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Samantha Simons - Complete Thai Massage
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SamanthaW Simons
Poulsbo, WA, USA
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May 14, 2016 - 12:11 pm
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Module 1 – Introduction

Thanks, Shama, for an engaging and concise Intro!

As a long time practitioner and teacher of yoga asana + pranayama, the importance of the breath felt very intuitive and familiar for me. It’s one thing I feel will keep me well prepared in this course. The Hara, and energetic focal point being the navel is new to me and I’m interested in learning more on that note. The offering of Eastern modalities that rely more on energetics (with the encouragement to know anatomy without it being the pinnacle) is a powerful way to create a healing space for clients. One reason Thai massage is so appealing (to me), is the giver is (hopefully) a strong space holder, empowering the receiver to process and heal themselves through the aid of pranic/energetic flow in the body vessel.

There are more techniques than I’m familiar and well versed in being touched on. I’m looking forward becoming more comfortable in the combining of postures from a place of intuition and sensing what the client need most. The comparison of Thai massage to a dance is the perfect illustration. The tidbit of training I’ve already had in this arena described and demonstrated it as just that. Another teacher said practice your postures even without a partner and from the outside looking in, that’s exactly what it will appear as…a beautiful, fluid, dance.

The combination of ergonomics + technique + awareness will be a crucial learning area. I’ve known/seen so many yoga students (and teachers) injured during hands on assists or some semblance of Thai massage. It’s essential to be in tune energetically and heed what the body is trying to convey.

One subtletly I appreciated from the video is you, Shama, keeping your heart space in mirror with the receivers’ heart space, not turning your back on her or breathing that auric connection.

Very much looking forward to Module 2, and beyond. Thank you!

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Shama
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May 15, 2016 - 1:56 am
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Hi Samantha, welcome to our forum and the Complete Thai Massage course. As a yoga teacher you have the perfect background for learning Thai Massage. We have lots of yoga teachers among our students, and there are many threads by them here in the forum – so you are in good company! Smile

One question: Are you posting just to share, or is your intention to get a certificate? If you are just sharing, then you don’t need to do anything. If however you are going for a certificate, you would need to to officially register for the certification program, as outlined in the certification section of your course manual.

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SamanthaW Simons
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May 15, 2016 - 2:34 am
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Yes, Shama, I am seeking International Certification and have submitted the requisite registration.

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Shama
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May 15, 2016 - 3:12 am
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Hmm, I don’t now what happened, but the registration never showed up at my end. Would you mind sending in another registration form please – it just takes a minute. Weird things can happen in cyber space. Smile

Also could you please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification check list here:

Certification Check List

From what I can see the only thing missing is filling in your bio information in the profile section.

I am looking forward to interacting with you throughout the certification program!

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SamanthaW Simons
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May 16, 2016 - 8:40 am
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Shama,

Bio complete, will resubmit certification registration, and module 2 post shortly.

Thanks,

Samantha 

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SamanthaW Simons
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May 16, 2016 - 9:12 am
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Module 2 – More Basics + Chi Machine

Intention is at the crux of any energetic exchange. Thank you for the continued reiteration of this aspect. It can become all too easy when pressured with bills or need to succeed for the intention to shift to “more clients, more money, more recognition.” For me, I regularly come back to my dharma, one-on-one connection and space holding to empower the client to process and themselves.

The notations on coming to the practice clear are just as important. I personally like to take a moment just before moving into a receivers’ energetic field, to root and ground, breathe, ask for a layer of protection for myself, and articulate (internally) that I will be a channel of compassion and loving kindness, offering only the purest of intentions for my receiver. 

I just co-facilitated workshop today on hands on assists for yoga teachers and ergonomics was a key part of that. We must absolutely grace our bodies with ahimsa at all times or we risk injury and exhaustion to both ourselves and our receivers. That’s one of the aspects I most look forward to in this course is both correct articulation of each technique, but also correct transition of my body position as I move between techniques on my receiver. This translates to what you mentioned here, bodyweight for execution as opposed to muscle power, and least stress/exertion as possible. Your note that the practice should be pleasing to giver as well encourages that. 

The Chi Machine…what a really neat sensation as a giver! It’s very easy to visualize the energetic movement in this technique. Especially if one has some knowledge of kundalini yoga. You can almost “see” ida and pingali nadi’s lighting up! I am blessed to have a variety of partners to practice on…my children (boys ages 10 and 13), private clients of all shapes and sizes, and fellow yoga teachers. I have never heard of, seen, practiced or received this technique until now and am grateful for its addition. 

Thank you Shama,

Samantha

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Shama
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May 16, 2016 - 11:34 am
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Actually I originally learned the Chi Machine technique in a Chi Nei Tsang (abdominal massage) course. It is not normally part of Thai Massage, but I added it to my system because I thought it was a great fit. I called the technique the “Chi machine” because there actually is a machine that accomplishes a similar effect. If you google it you will find it. However it feels much better if done by a person’s hands.

I am really big on transitioning in a fluid and graceful way. You will find some really cool ways to do that in this course! Smile

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SamanthaW Simons
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May 18, 2016 - 11:51 am
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Module 3 – Foot Massage

So much to do with the feet! I love the intricacies and have replayed the video a few times. Some of the moves come naturally, especially gently holding of the feet, the 1, 2, 3, 2, 1 pattern, and flexion/extension. The more circular patterns are a bit more challenging…keeping in mind using bodyweight, alternating hand position, alternating foot, alternating direction, etc. But it makes sense and will undoubtedly be smoother and more intuitive with practice. 

I appreciate seeing and hearing the breakdown of moving with ease from one giving position to another so as not to disrupt the receivers’ space. Question: I know in some forms of massage it’s considered to best to always keep some kind of constant contact with the receiver as you change your position. (presumably to prevent drawing away from the physical/energetic space then re-entering it over and over). Is it the same with Thai or is ‘letting go’ of contact alright when changing position?

The feet are so significant as you noted, affecting the entire body. It stands to reason it’s a great place to start and set the stage. I look forward to continued practice with the several techniques presented in this video.

As an aside , moving back to module 2, my 10 year old LOVES chi machine. When practicing with him, he usually benefits from regular reminders to exhale deeply which helps his body relieve tension. No need for that with chi machine. He had a blissed out smile on his face and his body went with the flow. 

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Shama
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May 18, 2016 - 6:43 pm
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In response to your question about maintaining body contact, please watch the video at the end of this page:

Maintaining Body Contact In Thai Massage

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SamanthaW Simons
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May 21, 2016 - 6:56 am
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Thank you for that reference Shama. As I guessed but wanted to confirm, constant connection is best. The best mat video was also helpful. My DIY mat works well and is portable, easy to clean, but a tad small for larger than average clients. There’s a promising option on sale on amazon right now I may choose to get asap.

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SamanthaW Simons
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May 21, 2016 - 7:34 am
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Module 4 – Foot Massage

I am so glad there was another module on feet. I’m not overwhelmed per se but with so much connection to the entire body and its’ processes, the feet are such a crucial element. The linking of the 8 ways to work with a foot, to module 3’s specific techniques is helpful.

My wrists need some more mobility work to properly execute flexing of the receivers’ feet. They don’t fully flex and this one always feels awkward for me. I tend to move it to later in a massage when I lift the clients legs to 90 degrees and rest their heels on my ribcage. It’s easier for me to flex from this space. I’m sure this falls under giving a massage more from feeling than rote.

The regular reminders to give massage from a conceptual place, being open to modifications, energetic flow, is very empowering. It’s somewhat comforting and takes some of the intimidation factor away when we’re given the freedom to both learn from tradition but explore and expound. 

My 10 year old continues to be my most readily available and willing partner. It helps that he’s extremely verbal and didactic. I get a lot of feedback, especially when touch is too light and feels “ticklish”…something for sure you be mindful of, especially with feet!

 

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Shama
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May 21, 2016 - 11:23 am
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There should not be an issue with the flexibility of your wrist. I assume you are referring to the technique where you place your hands on the sole of the foot and then flex it by bending your own body down. It seems from what you are writing that your hand placement is not correct. 

The heel of your hand (the area right below your wrist) should be placed on the ball of the foot (the area right below the toes). If you do this correctly, the angle of your wrist will not be more than 45 degrees to your forearm when you are leaning into the stretch.

If however you place your hand too low on the foot, let’s say in the middle of it instead of on the ball of it, then you will create too much of an angle in your wrist.

Normally the issue with being ticklish happens only with children in my experience. I haven’t run into this with adults. However it is fairly common with kids from the feedback I am getting in the forum.

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SamanthaW Simons
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May 22, 2016 - 6:38 am
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I “think” placement is correct but I could post a pic/video? I will rewatch and keep practicing. My wrists don’t have full flexion in them but if 45* is ideal, I must be doing something wrong.

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Shama
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May 22, 2016 - 9:30 am
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Sure, you can post a picture or a video, and I will take a look.

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SamanthaW Simons
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May 26, 2016 - 4:03 am
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Module 5 – Leg Warm up

The practice for this module felt easeful and intuitive. I appreciate the incorporation of energy lines and reminders of more sensitive areas such as tendons. Also, the intricacies of placement of the givers’ body parts to avoid sensitive areas of the receiver. (ie: hand placement on the thigh to avoid the groin). 

I’ve practiced with a few partners, and by and large the adductor tendon seems to be very sensitive. I need more practice to work around but not on that spot. The partners have overall really enjoyed the leg warmup with the rolling and pulling. The repetition of techniques as we move from the feet further up really helps to solidify the movements themselves and see how they can be applied from region to region. 

Also, on the feet flexion, I think I’ve figured it out. The problem wasn’t my wrist position, it was actually proximity to the receiver and the positioning of the upper body. It feels comfortable and easy now! (and I did resubmit registration for int’l certificate…hopefully it went through this time!)

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Shama
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May 26, 2016 - 11:14 am
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I am glad you figured out the positioning! Smile

And yes, I did receive your certification registration, thank you.

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SamanthaW Simons
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June 3, 2016 - 2:01 am
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Module 7 – Leg Stretches 1

The time and care given to relating the condition of the hips through observing the feet was helpful. It’s actually something I’ve been looking at for a few years now, as I have a marked pelvic imbalance that I knew was there but wasn’t sure WHAT the issue was until taking anatomy during yoga teacher training. I do hope there will be even more to come on HOW to work for balance when we notice these differences. 

I also appreciate the regular provision of alternatives for both client needs (stiffness, limited range of motion, size AND therapist needs (smaller therapist, larger client…I’m only 4’11” so many of these apply to me).

The video and verbiage has helped me to see just how important using the bodyweight is as oppose to muscular engagement. Some of these I haven’t been doing AS effectively and have been overworking my own body. 

 

Question: for the 90 degree hip angle stretch, is it safe to hold the actual ankle joint of the receiver as opposed to the foot itself? A-I have small hands and B-one of my practice partners is extremely sensitive in the bones of her feet. Really, much of any pressure at all causes her great discomfort. Thanks!

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SamanthaW Simons
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June 3, 2016 - 2:06 am
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Module 8 – Leg Stretches 2 

(note: I really enjoyed the thai beaches video…makes me miss Guam AND want to come play in Thailand even more! And it’s quite interesting that both yoga and thai massage underwent a renaissance of sorts thanks to Westerners. I had always thought both were deeply engrained and regularly practiced as a part of both cultures. You learn something new every day!)

The 8  slices of the hip pie was interesting. It’s a nice, easy to understand, systematic approach to movements in the joint. Would these types of movements be therapeutic or off limits for clients with hip and related area bursa concerns? Additionally, and this would relate to working the legs, hips, and torso in general…does thai massage use left or right first or does it matter? I know, generally speaking, in yoga we usually twist the right side first to stimulate the ascending colon, and left side second for the descending color, to encourage stoking of the digestive fires and elimination. 

The dynamics of the movement, especially in the options with rocking and circular movement, are so beautiful and really invite the giver into the flow of the movement. Love it!

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Shama
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June 4, 2016 - 2:51 am
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Regarding your question about the 90 degree angle stretch – yes, you could hold the ankle. However you may want to use the alternate techniques which is shown in the supplemental video which you should have received the day after you got module 7.

“Are the hip stretches therapeutic or off limits for clients with hip and related area bursa concerns?” That’s not a very precise question! Smile Bursa refers to sacs filled with synovial fluid which acts as a lubrication to prevent friction in a joint between bones and other bones, muscles or tendons. So we would have to know more precisely what the “bursa concern” is, what the extent of the issue is, and what exactly the client experiences.

In other words, there is no general answer, but only a case-by-case evaluation. When the bursa is inflamed, then you have bursitis. This can be caused by infection, friction, injury, or rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few. 

You won’t be able to tell what exactly it is, so you will have to rely on the client telling you. In such cases it is best to work closely with the client to gauge his/her reaction to what you are doing. Does it feel good or bad? Does it feel painful in a good or bad way? Does it reduce the pain or does it make it worse?

You will also need alternative techniques. You don’t have to use just stretches to work on the hip. There are many non-stretch techniques as well. One which is totally harmless and very beneficial is hip rocking.

Regarding left or right side work – some people have strong opinions on this. Personally I have never found that it makes any significant difference, so I don’t consider it an important issue.

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SamanthaW Simons
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June 4, 2016 - 9:29 am
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Thank you Shama, I feel like I’m asking all the wrong questions! Part of the learning process, I guess.

I did mean to say “bursitis”, maybe it auto corrected. Part of my fear is taking my client to an uncomfortable place and then needing to back off but I understand it’s not always possible to completely avoid problem areas. 

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