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Renee Gerber's Heavenly Head Massage course notes
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Renee Gerber
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April 7, 2016 - 8:43 am
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Hi Shama!

It's been quite a while since I've participated in the forum.  I've completed your Back Massage, Sciatica, Knee Therapy, and Arm & Hand Massage courses.  I really enjoy your thoughtful and precise method of teaching.  If you remember, I'm a physical therapist, and my treatments are sometimes painful for patients (for example, rehabilitation for someone who just had shoulder surgery).  I'd like to offer something more pleasurable at the end so the patient can relax and forget the discomfort they've had to endure.  Heavenly head massage seems like just the thing.  I can't wait for the next module.

Regards,

Renee

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Renee Gerber
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April 9, 2016 - 7:58 pm
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Module 1 Introduction

For the most part my practice partner will be my husband.  It's easy to practice each new technique(s) on him as soon as I view each module.  Starting next week I will have several different "bodies" to practice on as well.  

The alternating shoulder move is a great way to start the massage because it really helps to get your breath in synch with your partner's breath and also the with the movement.  It's such a nice gentle movement which helps to relax my partner (not easy to do with my husband) and just as important, it helps ME to relax.  It probably sets the tone for the rest of the massage.

Renee

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Renee Gerber
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April 9, 2016 - 8:23 pm
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Module 2 (Chest 1)

The first thing I noticed when practicing is that my husband does not have a straight sternum.  His goes upward first and then straightens out.  I'm so glad that you brought that up and made us aware that we need to adjust the direction of the lean to keep that 90° angle.  Also the end of his sternum (xiphoid process) is extremely sensitive to pressure.  No need to go that far anyway, especially if it doesn't feel good.  My husband preferred the thumbing between the ribs (on the side of the sternum) instead of directly on the sternum.  He loved the wiggle and rocking with my palms.  I also tried with edge of my hand--he liked the palms better.  I did the tapping with both a soft fist and fingertips.  He preferred the soft fist.  

By the way, I'm using a massage table for now.  For the Back Massage and Sciatica techniques, and Hand & Arm too, I have been mostly on a mat on the floor.  It is so much nicer for the receiver to be able to stretch out completely without have to worry about arms and legs falling off the table.   I'm getting better at adjusting my body to accommodate my cranky knees. Remember I was resistant to working on the floor? I still cannot sit back on my heels or squat though. Cry

I've recently taken an "in person" Thai Massage course in NYC but it seems that your methods/techniques are preferred by my patients/clients. 

Renee

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Shama
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April 10, 2016 - 12:57 am
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I am glad to hear that your clients like my techniques!

Heavenly Head Massage can easily be done on a table. The main reason why I demonstrate it on a floor mat is that I have never owned a massage table in my entire massage career. I just never needed one. However I have done lots of HHM sessions on a table when I worked in a spa setting. 

The fact is that I can do one session on a mat, but if I do several HHM sessions in a day, then it is much more comfortable on a table. However I would imagine that most therapists are more comfortable doing it on a table in the first place. Since the client is not moved around much like in Thai Massage, the table works fine, whereas for Thai Massage I definitely prefer the mat for many reasons.

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Renee Gerber
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April 13, 2016 - 9:31 am
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Module 3 (Chest 2)

Hi there!

There were 8 techniques in this module--a lot to learn!  Good thing I took notes, but even still I had to watch parts of the video several times.  I practiced on husband and he is very ticklish when I do the thumbing below the collarbone and the push-pull of the pecs. I had him do it to me so I know what it feels like.  I loved it.  During the collarbone technique, where we thumb behind the acromion (on the traps?) from lateral to medial, when I got closer to the neck he said it really hurt and that's a pressure point from karate.  Laugh  oops! sorry!  He loved the elephant walking on the entire chest and shoulders.  I didn't do the upper body twist on him because he has spinal stenosis and twists really bother him.  Tomorrow I'll practice on a lady friend and make sure I try the twist.

Renee

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Shama
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April 14, 2016 - 2:53 am
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I know the painful point that you are talking about - don't press on it! Smile

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Renee Gerber
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April 14, 2016 - 8:45 am
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Module 4 (Neck 1)

I had a chance to work on my friend today. She had a large exercise mat at her house so I got to work on the floor. She is very large breasted and had hardly any workable chest area--(she's also very short).  I did what I could but didn't get to try the upper body twist because she asked me to work on her cranky neck.  Perfect!  I tried the Wave which was really awkward at first.  I was afraid my toes would be pokey, but they stayed down. And she didn't complain. I felt comfortable holding and moving her head. She liked it and also the 4 warm up techniques.  She asked me to work on her knee too.  I'm so happy I remembered the techniques from your Knee course I took a while back.  🙂

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Shama
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April 14, 2016 - 10:41 am
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The "wave" is a bit tricky, for sure. But it seems you figured it out! 

The upper body twist is something you can easily skip if it is hard to do on someone. Like with all my courses, the techniques are options to choose from, not mandatory sequences. You will see in upcoming modules that there is a plethora of neck techniques. I have often done just neck sessions by themselves if that's what people needed most. You can easily do that with the material in the HHM course.

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Renee Gerber
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May 15, 2016 - 8:53 am
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Module 5 (Neck 2)

I practiced getting hair out of the way with my daughter who has long hair.  Doing that is nice to include with the warm up moves from Module 4.   It took a few tries to make sure that her head didn't  move at all while doing it.  It was a warm evening and she has oily skin so I didn't need any oil.  She enjoyed all the moves, especially the head rotating.  She did not really like the "squeeze & pull back" on her neck.  I tried to change my hand placement, thinking I was too far forward on her neck. I just couldn't get that right.   She is very sensitive, so I'll try to practice this one on someone else soon.

By the way, I had your video playing while I was practicing and went back to try the "wave" from Mod 4.  My daughter said "oooo, it feels like a wave"...just seconds before you said "it should feel like a wave."  hahaha!  I guess I nailed the move!!!

Renee

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Renee Gerber
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May 15, 2016 - 9:15 am
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Module 6 (Neck 3)

Shama,

You said the Big Neck Roll was your favorite move.  I think it's my daughter's favorite move too.  She said that it was just what she needed after a long work week.  I would love that move done to me.  I love any kind of traction on my neck.  I didn't quite get the hang of the small neck roll though.  The sliding up the spine with alternating index fingers was easy to do, but the sliding while supporting the head with the heel of the hands, not easy at all.  My wrists started hurting after doing the moves from this module. I've been working on the floor for most of the modules, sitting on 2 yoga blocks duct taped together (I can't sit back on my heels), so I'm a bit higher than I should be.  Maybe my the angle of my wrists is not right. I'll try these moves on the table to see if it helps.

Renee

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Shama
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May 15, 2016 - 11:50 am
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Good to hear that you "nailed" the wave - that's a tricky one. Anyway, your daughter confirmed it! Smile

Trying some moves on a table is a good idea since then your body ergonomics are easier when you are sitting on a chair behind the head. I like the table quite low, a little above knee height. If it is too high, the tendency will be to muscle moves by working too much with your arm and shoulder muscles.

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Renee Gerber
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May 19, 2016 - 8:37 am
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Testimonial: 

Shama Kern's Heavenly Head Massage video series is the best!  Besides being chock full of simple (well, not all are simple) yet effective techniques, the way Shama teaches is seldom seen.  He is thorough and clear with his explanations and demonstrations, and he always has his students' and his clients' best interest at heart.  After viewing the the videos, and practicing the techniques on family, friends and actual patients, I feel confident that there is something for every "body" in my new set of tools.  Heavenly Head Massage is a great way to end a treatment session or as a stand alone treatment.  Thank you Shama for this awesome course!

Renee Gerber, Physiotherapist

Queens, New York

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Renee Gerber
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May 22, 2016 - 7:24 pm
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Module 7 (Neck 4)

I practiced this "lift, rotate, stretch & roll" technique on the table.  It felt really awkward and I had a hard time relaxing.  My practice partner said it felt too choppy.  She does have issues with limited ROM in rotation.  I think she could benefit from this move to improve her range, but feel I should move more slowly and smoothly.  

The neck rotation stretch where one hand is on the face is a nice one--not as difficult to do as the first technique.  But I kept forgetting to let the head come back each time during the massage circles.  It was like trying to pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time.Embarassed I'm not that coordinated. But I see how the pulling and circling would coax the neck into a bit more rotation each time.  

Since I'm working on the table, I put my knee on the table to stabilize the head when doing the 2-handed pull into rotation.  It works quite nicely.  I'm still playing with the table height as you suggested--trying to get it just right.

Renee

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Shama
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May 23, 2016 - 3:25 am
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The neck techniques are the most difficult part of the course. Once you master them, they feel amazing. I suggest you watch the video a couple more times for the techniques that you were struggling with. The Heavenly Head Massage system looks easy, but it really does take some time to learn it well. 

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Renee Gerber
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May 27, 2016 - 9:04 am
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More on Module 7:

I just wanted to report that I WAS able to do the head lift, stretch, roll, 360 on the floor.  I positioned myself sitting on my bottom with my knees bent & feet on mat. I was able to support myself with elbows on my inside thighs.  My practice partner this time was a massage therapist and we tried this on each other.  It really feels great and he loved it too.

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May 27, 2016 - 11:52 pm
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Congratulations! I don't expect anyone to get this right the first time around. If you got it right so quickly, that's great! Imagine what it will feel like after you have been doing this for a year or so. Smile

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Renee Gerber
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May 28, 2016 - 7:14 am
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Module 8 (neck 5)

I'm realizing is so important to practice these moves on as many different people as possible.  My husband is always available, but he doesn't always give good constructive feedback--he just says it doesn't feel right and won't let me try again.  I have one friend who never says anything negative (even when I see she is wincing).  Ugh.  She thinks massage is supposed to hurt to be effective.  i try to explain that if the technique hurts, it may cause neighboring muscles to tense up.  My yoga teacher, physical therapist & massage therapist friends--now they give good feedback!

Anyway, the neck techniques in this module were easier to do than some of the others. I think the wiggle while flexing is especially helpful with people with very stiff necks.  This reminds me of your rocking techniques.  One can not possibly be tense when being rocked.  And the "hook the fingers in the occipital ridge" move is very nice.  People really seem to like traction moves.  I know, I do.  

Renee

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Shama
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May 28, 2016 - 8:11 am
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You are right, practicing only on one person will give you at least an incomplete picture, if not a distorted one. It's good that you have several people you can practice on.

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Renee Gerber
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May 28, 2016 - 5:45 pm
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Module 9 (Ear Massage)

So far the techniques for the ear are the easiest to learn.  It is possible to do it on myself first and then on my practice partner.  The feedback from my husband were all positive this time.  At first he thought it was a little weird but then he relaxed and really enjoyed it.  He especially loved the hold at the end--he said it sounded like the ocean. Smile  I can't wait to try these techniques out on my other practice buddies.  

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Renee Gerber
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June 6, 2016 - 5:50 pm
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Module 10 (Head 1)

This is awesome stuff!  Easy to do and everyone loves it!  These techniques are great to do on someone with a tension headache.  Working on the midline with the thumbs was interesting.  I ended up, sort of naturally, alternating which thumb goes on top as I worked from top to bottom.  Very nice.

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