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Tehroma Lask: Complete Thai Massage course notes
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Shama Kern
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March 25, 2022 - 2:40 am
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The truth is that in Thai Massage there are some potentially quite brutal stretches - or at least they are often done in a somewhat insensitive way. One of them is a spinal twist that once hurt my back for a week after someone did it to me in a session. I intentionally left those out of my training material and replaced them with gentler versions that won't hurt anyone. I have never hurt anyone in my Thai Massage career, and I am striving to teach in such a way that my students won't either.

I have seen several people get hurt in Thailand by Thai Massage, including having ribs broken. That's why I modified my teaching to avoid this from ever happening to anyone.

"When I work on flexible yogis, I find their wide range of flexibility to be more challenging than working on a stiffer client. Very flexible clients seem to have what feels like no end to their range sometimes!"  -  I know, when working on a very flexible person it can feel like it is just not doing anything for them.

My conclusion is that such people really don't need the stretches. They are plenty stretched out already. In such cases I focus on giving them a wonderfully relaxing, flowing session with lots of good energy, and I don't worry about trying to stretch them. Once you get through the course, you will have more options for doing that.

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Tehroma Lask
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March 25, 2022 - 3:02 am
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Thank you for providing a training that is gentle and safe for client and therapist alike. I remember when I first started teaching yoga, my biggest concern was that someone would hurt themselves in a class. I aim to offer gentle-effective, personalized sessions in bodywork or my classes. The main reason I took the first Thai Massage training was to help me become more comfortable in touching my student's bodies safely as I never want to hurt anyone. When my husband's lower back got worse instead of better that time, I felt disheartened, then decided to take a break from working that area and learn more so I can go back with more options and offer ease not more discomfort.

I will remember that when working with flexible yogis. I wondered about that, they don't seem to need more stretching so a relaxing and soothing session to move energy makes sense to me.

As you may see, I am catching up on posting today! 

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Tehroma Lask
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March 25, 2022 - 3:55 am
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Complete Thai Massage Module 10 -  Leg Stretches 4

The mantra "soft" reminds me of setting an intention. The intention to be gentle, mindful, notice my client's whole body, facial expressions, their breathing. Noticing the constant relationship and connection between myself and the client. 

I've learned alot about rocking from your video lectures and how this can provide a gentle, insightful warm up for stronger stretches - appropriate for the client. 

Among the many valuable takeaways are using my foot or knee or hand to stabilize a client in certain positions. This provides an experience that feels safer, more comfortable for both therapist and client and I knew I needed to learn more about how to stabilize for a more compact and fluid experience for both.

The focus on the hara and coming from one's center. I like to imagine all the energy radiating from my center when in bodywork and in yoga as well, engaging my whole body in movement and with breath. Feels like full embodiment and powerful even when the intention is to be gentle, mindful for the client to experience a soothing, relaxing, energizing bodywork session.

After working the legs on a client - including the blood stop - I've heard them say that their legs feel like they are buzzing with energy. 

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Tehroma Lask
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March 25, 2022 - 4:01 am
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Complete Thai Massage Module 11 -  Summary Session #1

This is the dance of fluid movement with a client. The reminder to be sensitive with the client, to do only what feels right for a client, not to worry about remembering all of the moves. The intuitive nature of the art of Thai Massage. The flow of moving from one hara - center of the body - and paying as much attention to the transition between moves as the techniques themselves. All while moving with one's whole body, listening to and reading the client's body. Moving with one's breath and in a relaxed fashion. The client can feel if the therapist is tense or uncomfortable, so continually checking in to listen to one's own body and breath for self care while caring for another. This is part of the dance: balancing self care and care of another, care for the therapist in active movement and care for the client in passive movement done by the therapist. A dance that benefits both giver and receiver. 

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Shama Kern
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March 25, 2022 - 4:45 am
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Later on in the course you will find lots of gentle yet powerful back work that will be perfect for your husband. People with back pain generally don't need stretches right away but muscle work and rocking moves.

"...blood stop - I've heard them say that their legs feel like they are buzzing with energy."  -  Perfect, that's exactly what's supposed to happen. Smile

From your comments on module 11, I can see that you are totally getting it!!

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Tehroma Lask
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March 25, 2022 - 5:28 pm
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Thank you so much for you support!!! 

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Tehroma Lask
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March 25, 2022 - 8:43 pm
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Complete Thai Massage Module 12 -  Hip Stretches

The relationship between therapist's body size and client's body size. I am of medium build with a long torso with a strong foundation in yoga and I have found that --- I think this has a lot to do with medium build body size --- I can work rather well with a variety of body sizes. Big and small. A few weeks ago, a yoga student and Thai Massage client of mine gifted her nephew a massage with me. In my brain, when I heard "nephew", I imagined someone smaller and younger than the very tall, middle aged, broad shouldered, strong man with a bit of a belly. When he said, "I am not very flexible." I smiled and replied, "You are in the right place." I am 5'6" and he was well over 6 feet. Because I work regularly  on my husband, who is approximately my height but has a similar strong body, wide shoulders and belly like this client, I was able to work with this client with much ease. His feedback afterwards was that he went into a deep relaxation, kind of like a trance and saw colors. I could tell he was deeply relaxed from the rhythmic sound of his breathing, relaxed body and face. His aunt said that was unusual for him as he has a high stress job and doesn't relax often. Before returning to the US, he came to a yoga class with me. He said that he was returning to the US and a high stress job. I said, "Now you know where to come to de-stress". He smiled and said, "Yes."

From this module, regular inclusions in my massages are: the achilles tendon/calf muscle stretch 1, 3 & 4. Number 2 is new to me and I love this position -- for me as the therapist it feels good which means there is a good chance it will feel good for the client. I particularly love #4 with the circular motion -- this variation is new to me. 

The standing sandwich stretch for posterior leg is another great addition to my practice and the butterfly variation (client's legs bent and their feet in front of my legs), what a great one to bring into a yoga class!

I had an experience with a client once when practicing swinging legs sideways. She started to giggle. She looked delighted. It was lovely. When I worked on her again in later sessions, I remembered to include this move a few times that makes her smile. Another experience I have had with swinging legs is the client will participate or tense the legs and I remind them to soften and let the entire weight of their legs relax as much as possible. To allow me to hold their weight. Your earlier mention of bringing this to the client's awareness was a good reminder that sometimes they are not aware that they are holding. Body awareness is a big part of the massage experience. It is insightful and sometimes clients say, "You found tight areas I didn't know I had". Much like a yoga class Laugh

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Tehroma Lask
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March 25, 2022 - 9:37 pm
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Complete Thai Massage Module 13 -  Completion of "Hip Pie"

The conversation about good pain and bad pain is one I had with my husband a while back and it was insightful because for him, at that time, there was no difference for him. Pain was pain and he couldn't grasp a good pain because I was unable to explain in a way that communicated what you share in this module:

Bad pain: sharp, increasing

Good pain: releasing

And to use the word "discomfort" instead of pain, for example in the conversation above, can be more effective than using the word pain. Plus, discomfort is less strong of a word. Agree.

I appreciate your insight on not to abandon an area when the client's feedback is high on the numbers but instead to work on the area using a different technique and then checking in again with the client. As you say, this builds confidence. This is so helpful for me to grow as a therapist.

I regularly remind my client to participate, to let me know using the numbers 1-10 how a technique is working for them. Sometimes, a client says: "I don't know" and this reminds me of my Mindfulness Meditation training where they say it is common for people not to feel and/or to be disconnected from their bodies or certain parts of their bodies and that training teaches us to normalize when a person doesn't feel something in their body. That's okay. With more massage and/or yoga and mindfulness, a person's connection to their body can deepen and they might be able to provide more feedback at a later date. Also, I have a regular client who has numbness in the right side of her body after chemo twice for breast cancer and it is normal for her not to feel in the moment the stretch on the right side so I have to remember this and be gentle so I don't over stretch her causing residual pain the next day. Same goes for when she comes to my yoga class. 

Your advice and encouragement to change and adapt techniques based on the client's needs is well received and goes along with the "One size does not fit all".

Building a confident and trusting relationship between therapist and client is fulfilling on both ends. In meditation there is a saying, "We're always looking at the relationship, how we are relating to the experience, moment to moment." This also supports my experience in the healing arts.

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Tehroma Lask
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March 25, 2022 - 10:31 pm
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Complete Thai Massage Module 14 -  Hip Rocking

The hip rocking movements give great feedback from the client's body. As you mentioned in an earlier reply, these are good additions to working with my husband, especially the variation with therapist's hand outside the hip to avoid the male genital area.

Last night, on the couch, I was practicing rocking moves on our small dog. She looked very content and stayed for as long as her massage lasted Smile

I'm not sure why, but in my earlier trainings, I learned -- or maybe I misunderstood -- not to cross over the client's body. I am happy to have this freedom to cross over the client's body using the move you showed while rocking the hips or transitioning from working on one client's hand to the other. In yoga, I practice toe balances and other poses with breath that make this transition over the client's body one I can do with ease. 

I also like the hip rocking and transition over the body as a way to transition from one side to another without loosing contact with the client's body. 

The insights and variations for working around the genital area of a male body are very much appreciated. Very important. 

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Tehroma Lask
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March 25, 2022 - 11:19 pm
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Complete Thai Massage Module 15 -  Abdomen and Chest

The importance of abdominal organ health is one I bring up often in my classes. In a yoga class, sometimes I'll teach self-massage with the tennis ball moving clockwise around the belly which emulates the circular motion of hands stacked and working in the direction of digestion with a client's body.

In Thai Massage, the belly massage: both the circular motion (in the direction of digestion) and the push pull are often included in my massages. As you often say, we don't have to use every technique every time, so there are times I leave it out if I'm unsure if a client will feel comfortable with this part of the massage.

I like the hand on the belly to synchronize breath with client and energy as a lead into the possibility of belly massage or as a stand alone check in offering insights to client and therapist alike. This is a very nice move that is not a move Smile A nice pause to connect and listen with one's hand to what is happening in the client's body, how they are breathing, are they comfortable or holding the breath, as well as, where they are breathing: bellow, rib cage or upper chest.

How to work the chest has been a question of mine and I love the moves offered here: the circular motion on the sides of the ribs for men and women; only working below the breasts and between the breasts on women; the elephant walk for the man's chest and the rocking back and forth slowly and leaning in with my body weight for both when this feels like a good fit for the client.

The chest and belly are such personal and intimate areas and I remember that as I move towards the belly and chest area, trusting my intuition on what to do or not to do, how much or simply give the client space and maybe come back to this area in a future session.

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Shama Kern
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March 26, 2022 - 9:14 am
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That's a great story with the nephew. You are obviously doing something right!

Regarding your comments on module 13 - yes, it's all about flexibility, adaptation, creativity, working with a client instead of just on a client. In Thai Massage, one size definitely does not fit all. Clients trust you when they feel that you are working for them and with them, that you are listening to them and understanding them.

Regarding module 14 and not crossing over the client's body - that's ridiculous, whoever came up with that! In Thai Massage you use your body as leverage and you are on top of clients in many techniques.

As a side note, there is one style of Thai Massage in Thailand, Royal Thai Massage, which is reserved for members of the royal family. With them you really do have this taboo of not being allowed to be on top of them, cross over them, or touch them with any body part besides your hands. This is terrible for the therapist's ergonomics, and the royals don't know what great moves they are missing. Smile

But anyway, that's not the style which is being used on us 'commoners', and luckily so. 

By the way you are a rare person to be able to do this transition move with ease. Most students struggle with that one for a while. 

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Tehroma Lask
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March 26, 2022 - 6:50 pm
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Thank you, Shama, for your feedback and continued support!

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Tehroma Lask
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March 28, 2022 - 12:30 am
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Complete Thai Massage Module 16 -  Shoulders

I've been looking forward to this module! I have a client with limited range of motion in her left shoulder and some discomfort in the perctoralis area. While our next appointment isn't until next month,  I've practiced new techniques from this module with a volunteer 🙂

Shoulder lift -lean. I noticed that my tendency before was to lean in with the base of my hands and not relax my fingers. I remembered your instruction to relax the fingers around the shoulders as I leaned in and noticed a difference. More relaxing for client and therapist alike. There is a nice connection with the fingers relaxed. Very nice feedback for shoulder release on this one. The circular motion in their shoulders was especially appreciated.

One-side, two handed shoulder lift, circling. -- "very nice" (again) was the feedback I got from this one from my volunteer with tired and tight shoulders from a lot of time on a computer.

One side-push pull shouler lift alternating wasn't a great fit for this volunteer - small body/shouldered client with my medium-larger hands. I will practice on another body (broader shoulders might be a better fit for my hands in this one). I always appreciate your reminder about Thai Massage not being a one-size-fits all and how important it is to work with a client in a way that fits both therapist and client comfortably, harmoniously, and naturally alike. One-size-does-not-fit-all, I say the latter alot in my classes in reference to yoga postures and practice in general.

I am really pleased with my grasp and natural feel the of rocking and swinging that I've learned in your modules -- in this case, swinging the arm back and forth & the circular option -- these provide for relaxing moments and kind a pause for therapist and client a like. A pause that isn't complete stillness yet there is a rest like quality for the two, I feel in this practice.

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Tehroma Lask
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March 28, 2022 - 12:41 am
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Complete Thai Massage Module 17 -  Arms & Hands

Sliding off the hand received the feedback of what a great stretch that is for the fingers that are often curled in. It felt good for me too and I remember your emphasis on how the experience should always feel comfortable, relaxed and beneficial for both client and therapist alike.

For my own body and to provide some relief for my right and tigheter hip, I propped myself up a bit bit a blanket under my sitz bones so I could stay a while and really work on the hands and arms. I remember thinking, I want to someone to do the hand and arm massage on me! In our community, at this time, to the best of my knowledge, I am the only Thai Massage therapist. And while we have many yoga teachers who teach in English for the tourists and expat community, I am the only yoga and mediation teacher offering classes for the Mexican community (after seven years of teaching, I am still the only one here). There is a wonderful yoga community 2 hours north and 2 hours south of here, but in our town, I am still the only one holding down the fort to teach yoga and meditation in Spanish. I foresee this changing in the future, I just don't know when. Time will tell and it will unfold organically like so much else naturally does.

The hand and arm work, the gentle squeezing while doing thumb circles on the sen lines received smiles and the question of, Can you tell when or where a person is tight or tense? My answer, When I check in and ask for feedback, it is often because I have felt tightness or an area of tension to something under my hands that inspires me to check in and ask for feedback. I reminded my volunter, Remember when I asked you about your bicep and you said, Yes, it is tender and sore from yesterday's activity. I smiled and said, I felt that so I asked and when you said it was sore, I changed my approach and you said that felt better. Very nice interaction with my volunteer who said afterward that they felt much more relaxed and stretched out. Happy client, Happy therapist Smile

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Tehroma Lask
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March 28, 2022 - 12:56 am
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Complete Thai Massage Module 18 -  Transitions/Spinal Twists

Thai Massage and the transitions between poses reminds me regularly of the importance of my yoga practice and which poses to practice regularly to support my work with clients. For example: low and high lunges, toe balances, adductor stretches- warrior 2 for example, butterfly, locust pose series to strengthen my upper back and inversions like supported shoulder stand to stretch my upper back and provide relief for my legs. Fluid movement, grace and ease in transitions from pose to pose is also a foundational component in personal practice to support Thai Massage with clients. Centering breath, restorative & yin yoga + regular mindfulness meditation also help keep my well of energy replenished to support my work with clients. Also, just relaxing on my porch, watching birds in movement and landing, listening to them and hearing myself breathe in a relaxed fashion with our small dog curled up next to me or on my lap -- this supports my work with others too. 

The feedback I get from clients and students often is how they feel a noticeable release and feeling of relaxation the moment they walk into my studio and healing space. I am aware of the importance of my state of mind and heart to be of support for students and clients alike. 

Upper spinal twist variation: I am excited about this method of working with shoulders and upper back through the spinal twist. The upper back and between the shoulder blades can be tricky to get into as the body is designed to protect the heart, from the front and behind. --- Side note: in my restorative yoga practice and classes, I have several favorites for helping to release the upper back, one of mine is: sacrum on a bolster, hips slide slightly towards on side and then the knees gently lower in the opposite direction to be propped with a block or another bolster, arms extend at shoulder height and look over the opposite shoulder -- puts the lower back in traction for a nice release, stretches the outer hip and compresses the upper back with a slightly inverted pose that helps increase blood circulation in the upper back, release the shoulders.   --- This technique got rave reviews and I am excited to include this one in my offerings with other clients. I practiced the transition from one side of client's body, then incorporating the gentle hip rocking like I saw you do in the video and then transition over the client to work on the other side. My transition wasn't as smooth as yours, but safe for client and myself alike and when I asked for feedback, my client said, How did you get from one side to the other, I didn't even notice Wink

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Tehroma Lask
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March 28, 2022 - 1:12 am
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Complete Thai Massage Module 19 -  Summary #2

The power of the pause, relax, shake or rock -- this feels really good and like wonderful pieces of the harmonious Thai Massage dance with a client.

I was intrigued by your mention of "Quantum Touch" so I googled a bit and read about it's comparison/relationship to Reiki. Very interesting. It is good for me to be familiar with other concepts and practices in the field of healing arts.

The quality of touch, in my case, is enhanced through my Reiki, which in turn helps take care of my energy resovoir too.

For my memory, I have written down several times The Anatomy of a Thai Massage move:

  • basic technique (bottom rung on the ladder)
  • work with the entire body (yoga is key for me here to support my massage work)
  • use body weight (lean in and breathe out, lean back and breathe in)
  • work with my breath (to help me connect with my own breath in personal practice and increase my capacity to breathe, I practice crocodile pose-belly facing down savasana and breathe into my belly to get feedback from the floor and appreciate the release as I breathe out and my body relaxes)
  • think softness (gentle and powerful, effective)
  • focus on my hara (imagining that all the energy radiates from my center, through my extremities and supports my client to help bring their energy level up for their own healing)

I practice --- not perfect, all work in progress, moment to moment, the best I can -- full body movement, centering breath, mindfulness, engagement and fluidity, as well as, pauses when working with my clients. It takes a session or more to get familiar and into a fluid dance with my clients. The ones I've worked with the longest are the ones I feel most in tune with because we are familiar with each other. Time and the investment to get to know my clients, check in with them during a massage and sometimes the next day, I feel contribute to a quality in experience, relationshop and care that enhances the client's wellbeing and makes me feel good about my work with them.

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Shama Kern
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March 28, 2022 - 5:49 am
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"I've been looking forward to this module! I have a client with limited range of motion in her left shoulder..."  -  There are two full modules of shoulder work coming up in the side position section. That will be extremely useful for you, I think.

"I remember thinking, I want someone to do the hand and arm massage on me!"  -  I have had that thought many times during my entire massage career. But the fact is that many of the moves that I teach are not done in other Thai Massage trainings and are not done by therapists, including in Thailand. So there are many techniques that I have done on countless clients, but have never received myself. I had to resign myself to the fact that I had to be satisfied with giving instead of receiving.

"...Very nice interaction with my volunteer who said afterward that they felt much more relaxed and stretched out. Happy client, Happy therapist."  -  That's great to hear and very much reflects the way how I approach my work as well.

"The feedback I get from clients and students often is how they feel a noticeable release and feeling of relaxation the moment they walk into my studio and healing space. I am aware of the importance of my state of mind and heart to be of support for students and clients alike."  -  That's a perfect example of a holistic and energy-based approach. And it is the element that turns Thai Massage from 'bodywork' into a healing art.

"...my client said, How did you get from one side to the other, I didn't even notice."  -  That's exactly what is supposed to happen! Smile

From your comments I feel that you will be a wonderful Thai Massage therapist (or are already).

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Tehroma Lask
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April 22, 2022 - 2:51 am
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Complete Thai Massage Module 20 -  Prone Legs 1

(Thank you for the last comments, encouragement and support!)

This module came at a perfect time as I have been experiencing some discomfort and pain in my wrists and elbow joints. Using my hands in butterfly position or thumbs is feeling aggravating. While I have some "hands free" techniques from previous trainings and use many of  them, I do often find myself falling back in the use of my hands (especially butterfly! which I am now moving away from as much as I can 🙂

The technique of working the bottom of the feet with the elbow took a few tries to get comfortable. I found the body position that worked for me and my client/partner was, for example: for me to kneel on my right knee, have my left leg bent and thigh parellel with the floor, the top of my client's left foot on my left thigh and I had great leverage with my left elbow working the soft part of the bottom of his foot. Client said this feels good! Same with the sole of the foot, this position for me worked well to lean in softly and work on my client's foot. I also could alternate the use of the left elbow or right in this position on the client's left foot.

Calf muscle and achilles stretch, I was surpised that my client didn't feel much here because he has tight halfs and ankles. No complaints either! Maybe as I practice more and work with different clients, feedback will vary. 

Working around the achilles tendon with circular motion got good feedback: pleasant experience. Again, I'm being cautious about how much I use my mands because they are feeling overworked, but it was okay for this session. 

I feel like the moves are getting more graceful and my connection with the practice and my clients is being refined. I keep coming back to your description of the Anatomy of a Thai Massage Move. The dance and learning to feel more grace in breath and movement and connection with my client as I grow.

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April 22, 2022 - 3:18 am
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Complete Thai Massage Module 21 -  Prone Legs 2

Working with the back of the leg with the forearm feels natural and my client enjoyed this treatment. I was able to work the first and second line with his leg straight and then externally rotating as I moved towards the outer line. Third line and IT bands with his knee bent. He said that he also felt a stretch in his hip flexors during this part of the massage. Makes sense as his leg was lifted and straight for the first two lines. All in all, he enjoyed this move, except when I leaned in a little too much on third line -- which, as we've mentioned, can be tender --- so, I eased off here and rembered "think softness".

Part of my Yin Yoga training aligns with your mention here, "when you relieve stress in one area of the body, it helps the rest of the body as well." When I am working with a new client and after we've filled out the intake form, I take note of what areas they are specifically looking for relief on and still, I usually --- this could change --- address the entire body in that first treatment to feel what else might be happening in their body and could be connected to the area of concern. I do the latter also with the mindset of relieving tension in one area of the body leading to release in other areas of the body and also to move energy throughout, as well as, for the client's awareness -- and mine! -- of how their body feels as a whole.

Working the outer hip with my client's leg bent provided easy access to work in between the hip and thigh bone and address the outer hip and upper glutes. Felt effective for me (good leverage) and for the client.

Squeezing and rolling the calf muscle felt a little better on my hands and wrists than elephant walking the back of the leg with my hands relaxed. I had to really pay attention to the position of my hands and this is good! Self-care.

Stretch with client's leg in triangle position is part my practice, good hip stretch on the front. Use of my knees is not feeling super effective here just yet. Will keep practicing! 

I offered my client a pillow under the belly and left space for his face by proping the forehead with a firm small pillow. This worked well for my client. Other clients with less belly might be fine with their head turned to one side (and still maybe slightly propped).

Happy to be learning so much and putting it to good use with valuable feedback from my client! Thank you 🙂

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April 22, 2022 - 3:30 am
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Complete Thai Massage Module 22 -  Prone Legs 3

Prone single leg heel to buttocks stretch --- great stretch for the quadriceps!! I am grateful for the power stretch option (heel outside the hip) as I've wondered how to use this move with flexible clients. Now, it makes sense: it's like a variation of heroes pose for the flexible where one sits inside the heels and leans back. 

Both feet together, crossed and leaning in, nice stretch for the tops of the feet and the reverse cross plus repeat is a valuable stretch for tops of feet that can get tight. Moving energy!

I haven't had a chance to practice the power version of the move above just yet. I am glad to know of this option for the more flexible.

Prone reverse leg lift while sitting on client's hips: I imagined this one would provide more stretch for my client's hip flexors but not so much. Maybe this particular client. Plus, it didn't feel very comfortable for me and that may have constributed to the feedback. I think this would be a good move to practice on a smaller and lighter client that I could move with less effort. When it didn't feel comfortable nor yield benefit in the moment, I decided to move on to maintain a a pleasant experience for my client.

Knee in the glute is a natural fit! I can do this one with a decent amount of ease with benefit for the client and release in the glutes which -- I found surprising when I first started body work -- tend to hold some tension, especially the upper glutes. I find this in my yoga classes too. In restorative yoga there is one where we roll the blanket small, long and tight, then lean back on the sacrum, knees wide and then slowly windshield wiper the legs side to side so the blanket ends up between hip and thigh bone when legs lower and then increase pressure on upper glutes when legs come back to center. Students and clients are often surprised to discover the tension held there, as I was the first time I experienced that insight!

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