helpful especially in neck/shoulder sessions, although I have found I have so many clients with short or thick necks where it can be hard to get my fingers in the space.  With patience and slowing down though I am able to do the work, always a good reminder to ease into the work, not force.  I really appreciated the close up videos too!

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Shama Kern
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May 15, 2022 - 7:25 pm
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"The way I massage is that I can imagine what it feels like to be on the receiving end and I sync that up with my actions if that makes sense."  -  It makes perfect sense. You are working WITH your clients, not just ON them.

"I have found I have so many clients with short or thick necks where it can be hard to get my fingers in the space."  -  Clients with short thick necks are definitely harder to work on. There is a module coming up with some techniques for such body types - the 'towel technique'.

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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May 15, 2022 - 8:26 pm
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Module 5 - neck 2

 

I agree about jojoba oil.  Just a tiny amount on my hands helps create a mix of glide and friction that feels really good, absorbs quickly and is non-allergenic and neutral scented so I don't have to worry about that either.

As I said earlier, I agree that moving slow and securely is super important for creating a relaxing experience.  Certainly it's been my experience on the receiving end of a choppy or fast massage that I didn't enjoy it fully and at times worried about what was next.  Especially when working around the neck, it's just a matter of self-preservation to be guarded in such a vulnerable area so your gentle approach is right up my alley.  When done gently but securely/confidently neck massage is wonderful.  And it feels great as the therapist to feel the confidence that a client places in you when they relax enough to let the neck go.  It's an honor and good feedback on what I'm doing.  Also makes my work easier!  That said, I still have many clients who like to "help" because they don't feel comfortable (consciously or unsconsciously) letting go.  The help starts as soon as I lift the head.  With some clients I can mention it to them and they can let go, others simply can't help themselves.  Recently I have found that sliding my forearm under their neck and then slowly pulling it out so that it makes their head roll over as I pull out works best with these clients.  Maybe because they feel the constant support of the arm under their neck and that with their weight over the arm it can't just slip out/drop the head? I don't know, but it works!  And if someone is really resistant, I just accept that and ask them to turn their head themselves.

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Shama Kern
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May 16, 2022 - 9:27 am
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I have similar experiences with the 'helpers' who 'just can't help themselves'. We have to live with them and try to gradually wean them off their misplaced helping habits. I have often succeeded by making them aware of their 'helping'.

Sometimes I remind them with a bit of humor that I am quite capable of lifting or moving their head without their assistance. Sometimes I turn it into a game where I measure their progress with letting go and not helping, and use this to show them how they are making headway with their relaxation.

Without making them aware of it, there is little chance of them not doing it anymore. One thing that has worked well for me is to add in some gentle rocking movements when I notice their 'helping'. Rocking moves are hard to resist and impossible to 'help' with.

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