Massage & Bodywork

March/April 2013

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classroom to client Sample Methods from Thai Massage Torso Lift Position your body on one side of the client by her anterior superior iliac spine. Place your hands on both sides of the client just below her ribs and lift with both hands, bringing the client's low back off the floor. Hold this position for a breath and repeat the lift two to three times. Diagonal Back Stretch Place one hand on the client's scapula and the other on the posterior superior iliac spine on the opposite side of the back. Press down with both hands so the back is elongated. Repeat the stretch on the other side of the client. Shiatsu As a bodywork form composed of the Japanese words shi meaning "finger" and atsu meaning "pressure," finger pressure is the primary technique used in shiatsu, but the palms, hands, elbows, knees, and even the feet might also be used to deliver pressure to body areas, and stretches are used to loosen joints. Shiatsu aims to promote the uninterrupted flow of qi through the channels, often called meridians, by manipulation of acupoints to improve health and wellness. Shiatsu practitioners often refer to the term hara, which means abdominal region or belly. The practitioner's hara is the source of his or her qi and brings strength and purpose to the session. All of the therapist's movements and power originate from the hara and protect the therapist's body from overexertion. Working from the hara is a concept unique to shiatsu and refers to the use of the practitioner's own qi to stabilize the qi of the client. Hara also describes a person's ability to achieve goals and actualize ideas. If someone works hard to accomplish a particular task, he or she is said to have good hara. People with good hara are not intimidated by setbacks and instead persist, even when circumstances are difficult. Aligning energy in the hara helps to harmonize the body, mind, emotions, and spirit of the practitioner so he or she can deliver the best possible treatment for the client. During a shiatsu session, the client reclines on a mat placed on the floor and the practitioner uses a kneeling or squatting stance to apply techniques. (See Sample Methods from Shiatsu, page 103.) Thai Massage Thai massage places an emphasis on the concept of vata, or wind, in the body and believes that when wind is out of balance, disease is likely to take root or develop from mild symptoms into a serious condition. Life force energy (Thai massage uses the term prana from ayurveda) travels on pathways called sen, which are closely related to the meridian system of Chinese medicine. There are 10 primary sen pathways that connect the abdominal region, where wind is held in the lower abdominal cavity, to the rest of the body. Thai massage is applied to a fully clothed client without massage lubricant. During the session, the client reclines on a mat while the practitioner applies techniques slowly with mindfulness. (See Sample Methods from Thai Massage, at left.) There is much to learn about ABT and its complex systems, but this knowledge will eventually enhance your client sessions and ultimately put more tools in your massage and bodywork repertoire. Anne Williams is the director of education for Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals and author of Massage Mastery: from Student to Professional (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012) and Spa Bodywork: A Guide for Massage Therapists (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006). She can be reached at The American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia offers more information at See what benefits await you. 105

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