February 1, 2012
This course is wonderful and it is not something that can be completed in two weeks. I initially thought I could "rush through it" because of my knowledge of shiatsu, but quickly realized it wasn't to my advantage to try to speed things up. It is wonderful to be able to watch the videos many times over, and to be have the support of the teacher via email.
If anyone in the Ottawa-Gatineau region is interested in practicing the course with me, I would love to hear from you.
Here are a few comments regarding the modules I have seen so far :
Module 2 teaches us the Chi Machine. This technique seems to work well at waking up the chi in the TanTien. However, I find that this technique puts pressure on the knees of the receiver, because their legs are extended and being lifted off the ground for a few minutes without support directly underneath the knees. I noticed I felt a strain in my knees when a partner practiced the technique on me. While practicing with someone else, he complained of the same thing (i.e. strain in the knees when they were being lifted for a while). If that's ok, I would simply put two pillows under the knees when the legs are being lifted up and rocked from side to side.
Module 3 teaches that the first impression is very important, and that it is vital that the receiver feels secure. From what I have learned previously, this is done both through a gentle approach and a complete inner acceptance of the receiver. A non-judgmental approach is felt unconsciously by the receiver, and allows for the ernergy work to take place.
The counterclockwise motion on the feet is wonderful for the receiver, and allows for the giver''s body to become fully engaged and relaxed.
You mention many times how important it is to use body weight rather than muscle. You also mention that people can tell the difference between a therapist who uses his/her body weight and one who simply uses their muscles. This is indeed the case! It makes a huge difference.
I had a lot of fun giving a foot massage to my nephews, age 5 and 12. They were surprisingly quiet and enjoyed it very much, which was a very good sign, I think!
In this module also, you stress the importance of engaging the whole body in our massage and that when only hands are used, for example, it cuts off the energy flow. Through practice, I''ve noticed how the giver''s mental attitude is as crucial in the energy flow as how they move their body, and that the two go together.
You say in the video that it is not necessary to do all the techniques in every massage. One thing I remember from my Shiatsu training is that we should remember that every time the body is touched in any location, it is the whole body that is being touched. By imagining that the whole body is being touched, the flow of energy continues from the giver''s movement to the receiver''s whole body even if we concentrate the massage on a particular body part.
When working on the inner thigh, I find there is not quite enough room for me to work perpendicularly to the receiver's leg if I kneel inside their legs, and my spine ends up being twisted. I tried doing this technique by positioning myself on the outer side of the leg.
It feels wonderful to use the forearms to work on the legs. It gives a great relief to the hands.
It is very interesting to assess the hips by looking at the feet. The stretches are great although the legs feel a little heavy when being lifted when I lean back while pressing with my foot.
Thank you so much Shama for this wonderful course!
All the best to everyone,
You are right, Veronique, it does not make sense to rush through the course. It would defeat the purpose of a home study training anyway. It is much better to go through it gradually, really absorb it and develop good practice habits. In the end you will be a much better therapist for it.
Regarding pillows under the knees for the Chi Machine - I have never done that since I rarely ever get complaints about the knees. I often can tell just by looking at the legs if the Chi Machine is an appropriate technique or not. If the knees are 'hanging through' slightly, then it is not the correct choice.
Bottom line is that the art of Thai Massage is to know what technique to use on which client, and not do a "one size fits all" massage, meaning everyone gets the the same sequence of techniques. That's a mechanical session versus an intuitive, creative and really skilled session.
Try the pillow under the knees. If it works and you still get the effect, fine. If not, don't try to force the technique but just skip it if it causes any discomfort. I always tell my clients to tell me right away if anything does not feel right or comfortable to them. And in the case of certain techniques I ask during the session if it feels okay to them. It is always a good idea to communicate with clients if there is the possibility of discomfort.
As you say, a non-judgmental attitude is very important, as is a non-gender attitude. (Thai Massage is more intimate than other massage styles since it involves a lot of body contact between therapist and client.)
If you need to modify any technique to fit your body or your client's body, this is exactly what you should be doing. I modify techniques many times during a session. That's why Thai Massage is more of an art than a technique.
I often show various ways of doing a particular technique in my videos, and you can come up with more ways once you get better at it. Never feel shy to experiment. Observe your body and find out which way gives you the best leverage, the best ergonomics, the most body weight, and the least effort. That's the right way.
It sounds like you are totally understanding the important principles of Thai Massage. I am sure you will get very good at it!