Re: Foot Massage 1.
Wow! lots of lovely techniques to try in this session. I had to keep going back and watching the session to remember correct positioning mainly. I found taking notes really useful. The instruction is very comprehensive and clear so I am finding the techniques pretty easy to pick up but also really enjoying administering them. This in turn gives me confidence and motivation to keep practicing. I really liked your encouragement to be intuitive in allowing the body to find its way in connecting with what is being taught.
For anyone sceptical about distance learning-this is SO different. I have already started to incorporate aspects of this session into the Ayurvedic massage that I practice and the clients just love it! The squeezing and twisting manoeuveres feel very satisfying; almost like sculpting the body; I'm really enjoying this sensory aspect and feel that I connect with the client much more than in other types of massage that I do.
I found the second technique most challenging but I am now getting the hang of it with a bit of practice as my coordination is a bit rubbish!-I cant wait to learn more…: )
Sujatha, you have a great combination of courses since you are studying the Thai Massage and the Rocking Massage course. That's really the combination I use for my therapy work. Like you say, there is certainly no shortage of techniques. You cannot use all techniques for all sessions, but you will have a great repertoire to choose from so that you can use the particular moves that you like best, or that work best for a client.
You already found out one of the most important elements in this work, how to connect with your clients and feel the sensory element. This makes all the difference. You are not just giving a massage to someone, but you are creating a beautifully flowing sensory dance with someone's body and energy field. That's how it will feel once you get good at it.
Sure, some techniques will feel more challenging, but then again you are not expected to do them perfectly right immediately. That's a good thing about distance learning: you can always go back to a particular module and watch it again and practice until it feels right and natural.
Re: Foot Massage 2
I thought the recap of the previous module was very useful especially when put in the context of planes of movement; inversion, eversion etc. I very much connected with this application of movement to the anatomy of the joint-makes perfect sense and makes the process of learning easier and much more considered.
I put together all the techniques from this module and the previous one, plus some ideas from the Rocking massage course like the Chi Machine. I have never given such thorough footwork before; the massage along with the stretching techniques upon this small area truly makes for a powerful therapy.
I had a real sense of being a 'therapist' in terms of understanding the joint and its possibilities and then applying techniques to maximise mobility and flow of prana/chi. My client has never experienced any specific footwork and was quite surprised about how working on such a small area of the body has such a strong and satisfing effect. It felt a very thorough and effective session that was satisfying for both my client and myself as the therapist.
Just wondering if there are any specific stretches that can be performed on the toes or are they too delicate perhaps?
There are several quite small areas of the body that feel incredibly good when worked on: Feet, hands and ears. They all have something in common, namely that they all contain several pressure points that connect to many other areas of the body. This is the concept of foot reflexology, but the same concept applies to hand and ear massage as well. By working on those three relatively small areas you can experience blissful well being throughout the entire body.
Regarding your question about working on the toes: Here in Thailand many therapists like to rapidly and strongly pull the toes which results in a cracking sound. However many westerners don't like this technique very much as it can feel a bit violent. That's why I have not included it in my course.
However a gentle, slow and steady pulling of all the toes feels quite nice and does not have the intrusive feeling of the toe cracking method.
Re: Leg Warm-up
I particularly liked the Butterfly technique as I love applying pressure with my whole hands. My fingers are very small and quite delicate and I already have signs of wear and tear in some of my joints from giving tabletop massage; working in this way is therefore much more comfortable for me and I am generally quite strong overall.
I'm really enjoying the different and creative ways you 'block' the client's limbs to prevent unwanted movement – it really makes you feel like you know what you are doing! Also good to feel a continuity of movement as we apply techniques from earlier on – there is a real sense of building upon knowledge.
I am currently compiling a book which I have split into different body parts. Each section has a list of names for each technique that I have made up, so I can more easily remember the variety of things I am learning. Where you have named things like Butterly and Elephant Walk, I have kept these – it is proving to be a very useful reference tool and helps me to be more efficient in terms of creating sequences. I can't believe how much I have learnt so far and feel a real sense of achievement as I am able to draw from all the Rocking techniques too.
Re: Leg Warm-up with forearm
Using forearms is bliss! I could do it all day and it really saves my hands. The direct contact with the client (i.e. their leg over mine etc) while applying this sort of pressure is incredibly powerful while feeling so effortless and also very intimate and nurturing. You really feel a good sense of transferring Prana/Chi which helps to build a strong client-therapist relationship.
It's great to work so directly with the IT Band and thighs which many of my clients need a good deal of work on from running, gym, sports etc. I'm a big fan of what I have termed the 'Vice' technique; the one where you clasp your hands and use your arms to squeeze the thigh into you - awesome! I'm also finding the way you make slight adjustments to the position of the leg, in order to work inner, mid and outer thigh very effective. I think this is the best massage I have ever given!
I have a general question just out of interest, about how Thai massage was originally used as part of Traditional Thai Medicine to treat diseases - do you know of any articles, links, books etc. re its clinical application.
Regarding your question how Thai Massage was originally used as part of traditional Thai Medicine, there are some references in this article which I have written:
Thai Massage was traditionally used in conjunction with herbal treatments. However herbal doctors have to go through lengthy training, and the vast majority of Thai Massage therapists in Thailand do not have this education. Originally Thai Massage was often used in temple settings and even practiced by monks. This has mostly died out and Thai Massage has moved into the mainstream society.
When I first studied Thai Massage, one of the schools that I attended did have the herbal education unit, but it was only accessible to Thais. However sometimes all the students, Thai Massage teachers and herbal doctors went out to a village and spent one entire day providing free care to all the villagers at the local temple.
You can read my story about one of those excursions here:
There are several books about Thai Massage that explain more about the history of Thai Massage. However there is not much material published about clinical applications. One reason is that Thai medicine was largely an oral tradition. A second reason is a lot of ancient medical knowledge was destroyed in the Burmese invasion of the previous capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya.
A third reason is that whatever was written down was rarely translated into English. The popularity of Thai Massage in the western world is a rather recent phenomenon. The Thai medical and clinical knowledge never became popular outside of Thailand and has been overshadowed by the better known Chinese medical models.
There is one Thai Massage school in the US which follows the traditional model and does research into clinical applications.
Re: Leg Stretches 1
I was very excited to start using my feet in this lesson-the thigh treading is what I always used to picture in my mind when thinking of Thai massage! At one point, because my client is relatively heavy, I blocked his straight leg with my leg (instead of holding beneath the knee) and used two hands to hold his ankle (my ouside hand was threaded under my thigh to be able to grab his ankle- if that makes sense?!). It felt fine but just want to check that it's ok to do this?.
'Elephant Walking' on the 'Tree' pose leg, I found very effective. My client found it a little strong after some time so I rocked the position as you had suggested and then alternated with the stronger stretch. It really makes you aware of how sensitive, alert and aware you need to be of the clients body and how important it is to keep communicating.
The final technique where the hip lifts off the floor I had learnt in The Rocking course but it was great to connect it up with the previous two techniques and made a very satisfying sequence that flowed well. I was a bit nervous about how I would cope with the legs but was pleasantly surprised how easily I picked it up-I guess it just feels so nice to watch and to do that it somehow helps you connect and remember.
Re: Leg Stretches 2
The 'Hip Pie' visualisation was very helpful and made total sense. You have a great way of communicating Shama-I'm sure you will come up with some sort of course dealing with this aspect if you haven't done so already!
In my normal massage routine, working the calves is one of my favorite areas to work on but I have a limited number of things I can do. I was therefore delighted to add these calf techniques to my repertoire.
The transition from the last lesson to this in the same position felt like a very resourceful way of working-so many things to do from one position! I tried both the power technique of the hip stretch and the Rocking version; again is was great to alternate the two as my client felt the power version quite strongly. I really enjoyed being able to apply this amount of leverage and it worked very well for me.
Just out of interest, are you familiar with PNF or METS stretching and if so do you ever use it in combination with Thai massage techniques?.
Another question is how much is it ok to be creative-for example-would it be ok to put the client in supine Cobblers pose where both soles of the feet touch each other and then elephant walk on both thighs, or wrap the legs in Eagle pose and move the knees towards the chest etc. As I am a Yoga teacher and massage therapist already, I'm presuming it's a matter of applying common sense and communicating with the client?
Re: Leg stretches 1
I sometimes need to use both hands too for the thigh treading if I have a client with very big legs. But if that's the case I generally just use the next technique in this position where I hook the client's foot under my knee. This is a more stable position and gives you more leverage when you work on heavier clients.
Re: leg stretches 2
I just recorded an addition to my hamstring therapy course which shows you several more calf techniques in the prone position. I am sure you will end up with that course sooner or later:)
I am not familiar with PNF or METS stretching. There are so many great techniques out there. I would need more than one lifetime to learn them all!
I have new techniques bubbling up in my head all the time. Many times when I work on a client I spontaneously come up with new techniques. Once I get into a flow state, an innate creativity takes over. I have no idea where it all comes from, but this flow state is an amazing source of creativity for me.
Massage therapy has to be creative. If it is just a fixed routine, repeated endlessly, it gets pretty boring after a while, I imagine. I never had that problem since I rarely use fixed routines in my sessions. I let the massage unfold based on what the client's body tells me.
This is not exactly a beginner's prescription. First you do have to learn the techniques. But once you don't have to think about them anymore, once they are part of you, then by all means let your creativity flow.
By the way, the very last module in the Thai Massage series is just about how to communicate effectively with your clients.
Re: Leg Stretches 3
Some pretty strong stretches in this session. I usually work with clients who are quite open so this was really interesting and useful material for me. However my case study is not very open so I had to use a good deal of sensitivity and carefully monitor intensity through feedback.
In some instances I was only moving what felt like an inch! My client is generally, heavy and stiff which I feel is good thing as I am gaining experience working with a more challenging body from the outset.
The sequence presented here I felt was a good session in itself and worked very deeply. I felt I was really working therapeutically rather than giving a general treatment/massage as I seemed to be helping to release some very deep seated tensions in a particular area.
I did try the hamstring stretch for more flexible people (my leg against the back of the clients leg) but was very cautious. I held the stretch statically for about 30 seconds and then was able to go a little further. Before this and intermitently throughout he session I added lots of rocking/rotations to warm up and to vary intensity.
I feel so much more confident now. This has been helped by taking some time out to go through all the Rocking and Thai massage videos to date and checking through ergonomics especially.
Re: Leg Stretches 4 & Summary
Again, I enjoyed learning some stronger stretches. My client was quite sensitive to the one where the leg is taken across the body and stretched up and the calf stretch. I also tried the stronger version of the twist where I hold the clients leg down with my leg but again approached this very gently and held it until the body released.
The technique where I lift up my heel to roll the clients leg out was amazing-I would never have thought to have used my body this way! There were a number of positions on the last two videos where I am lunging backwards and forth which gives the practice another new flowing dynamic.
I followed your exact same routine that you demonstrated in the Summary session and was very pleased with my achievement. I added in some upper body work and rocking and the feedback was great; my client felt as if he had undergone a professional session and it no longer felt like I was practicing:)
The 'Blood Stopping' was also well received and I was happy to do this on my client as he is my husband also. Unfortunately for some reason my insurance states that they will not cover me for 'Blood Flushing' which I assume is the same thing. I noted that you said that you had practiced this technique for many years and that it was safe. Do you think they are just being over-cautious here - could anything potentially go wrong? I remember you mentioned varicose veins.
Yes, it is very important to practice on different size clients, small and big, light and heavy, skinny and muscular. Over time you will find that you use totally different massage techniques for those different body types. That's why I always present various ways of doing a particular move. Thai Massage is definitely not a one-size-fits-all modality.
I don't know what the insurance company refers to as "blood flush", but I cannot imagine that it has anything to do with the "blood stop" which I teach, since it is a pretty exotic and unknown technique. Actually the "blood stop" does not stop anything. It reduces blood flow in order to build up pressure, which then increases circulation and Chi flow, along with a very pleasant feeling of warmth and tingling.
This massage technique is totally safe unless someone has a serious problem with varicose veins or circulatory issues. That should come out in the pre-session interview, and if it is the case, just skip this technique.
Personally I have never had any problem with this Thai Massage move and I cannot even remember one case where I had to consciously skip it. But then again, it is not something which I automatically do in all my sessions. I don't follow a set routine generally.
That's really great that you get more into the feeling that you are working therapeutically and that you feel much more confident with your Thai Massage and Thai Rocking Massage work. I am sure your partner/client/husband is enjoying it!
Re: PART 2 Hip Stretches 1
Today I was able to work on my sister who is the same height and build as myself and quite open in the hips. As she is generally quite flexible I assumed I could take some of the stretches further than I had previously with my husband. However she had unexpected areas of tightness (from lots of horseriding) which has taught me to assume nothing! Positions (mine) that had seemed easy before were now more challenging and I was constantly having to reorientate myself to a this new body. The same stretch on two bodies can be so different in application and feel which seems like common sense but still surprised me a little in terms of HOW different. It almost felt as if I was starting the course again! It has really highlighted the importance of practicing lots on a wider clientele. I especially liked the transition from the calf stretch where both feet rest on my abdomen (the back and forth movement with traction is great and flows really nicely) to the hip stretch where I simply stand up from the previous position. I found this session to be very dynamic and quite strong especially the final stretch where both feet are pressed together and lie on my shins-like an assisted Yoga Cobblers pose. I was able to take my client deep in this position which she found very releasing. I am now going to practice the same session on my husband to compare.
Re: Hip Stretches 2
This session was good timing and very useful when repeating the previous session on my husband where I had to be very careful with some of the deeper work. The constant assessment and feedback to acertain if the stretch was releasing rather than causing more discomfort gave me confidence and the client trust as it helped him to know that I was monitering and aware of every inch moved. I found the warm up work on the groin very useful in terms of preparation and in terms of helping the client relax and letting go mentally. Personally this is the way forward for me I think as I would like to focus on particular areas rather than a full body Thai massage. Incorporating massage techniques before the stretch or returning to it if the stretch is too much feels a very connecting and reassuring way to work. Before completing the final stretch of the 'hip pie' I worked on all the rest of the pie which was a fabulous therapy session in itself and very effective.
You are right, working on different people can feel totally different. That's how you can develop the real skills of Thai Massage. If you learn through experience how to adapt to different body types and sizes, you will spontaneously modify your techniques and even come up with variations that you had never done before and never even seen anywhere. That's when it becomes really intuitive and inspirational.
Focusing on particular areas of the body is a great skill to develop. It takes you out of the mechanical frame of mind of doing a set whole body sequence on everyone.
Personally I have not done a "normal" whole body Thai Massage session in years. All of my clients come to me for specific therapeutic work which is more localized than more general whole body work.
Today I worked for two hours just on someone's right leg. He really needed it and wants me to repeat this next time on his left leg. I am not advocating to always work on one body part exclusively, but sometimes this is necessary and welcome by the client. So we have to have the skills to do that.
I have heard the argument that you should always work on the entire body to "balance" things out. Personally I do not agree with this theory. If you really go deep in a session, it simply takes quite some time. Working on the entire body often does not allow enough time to hone in on one area that needs serious attention, unless there is no time limit to the session.
In my therapy sessions I rarely work on the entire body. Here in Thailand where I live, it is very hard to find a therapist who can do a session which is NOT a standard whole body session. The one thing that my clients really appreciate is that I CAN stay on one area and work on the problem until there is an obvious improvement.
To facilitate this focused therapy work, I have created an entire series of specific therapy video courses that train you how to work on problem areas effectively.
However in order to be able to work more therapeutically and in a more localized fashion, it is necessary to first have the foundation of the entire Thai Massage training, and then continue building one's skills even further.
Re: Hip Rocking and Abdomen & Chest
I think I have covered most of the material in these modules on the Thai Rocking Massage course. The technique of pulling the side of the back up while pushing the knee of the leg down (in a bent back position) was new and extremely effective on my clients thighs which are quite tight from repetitive work in the gym (stationary bike, cross trainer etc) Just bending the leg back was quite strong for him so I worked very gently asking for constant feedback. This is a very useful stretch for my 'tool kit' as there are I find only a limited number of ways to stretch the quads in Yoga without it being too strong and pulling on the front of the knee. It's good to have a passive option which is quite unusual also.
Working under the ribcage near the stomache and liver while working with the clients breath is something I have already incorporated into my existing therapeutic work and am delighted to now have this technique. In my practice which is Yoga Therapy based on the Ayurvedic system of medicine, the liver and stomache accumulate alot of heat causing various ailments. I usually use general abdominal massage to relieve the tension in these areas. Working with the breath and more direct pressure over specific areas/organs takes the treatment to another level.
I really liked the continuity of the shoulder work which builds on previous material. The combination of massage and mobilisation worked well to release tension from my clients shoulders, neck and even back.
When pulling up the shoulders with both hands I initially found it a little difficult to keep my back straight against my clients weight but once I found a rhythmn and stopped panicking I somehow corrected myself without thinking. I think this highlighted your point about not doing things mechanically but about engaging with the energy created and working with its flow.
The transition between each shoulder technique from straddling over to sitting on my heel to sitting on the floor and finally taking the legs out straight to 'paddle' the arm worked really well for me as a mini sequence and helped me remember each part. It felt 'artful' and satisfying to apply.
The final two stretches are probably my favorite upper body techniques to do: 'paddling' the arm with the edge of the foot and stretching the tricep back. In the former I also used the edge of my foot along the inside of the upper arm as well as in the armpit a bit like working on the inner thigh in a similar way-is this ok?
My client enjoyed it but I just wanted to check that it was safe to do. The triceps stretch was too strong on my clients right wrist and thumb due to a previous injury that has made these places weak so I went immediately to the hand massage techniques which strangely sent him to sleep!
The left side was fine and I was able to explore the dynamics of this stretch much better as both a wrist opener and tricep stretch-would it also be ok to pull the arm forward from behind as an alternative to pushing the arm away? An unrelated question!-in this course do you teach us how to do the bridge as you illustrate I think on your website homepage; where the clients back is arched over your outstretched feet?
Re: Arms & Hands
I performed this sequence on my client while supine and also while sitting up. I have never bothered too much with hand massage before and have always tagged it onto the end of a general massage-if there is time.
As mentioned before my client fell asleep during the practice which was pleasantly surprising. He holds a lot of tension in his hands and arms from constantly playing and holding up the guitar so I think this was a strong release for him-he reported feeling very relaxed after both sessions and I could see it in his face which looked like he had had a full body or head massage.
The application for these techniques I feel could be used in a variety of situations with my clients eg. those who play raquet sports, spend long hours with the computer mouse, various types of musicians, manual labourers etc.
You automatically assume that a nice back massage is going to do the trick but I guess if someone is predominantly using their hands and arms all day they are going to have more of a profound response to working on those areas. Common sense I know!
I tried the hand massage in a seated position and used an aromatherapy cream while the client lay back with a scented eye pillow - awesome feedback and so convenient and easy to do. I intend to explore this further with the use of compresses and hot stones-am quite excited about it : )
It would also be good to do in (Yoga therapy) a seated yoga position in terms of allowing time for the posture to take effect in a really nice way with the added hand massage. Each technique although fairly simple was very effective when put together as a sequence and had a nice meditative quality when for example rolling down the fingers for a good length of time.