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Archive for the ‘Thai-Yoga Bodywork’ Category

Arch CompressionsSo in addition to two weekend trainings, Mardi Gras weekend, 20 blog posts in February, a part-time job that pays the mortgage, a full load of clients, managing the AMTA-AL website and developing the retention plans for the membership committee, I decided the first weekend following the February madness absolutely had to be filled with more Thai training.

How could I pass it up? Mukti was coming to Birmingham. I had to go.

After Rossiter training last weekend, I’m exhausted and excited, but mostly exhausted. I’ve arranged to buy a set of stands so that I can begin offering Rossiter ASAP. Hopefully I’ll be picking those up in the next couple of weeks. The good news is the stands are really the only equipment needed for the level of training I have. I’ll be writing more on Rossiter and how I think it can help my clients in the very near future.

But back to the Thai training. You may remember that I’ve been working on making a Thai mat. The hurry was ultimately for this class. I wanted to use it for the Rossiter, but that class was so crowded they asked for a regular yoga mat instead. So the new mat will be getting a workout this weekend. I hope it goes well. It has to be better than the “thick blanket” that was requested as equipment for the class. I can’t imagine crawling around on my knees all weekend on no padding.

I am excited for the new knowledge and getting to practice and reinforce the techniques I learned back in December. And also to see Mukti again. I also understand there are going to be a few people in the training I know so it will be good to see friends and make a few new ones. And I’ll be staying with my cousin who I don’t get to see often enough.

There are so many positives to this whole weekend plan that I hate to even think about how tired I’m going to be when it’s all over. It will all be worth it, but I can tell you now that the plan for the next weekend is to lie about on the couch. And maybe eat a bon-bon.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Newest Provider of Thai-Yoga Bodywork

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DIY Thai Mat

102_6081 copy Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? It’s taken long enough to get this Thai mat done anyway. I took my first Thai mat class back in late November. Then December happened which is always a very busy month between all the stressed out clients wanting last minute appointments before the holidays and then the holidays. Then there was January with everyone trying to recover from the holidays and all those resolutions. I don’t remember exactly when I made the first phone call to kick this project off, but I thought it might be something interesting to do a little tutorial on because it was easy and kind of cheap if you have the skills and hardware.

So for you interested folks, here is how I made my very first homemade Thai mat. Before you begin thinking I’m a genius for dreaming this up, I was inspired by a certain someone who I met during my Fijian Barefoot massage class in Nashville.

How to Make a (Stripped Down on the Cheap) Thai Mat

Step 1: Call a carpet store. You are looking for the padding that goes underneath carpet. My local store didn’t have any scraps that would work, so I ended up purchasing two pieces each 76″ wide by 45″ long. Cost: $15.87

Step 2: Stack the two pieces of padding on top of each other and make sure they are squared up. Mine weren’t so I trimmed it to be approximately equal.

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Pardon the messiness in the background. Our rec room is a “wreck”!

Step 3: Go to a thrift store and buy a king size sheet. Cost: $4

Step 4: Sew the sheet into a giant pillowcase. You may need a ruler, tape measure, calculator and knee pads for this step. You’ll definitely want a sewing machine unless you’re just an animal and have a lot of time on your hands. The sheet I bought fit perfectly when I folded it in half lengthwise and sewed the bottom and sides up. At this point you’ll want to start thinking about how to close the top of the giant pillowcase. I chose to use Velcro, but snaps or ties would work. Or you could just sew it closed. I chose not to because I wanted to be able to remove the giant pillowcase and wash it occasionally.

Step 5: Go to the sewing store and buy something to close the top of your giant pillowcase (buy 2 times the amount you need if you’re making an outer cover).

While you’re at the store you may also want to buy some cotton duck fabric to make a more durable outer covering for your do-it-yourself Thai mat. I think I bought about 6.5 yards, but I don’t remember exactly and you’ll need to do math for the size of your mat. Oh and if you’re a math major (like me) and can no longer add without an Excel spreadsheet then the nice folks at the sewing store can help you figure out how much fabric you need to do the job. Very nice people in sewing stores usually. Cost: Velcro (free-I already had it from another project), Cotton duck – ~$40 on sale at Hancock Fabrics

This is looking great mommy! When do I get my Thai massage?

This is looking great mommy! When do I get my Thai massage?

Step 6: Hem the top of the giant pillowcase and install your closures.

Step 7: Put the giant pillowcase on the carpet padding mats. Good luck and get ready to crawl around on the floor and sweat.

Step 8: So now it’s time to figure out how to form all that cotton duck fabric into another giant pillowcase. Hopefully you kept notes from when you talked to the nice lady at the fabric store so you know how to put this thing together. I had to take two pieces of fabric and run it cross ways to the mat to make a pillowcase large enough. Since I didn’t take pictures during this step if you need better descriptors, just ask and I’ll be glad to help you.

Step 9: Hem and install the closures for the cotton duck pillowcase.

Step 10: Wrestle the cotton duck pillowcase onto the mat and Viola! You are done! And sweaty! But you have a nice soft place to lay down and take a nap 🙂

I will probably make some “pillows” using this method, but for now I’m just going to try to get through the rest of February before taking on any more projects.

So here for your convenience is a supply list: 2 sections of carpet padding cut to the size of your mat, one thrift store sheet sized appropriately, cotton duck fabric to cover your mat sized appropriately, closure notions (Velcro, snaps, or extra fabric to make ties), scissors, measuring tape and/or a hardware tape measure, coordinating thread, sewing machine, carpet cutting blade and maybe some other stuff I’ve forgotten about. And you’ll definitely want to think about a beer after you’re done, but only if you don’t have clients lining up already.

And if you’re keeping track of the budget this whole project cost around $60 which is about half the cost of the cheapest Thai mats I was looking at online.

I’ll have to let you know how it compares to the mats I learned on. Already it performed quite well on the hardwood floor in the house. I’ll be taking it to a Rossiter training and another Thai-Yoga training in the next few weeks so I’ll do a review on my own “product” as soon as I have some results to report.

If you decide to make your own, let me know how it turns out!

A finished Thai Mat!

A finished Thai Mat!

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Newest Provider of Thai-Yoga Massage

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Arch CompressionsWhen I wrote back in January about the Thai Yoga Bodywork class I took, Lauren asked about it. She was baffled and had not heard of it so I promised her a more in-depth discussion. I should probably say here that I don’t yet feel qualified to even begin to define what it is.

I can tell you my experience with Thai massage, but I am a novice. Think kindergarten. My sum total of Thai experience is the 24 hours I took with Mukti, described in the link above and the 17 hours of Ashi-Thai I took with Jeni Spring.

Ashi-Thai is a westernized interpretation of Thai massage that is performed on a table with overhead bars for balance, support and stabilization for the therapist as they use their feet and legs to move the client through a series of yoga-like stretches (assisted asanas). There is also an element of compression massage involved with Ashi-Thai.

Thai massage is different and more. Traditional Thai is performed on a floor mat. Like Ashi-Thai the client is moved through a series of yoga-like asanas except the therapist is now using hands, arms, body, legs and feet to accomplish the stretches and compressions. That’s pretty much where the similarities end. There is a spiritual element of traditional Thai that is best captured by the beginning of a Thai Yoga Massage, called Puja Position. Puja Position allows the therapist to ground and open themselves while the client relaxes thus opening a line of communication. It’s all very esoteric and visceral and somewhat unbelievable until you feel it happen. So traditional Thai is about physical healing (the massage part), spiritual connection (for therapist and client, with each other, but perhaps also with their higher power or the universe in general), and the aesthetic of yoga. It should be beautiful when “performed”.

So what does it buy you? Looser muscles, decompressed joints, better localized blood flow in the areas being worked, relaxation, spiritual rejuvenation, etc. I think every Thai session is different and I think every person walks away with a different experience. It’s sorta like yoga in that respect.

I suppose I could go on and on and on, but that won’t give you any better sense of what I’m talking about so in the spirit of a picture is worth a thousand words I’ve embedded a video for you. I’ve chosen this one because the ladies in the video are two of my lovely Gray Bear sisters who I began my Thai Yoga Bodywork odyssey with. Charlene Gaffney (the therapist) is quite a bit more experienced at Thai Yoga Massage than I am. Stephany Fair (the receiver) is a yoga whiz and Thai practitioner as well. And when you get to the acrobatic part of this video just remember that I said they’re more experienced than I am and that I’m still in kindergarten (so I don’t know how to do nor will I attempt any of that fancy break your head stuff).

So now without further ado…

If you’re interested in reading more about Thai massage, here is what Charlene had to say about it after our class. And here is an article from Massage Magazine on Thai. And my instructor is online at Vedic Conservatory and writes extensively. And then there’s always Google…

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Newest Provider of Thai-Yoga Massage

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Thai Yoga Massage

Entrance to Gray Bear Lodge

So recently I went to a class for Thai-Yoga Bodywork or Thai-Yoga Massage or Thai-Yoga Assisted Asana. I’m still not clear on exactly what it’s called. My certificate calls it Thai-Yoga Bodywork hence the title above. It’s one of those “that which we call a rose” dilemmas. It is what it is.

For me it’s a new method of bodywork, new tools in my arsenal of weapons against physical pain and suffering. And they seem powerful. The good news, I can integrate some of what I learned immediately. The not so good news, some I won’t be able to do until I get a mat for the floor. And the downright tragic news, others I won’t be able to do because we didn’t learn them. Apparently to properly learn Thai-Yoga Bodywork from this organization they need 150 of my hours with which to teach me. Never fear though, plans are being hatched as I write this. This wasn’t the last I’ve seen of this instructor.

The class itself was intense. A Wednesday afternoon through Sunday morning affair at Gray Bear Lodge in Hohenwald, TN. My certificate says 25 hours, but we stayed on-site due to the rustic, out-lying nature of the training center so it was more like an immersion experience where time gets lost.

The instructor was absolutely brilliant. I didn’t understand a portion of what he was saying as I’m pretty sure he was speaking several different languages and I am only proficient in English. Fortunately so was he so I don’t think I missed anything critical though I still have to figure out what molobunda (oh, go ahead and look at the link, it demonstrates just how lost I actually am) means as he seemed to use it quite a lot. I think I missed the explanation as I was desperately scribbling away in my book trying to write down the most egregious gaps in my body of knowledge. Also I think it’s entirely possible to learn this type of massage by experiencing it and watching the demonstrations. Verbal communication certainly hastens the teaching experience, but not strictly necessary, I think. But then again the experience of sitting in a classroom and being completely lost at times is inspiring. I have much to learn.

And then there’s Gray Bear. It’s a place, it’s an experience, it defies. In general, it’s a tract of largely undeveloped land where the owners have built a lodge, several small cabins, a meditation hut, the Yoga Room, a stone hot tub, a dedicated watsu pool, and a sauna. I’m sure there’s more, but that was the extent of my experience with the infrastructure of the place. The experience is one of love, warmth, family, and just being home. At night it’s dark and you can lie by the hot tub and see the stars, really see them like we used to as children before we felt the need to turn the night to day. During the day there are forests to trek, waterfalls to find, nooks and crannies to explore, classes to take and the best darn food you can imagine.

It’s impossible to write just one post to encompass this experience. It would take numerous posts to even begin to touch it and then my skills certainly wouldn’t do it justice. Let’s just say it was one of the most interesting experiences in my life and I’m still mourning it just a little.

The combination of the serenity and beauty of Gray Bear, the open and loving nature of the staff and workshop participants, and Michael Buck, aka, Mukti was something I will be tempted to do again and again.

Enjoy this Picture Gallery from Gray Bear and Thai-Yoga with Mukti – You’ll need a Facebook account to view.

Sharon BryantHarvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Newest Provider of Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage

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