My past experience of distance learning has been quite disappointing. However the offering presented on your website was very appealing and the training delivered at a very reasonable cost. Well, I’m extremelly glad I followed my instinct! Your personal care and service has been exceptional and it is quite clear that you are interested in helping students LEARN rather than just teaching.
I love the way you have divided the course up into easily digestable chunks with excellent instruction which is easy to follow. I am quite an impatient person who wants to learn everything at once so this approach has made me slow down, pay attention and most importantly practice lots. It is a very effective way to learn and gives me the space and opportunity to personally contact you if I need to check anything.
I am already a Yoga teacher and massage therapist so your training is a godsend to me as it is helping me put both modalities together (which in the uk I am insured to do though I am insured seperatly for Yoga and massage)
I have been practicing the Chi Machine Technique which is just awesome. My client loves it and finds it very relaxing. He is quite heavy compared to me so it’s a great technique as I am getting great results and feedback with minimum effort. I have been using a ‘singing bowl timer’ which is an app I have downloaded onto my phone. I have set it for every 2 minutes so that I can really get into the rhythm of the massage without clockwatching. The hip assessment has also been a very useful and interesting tool and gives so much more depth to the practice. My clients hips are quite tight so I have been focusing on rocking the legs so far. Cant wait for the next module which comes tonight…I’ts like waiting for a little present to come through the post!
Thanks so much for your kind words, I really appreciate it. You are right, my personal support is one important factor which sets all my training courses apart from most other distance learning courses. Also we have a great community portal here in the forum which will grow over time, I am sure.
All my longer courses follow the gradual delivery method which has proven very effective for my students. And I am constantly producing new courses and more advanced and specific training material. I love sharing with my students and other practitioners and therapists. Welcome aboard, glad to have you with us!
Re: Leg Rocking 1
Now that I have learnt the correct body positions to administer this technique, I am really enjoying the rhythm and flow of the leg Rock. This session really taught me the importance of protecting my own body which I haven't paid too much attention to in the past. I am quite small so learning to use my bodyweight correctly has transformed my practice and the way I work. I am really enjoying being able to give an effective massage with minimum effort. This in turn has given me much confidence as I no longer worry about being able to apply enough pressure as I am very small at 5ft 1! You mention somewhere about the tiny Thai women who are expert therapists-this is very inspiring and reminded me of the amazing work they do. There is some great clips on YouTube that I have also been watching.
Shama, if someone is very open in the hips I was still thinking of using this technique as a warm up for deeper assisted stretching-do you think this could be another application for it?
Many rocking techniques, if done correctly, affect most of the body, not just the area you are working on with your hands. If you rock the legs, the upper body will move as well. That's the great thing about rocking: You work on one body part directly, but indirectly you are working on the whole body. For example if you rock the hips, your client will automatically receive a back massage since he or she will rock on their own backs while you move the hip.
The Chi Machine is also a great example for this. It affects the entire body from head to toe. To answer your question, leg rocking is an effective preparation for many possible stretches. Even if people are open in the hips, it is still very useful since it is moving Chi in the body. The effect of rocking goes way beyond a physical warm up. Rocking massage works as much on the energy field as on the body.
You are correct, if you leverage your body weight properly, you can be very effective even when working on much heavier clients. Most female therapists in Thailand are about your size and weigh around 50 kg/110lbs, and this has never stopped them from working on westerners almost double their size and weight.
January 9, 2011
This whole series of videos has been fantastic! I love the thought out and detailed explanations of the modules. Everything is laid out to give a solid foundation then move into more detailed work, not just with the Thai Rocking Series, but with the Thai course as well as the Heavenly Head Massage courses.
What is more important is that my clients LOVE THE TECHNIQUES. (I normally don’t use caps, but in this case it is well warranted). Shama, you are an excellent instructor, and should I ever make it to Thailand I would love to meet and sit with you to deepen my own interpretation and understanding.
Michael P. Barnes LMBT 8913, RMT
Michael, I am always excited when I see you investing in a new training course of mine. I really love it when I can help people take their massage skills to another level. It drives my enthusiasm to produce new innovative massage courses. I always have more course ideas in my mind than I have the time to produce, but I do have two new courses in the making!
Re: Hip Stretches 1
I feel I was able to pick up these techniques quite easily. I watched the session twice before attempting anything and took notes. I then practiced on my client and went back to the video to check what I had done. There were some corrections again in terms of my own body and hand positioning but learning in this way is very effective and I feel I have really absorbed the instruction well now and am able to practice confidently. I love the physical assessments you give us to do which really gives depth to what we are learning. This means we can apply the techniqes on a more therapeutic level and really tailor the sessions. In the last stretch where the client's leg is in tree position, would it be safe to go into lying Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana) with both feet connected or would this be too strong a stretch; maybe it could be modified with supports/pillows beneath the legs?. My favourite technique in this session is the bent leg hip stretch where the hip and lower back lifts of the floor; it feels rather empowering being able to lift a heavy client in this way without hardly doing anything. I really enjoy the dynamics and flow of this movement. Your understanding of body mechanics (and communication of them) and creative vision for these modules is just awesome : )
Re: Hip Stretches 2/Spinal Twist
This session required me to focus more on attention to detail to absorb the variety of more advanced techniques. I practiced and alternated with watching the video several times until I had grasped everything which is the beauty of being able to learn this way. When I practiced rocking the bent leg from left shoulder to right shoulder, my client reported feeling discomfort/twisting in the knee. Is this because I am perhaps doing domething wrong or just that the client has tight knees and is going to feel it here because of this? When I first tried the spinal twist I was using a lot of effort to rock but realised when I watched the video back that I was only using my arms instead of lunging back and forth-this made a massive difference to my energy output! I am now starting to note down corrections I need to make after re-watching the video and having practiced on my client. Revision of these corrections has really accelerated my learning. I have also found that experimenting with the speed of the movement and combining it with static stretching or holding a part of the stretch down for a few seconds is really good. It seems to bring a more intuitive element into the practice as sometimes I feel the client enjoys just being still for a moment and going a little deeper. It feels an effective contrast with the fluidity of the rocking and opens up a little more time to focus on the breath.
Re: Hip Rocking
I firstly went over a handful of things from the previous session that I had not grasped correctly. This has been really good to reinforce my learning.
My client really enjoyed the hip rocking techniques. His favourite so far. He felt they were really dynamic and affected the rest of the body more. I experimented as you suggested with putting various rocks together in a seamless movement-this was totally awesome! and required some creativity and thought in order to make the routine fluid and continuous. This is what really draws me to the non-tradditional aspect of your work; that one can be creative and expressive as well as drawing on a tried and tested methodology. I found the technique where you keep rocking the side of the body up with both hands, physically a little more challenging as my client is comparitivly heavy but it still worked well. Most of my clients are smaller and female and I cant wait to try it on them as I will be able to get more leverage. I feel I am now getting the grasp of positioning my body correctly and am already begining to work more intuitively in terms of putting things I have learnt so far together. Working also as an Ayurvedic Therapist, the centre of the body is very important-hip rocking is a fantastic addition to stimulating this area and is a real compliment to more direct ways of working on the abdomen.
Sujatha, it sure seems like you are totally grasping the material and implementing it well. Rocking is never a fixed sequence. Like you said, if something is too difficult on a heavy client, you just don't do it. And if pillow support makes a certain technique easier, that's the right thing to do. I have always found that the more I apply the rocking moves, the more I spontaneously figure out what to do next and what works for which type of problem or client. Once you know the basic techniques, it becomes a very intuitive process where you get more and more into a flow state, and you will feel what is right and how it can be modified.
Regarding the knee pain issue: This particular stretch does not normally impact the knee. Try to see if it is possible to move the angle of the leg in a way that your client does not feel stress at the knee. Normally people feel the intensity of this stretch in the hip. But going to the opposite shoulder is quite an intense stretch anyway. Often I just do a big circling motion instead if the client is somewhat stiff (around min 2.00). Or you can rock the bent leg sideways without moving it down towards the opposite shoulder (around min 8.00).
If one technique does not seem to be suited for a client, you can always use another one. That's why I present many different ways of doing things. They are options to choose from. It is like picking the right tool for a job.
You can certainly mix rocking moves with holding or static type moves. Very flexible clients might enjoy the static stretches more since they don't need to be rocked into a position as much as stiffer clients.
Regarding rocking the midsection of the body: Yes, this is very effective, and I go even deeper with this in my Abdominal Massage course module. I often do 1 hour rocking sessions just on the abdomen and midsection/hip area.
You are correct, distance learning through video enables you to re-watch a session until you really 'get' it. That's a big advantage, and many of my students tell me that they like the fact that they can always go back to previous modules and refresh their memory about any topic.
I looks like you are doing great, Sujatha! I am so glad to read your feedback and experiences with my course.
Re: Midsection/Abdomen Rocking
Though my client is relatively heavy I was still able to perform all the techniques taught in this session to some degree. I was not able to lift and swing as high as I wanted to and it was pretty challenging physically but I was still able to experience executing the techniques. This helped me to see how I can easily apply the work to lighter clients and I very much look forward to this.
I really enjoyed administering the second technique where I kneaded the thighs with the back of my forearms while rocking slowly side to side-a big favorite! I found the abdominal work quite straight forward and very effective with good feedback from the client who often suffers from bloating. He liked the directness of the work here and the way it related to all parts of the body.
I would like some advice on the following if possible: I recently purchased a luxurious, thick shiatsu mat but which is too heavy to carry around. I intend to visit clients at home more so have made my own kit consisting of: two sticky yoga mats placed side by side.
Running down the centre is a cotton Yoga mat and top of this is a very soft blanket so the client has something nice against their skin. I also have a small cushion for their head and a foam pad for my knees. This all folds up nicely and is quite light and portable. Do you think this is ok? Do they use anything else in Thailand apart from matresses, like straw mats, blankets etc. Also do you know what was used traditionally-was it just a blanket/towel?
Re: Chest & Shoulders
A very enjoyable and effective session to administer as it was less physically demanding on me (working with this particular client). My client suffers from asthma and congestion as well as tight shoulders from standing playing a guitar. These techniques were therefore a great relief for him and feedback was very positive.
I don’t usually work very much on the chest and shoulder area while the client is in a supine position in the other forms of body work that I do, so I am very excited to be able to add these techniques to my toolbox. It feels less intimate than massaging the chest such as in Swedish type massage so I would feel much more comfortable addressing this area with rocking techniqes on a wide variety of clients. It makes a session so much more complete and is a lovely way to connect with the heart and lungs.
It also excites me from an ayurvedic standpoint as it has many applications for dealing with issues related to the chest, heart, circulation etc (Vyana vayu). My only difficulty with this particular client, as I am so short, was to keep his legs clamped down while I rocked the shoulders up, as my legs were too short!
Generally I found the techniques easy to pick up and put into practice as the instruction was very indepth and clear. It was also very useful to see you rock from both sides so that I could check your body position.
Regarding what was used in Thailand traditionally, a while ago I wrote a very personal story of mine which will give you a pretty good idea how it worked here. And it is a good read, I am sure you will like it!
Regarding Chest and Shoulders module: I have quite a few clients who request shoulder therapy, and I developed a big repertoire through lots of experience for working on shoulders. Therefore I was recently inspired to create a new therapy course just about shoulder work. It is almost done and it will be a really good one. I will send an email around as soon as I complete it.
Re: Arms & Summary
I’m definitely signing up for the shoulder module when it’s completed. Nearly all my clients have some complaint or another involving the shoulder/upper back/neck area. I have very tight shoulders myself and instructed my partner to try these techniques on me so I could experience them. In the past I have been in agony when Thai masseurs have worked on my shoulders so this was an important and exciting step forward in my understanding of bodywork.
As a Yoga teacher I could never understand why one had to experience pain and thus tense muscles as a result of this pain, when the whole point was to release and relax. These techniques are a great boon for people like me and intelligently exposes the ‘no pain no gain’ myth. My response to this type of shoulder work was that I felt relaxed and rejuvenated mentally as well as physically released.
I feel this totally abides by yogic principles (Ahimsa) and promotes the practice of massage to a much more thoughtful and considered level. The communication techniques were brilliant and makes it a much more rounded, creative and mind-body practice. In terms of administering these techniques, it was just great to see and feel the client mentally ‘letting go’ and the profound effect it had on the body. They are such gentle and satisfying techniques to give; quite meditative for both the therapist and the client, and yet so powerful and effective.
The demonstration you gave was very inspiring and beautiful-it really made you want to experience it. It makes quite a difference when you see it all flowing together like that-almost like a Thai Yoga Vinyasa! I’m pretty sure that lots of therapists would love to learn this massage here in the uk. I will surely be sending my students in your direction.
Re: Sacrum & Back
Absolutely loved this session. The lower back is my favorite area to work on and I could have stayed here all day (especially on the one where you sit on the glutes!). Part of my work involves working with Autistic adults-mainly aromatherapy massage and stretching. Today for this session, I worked these techniques in with my usual routine with one particular ‘high functioning client’ whom I have a very good relationship with.
It was my expectation that the client would be stimulated and awake due to the movement involved in the rocking technique-WRONG-she was snoring minutes into the session! I was very touched when at the end of massage she asked me if we could do the same thing next week as it made her ‘feel calm’.
I explained that the rocking makes you feel calm and cuddled like a baby and she gave me the biggest smile-it was a lovely, throat-lump moment : ) Thinking about it, many of the clients rock themselves back and forth to relieve and control their anxieties. It was almost as if my client was giving me permission to help relieve her anxiety by letting me rock her-if that makes sense; relinquishing control and thus just letting go-very, very interesting and an area that deserves to be further explored with Autistic disorders.
Rhythm, connection, continuous flow and unbroken transition were very important I feel, in achieving such a positive outcome.
Re: your post about the arms and summary module:
You captured the main points perfectly.
- “No pain no gain” is a myth in my book, lots of pain is not only not necessary in order to be effective with therapeutic massage, it is counterproductive as you stated since it makes you tighten up.
- Rocking massage is definitely done with yogic principles in mind, as are all my massage modalities. This is what takes it to another level: good body posture and body awareness, combining movement with breath, directing energy flow, and a meditative attitude which results in a beautiful flow of the techniques.
I am just working on a course called “Energy Techniques for Massage” where I go much deeper with all those concepts. Should be done soon.
Re: your post about the sacrum and back module:
I think shoulders, upper back, neck and lower back are probably the most requested therapy requests that I get from my clients. I have never met anyone who does not love sacrum work, and very few therapists even touch it. Whenever I work on the back, I automatically include a good amount of sacrum/glutes work. Many clients come to me just for that. It is definitely a very useful skill to have.
Your last sentence again pinpoints essential elements: “Rhythm, connection, continuous flow and unbroken transition.” Rocking really rocks! I have used it successfully on many dis-eases, both physical and emotional, and it always seems to help.
Re: Back Techniques
I know I will be using all of these techniques ALOT with my clients. Until now I have only worked on a massage table when doing back work. Working on the floor is amazing and the table just seems really restrictive now. Floor work seems to allow for deeper work and a freedom of movement which enhances relaxation. With my small frame I am able to apply more pressure working in this way and my client has really noticed the difference especially working on the back.
The scapula work and twist are such a pleasure to give. I have never seen these techniques before-they are fascinating. With the twist I did a combination of rocking/circling, rocking up and down and then a static stretch-my client reported this being very effective. The spine is something I focus a lot on with my Yoga students who come for therapy so the spinal rocking movements are just what I am looking for in terms of advancing and developing my practice.
Working directly over the back rather than from the side as is done with table work makes such a difference. I am now working comparatively effortlessly yet more directly and with more power. It feels empowering!
I did find another solution to my mattress dilema! I bought two large pieces of (non-toxic, environmentally friendly and recyclable) carpet underlay (I stack one on top of the other) sold commonly here in the UK. It is made of chipped foam and matches the traditional Yoga blocks you can buy (used alot by Iyengar teachers). They are of 10mm thickness each but very firm and bundle up easily. I cover them up with a cotten sheet and towels and tie them up with a Yoga strap when I’m done. It’s very cheap as well and provides excellent cushioning/support for the knees.
Especially for people with small frames like you, working on the floor is a huge advantage over working on a table. You just cannot use your body weight as effectively on a table since you cannot get right on top of people.
I have seen therapists climb on top of tables and even stand on tables when doing Thai Massage, but then what's the point of the table in the first place! You might as well work on the floor which is much easier to do. It allows you to move gracefully around your client and use your body in the ideal way ergonomically. Working on the floor definitely increases your power. In your case it helps a lot that you do yoga which means your body is easily capable of moving around on a floor mat.
If someone lacks the flexibility that is needed to move around on the floor, or has pretty stiff knees and hip, then a table can be a good alternative, but whenever possible, floor work will work better for this kind of massage, especially for the back.
It sounds like you are doing a great job with the Thai Rocking Massage, and you clearly understand the principles behind it. Congratulations!
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