By Nikki Arel

Starting any morning with Thai massage is my idea of a perfect day! Jill kicked off Friday in Pasadena with a four hour class giving history and information about Thai massage, or Nuad Bo Rarn, then a demo and then just under two hours for exchange time of the dozen moves she had selected.  Although this was a hands-on class, I had not shipped a table to the west coast and there were a number of other therapists who were also table-less for class.  Her suggestion at the get-go for the room of 100-ish LMTs was to simply observe if they did not have someone to pair with for hands-on.

Her lecture was good, interspersing the history and “dry” information with humor and little tidbits from her journey to instructor that gave the class a nice insight to her.  With almost a hundred eager therapists in the room, her demo was done on the dais beneath a large projection screen where the pictures from her printed material were highlighted.  It was tough to see the table-work she was doing, but her descriptions were good and the class was invited to either tale photos or video of the demo.  Being very familiar with Thai massage, I hung back a little and was looking for little gems as take-aways; maybe a different position for my hands or a different approach to a move on the table.

I liked the moves and techniques that she was demonstrating and had selected for the class.  They were mostly a supine foot/leg focus, with a few nice moves on the upper body and one of the lifts in prone and a finishing move.  There was not an intent to use the work as a stand-alone routine, but rather as an integration into your table work at present, and an appetizer of the work of Thai.

Being that I do not own a table, I opted to practice on the floor and verified with Jill that this was okay.  Having no assistants and over 100 people doing some very different work, she seemed a little overwhelmed, but there were two gentleman in the room who stepped forward to take the role of “TA” for her; they are both LMTs with Thai training and who teach the work in their respective home states.  As we were waiting for everyone to get back from break and onto a table/pair-up, she came to where I was working and asked if she might use my mat to complete a demo of the floorwork.  I was happy to oblige and my partner was pleased to remain there and keep receiving.

My biggest take-away was not a technique or body mechanic, and neither Jill nor the assistants came by to give me feedback.  But a fellow student in the class came over to talk to me.  She, too, had Thai training and was curious about some moves I was playing with during the break. She ended up working in with us for the exchanges and that afternoon and rest of the weekend, she was quick to seek me out and share some time with me and my exchange partner.  That warmth, connection and friendship was a wonderful take-away.  Yes, Jill had given a different way to place the receiver’s hand that might work very well on a table.  And yes, it was GREAT to finally get some hands-on time with a partner.  But the connection with this woman from California, coaching her through the manual moves and a few others, getting to chat about her massage journey and the work she does, and then having a smile and new friend at other sessions and at the dinner dance was a true gem.