Thai seated back pt.1

This new video shows work around the scapula or shoulder blade. For people with constant upper back and neck issues this is a good way to begin the process of opening the chest and having that slumped forward posture start to change. This usually brings some relief from upper back pain albeit temporary. This particular stretch is easy to do while someone is seated on the floor or in a chair so it’s good to use on friends and family at parties.

Opening the rhomboids, trapezius and erector spinae addresses some of the core issues that come from computer work. This chin jutted forward slouch is bad for posture long term.

Thai massage classes including certification are ongoing in the new year. Look for emails and updates here and on facebook/twitter. See you all soon.

Happy New Years everyone. I wish us all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012.

Incremental money

Money is a sticky spot for most people. I know few who don’t have some stress about it in some form and as a full time massage therapist I’ve spent many nights wondering where the rent would come from.

I accrued 5k in credit card debt over the years and it came and went several times. Payed down, built up again and though my practice would grow, bills always seemed a little larger than my income. I’ve never been one to spend extravagantly but when you need groceries and you don’t have that paycheck for two weeks, credit card debt can build up easily when you stack car repairs on top.

Today I payed off my credit cards in full. That 5k in debt has taken me a year to work on incrementally and with good luck it’ll never come back. Compound interest I’ve heard it said is the strongest force in the universe and I believe it. Like gravity it can weigh you down.

Altering and changing ones life in a way that fits your values is important. I’ve resisted the stress of the holidays and instead of buying gifts, I payed off what I owed in the hopes of a year where I can afford gifts without interest payments. Want to help me avoid more debt? Schedule a Thai massage with me or come to my yoga classes, every little bit helps.

Just as your yoga practice will grow as you lengthen your spine, that incremental buildup leads to great things. Your breath expands as your diaphragam strengthens and your focus is more sharp. I’ve always been impressed at how the physical integrates into the emotional and energetic body and in the past week my oldest back pain dissipated to the point where I realized it no longer seemed to be there.

I’ve been working on that since the accident that led me into my current work. Twelve years it’s been a lingering annoyance and pain. It came and went, sometimes better sometimes worse but this is the longest it’s been gone. Lengthen your spine and breath indeed. Incremental is the only way things work.

Thai massage in Austin

Often people ask what Thai massage is? I’m finding more and more that I’ve learned my way into a spot that most don’t understand or find themselves aware of. Thai massage isn’t massage in the same way that swedish and deep tissue is. Thai massage is done clothed on a mat on the ground and resembles passive yoga more than some sensual oiled session most massage therapists provide.

Thai massage has its place within western bodywork at this point and I’ve little doubt that in 30 years time it’ll be as ubiquitous as swedish and deep tissue are. I loathe to think massage therapists are ending their careers far too soon by working ineffectively and abusing their hands. Thai massage helps me make use of my feet, heels, toes and knees in a way that was liberating when I first started using it.

Over the holidays try this Thai neck massage out on friends and family. If their response is, “oh..that’s really tight or that feels really good” you’ll see why Thai massage is spreading. It’s extremely effective and easy to use.

If you’ve never had a Thai massage give yourself a Christmas treat and schedule a session. There’s no reason to continue having back pain. Call to schedule. 512 905 2298

Ma Roller for back pain pt.4

This is the last video in our series on low back pain and we include a deep hamstring stretch. People with low back pain can find huge relief from doing this regularly. Share with your friends and loved ones.

Link to purchase

Happy birthday Guruji

I was doing research the other night and realized BKS Iyengar’s birthday is today. I feel it appropriate to mention one of the teachers who’s most influenced my practice. If anyone lit up a sense of hope in me, hope of not only improving my health but of becoming a whole human being, Iyengar helped sparked my internal fire. Today he is 93 years old.

Soon after my first awakening to how great yoga was I went to the library in search of books. In and amongst the books was a copy of Light on Yoga, the book considered to be the bible of modern yoga. I was amazed at the photos as most are but what really blew my mind was the back of the book. If you have shoulder problems do these asanas, if you have digestive problems do these asanas…etc.

Could it be? Look at the photos! He’s got to know something about the body look at what he’s capable of. Ask your overweight doctor what shoulderstand does.

I knew I’d stumbled onto something huge. 8 years or so later, I’m still at it, breathing, stretching and working on my body one small piece at a time. As I reconnect and experience the great things a yoga practice brings I occasionally find a video like this series. I watched in awe last night, Iyengar makes me look like a novice.

This is part one of a series. If you have the time watch it all. It’s quite the demonstration.

link to the rest

So Iyengar is now 93 years old. The bushy eyebrowed lion of Pune has influenced most of the lineage of hatha yoga due to his intense focus on the alignment in poses. His alignment allows one to do yoga safely and over time deepen into the poses. Using props to help students open their bodies and aid in the process was one of his great influences on the practice as well.

Thank you so much Mr. Iyengar. May your life and teachings continue on. Thank you for providing a crack that lets all the light shine in.

It’s better than this?

A client I worked with recently had low back pain. As usual I had him lay down on the table and performed Thai massage on him. Having never had a massage before the client didn’t know what to expect, he just wanted help with his low back.

As we went along the client commented on how much better it felt already. I explained to him briefly how tight muscles cause pain. If I have him curl a dumbell and hold it for ten minutes he’ll report that his arm hurts. Same thing holds for your back. If muscles contract or stretch and stay that way without relief, pain is the result. If we get them to relax, your nervous system sighs in relief.

He told me he wished he could just stay this way. If he could only figure out how to remain like this he’d be fine. I told him he could, it’s called yoga. He said, “It’s better than this? Are you sure?” I laughed and explained to him that the very same things we’re doing together, he can do on his own. His advantage is that he can push himself right up to his edge, then breathe into it for a better stretch. The other is that he can take it with him wherever he goes. Once he’s learned yoga, he can use it whenever he wants.

He would be a non-traditional student. I’d guess he’s in his 60’s and he’s concerned about his health as he ages. He’s not limber, flexible or young. He’s certainly not a south Austin 25 year old hipster. He is however a perfect candidate for yoga. He’s human and smart enough to listen to how his body feels. His body feels better after Thai massage and his body will respond just as well to yoga. If he’s smart enough to follow his instincts his chocolate just might fall into his peanut butter. Chocolate is Thai massage and yoga is peanut butter, they belong together.

These healing traditions are for everyone. They can allow you to live a life you’ve only imagined.

Older age doesn’t mean decay and suffering, it means older age. No judgements. If you work with your body your physical form is maintained and you can be more healthy and more vibrant than you were at 20. You’ll certainly have more wisdom. He asked me why no one had told him about this Thai massage or yoga before, he’s had back pain for 15 years. I told him no one is sticking a camera in my face to let me tell people.

After finding a copy of Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar he expressed great optimism about aging. Iyengar is in his 90’s and though mostly retired from teaching he has an active practice. My client having a model for old age and living well made him even more optimistic about his life. After all, he’s got another 30 years to explore what he’s just found.

He recounted that he’s borderline diabetic but his blood sugar has stabilized. He’s not changed anything in his diet. When he asks me why I say, “no idea.” I smile and we continue exploring whatever it is we’re both doing that makes us feel so much better. This is the healing path.

Ma Roller for back pain pt.3

This is the 3rd installment in our series of easing back pain with the Ma roller. I know these videos seem simple but this is deep tissue massage you can do at home. A single investment in this tool and a little time will ease lots of tension in muscles related to posture.

If you’re a massage therapist share these videos with your clients.

To purchase

Another massage?

In working as a massage therapist I’ve encountered so many people and so many bodies that I’ve built a mental catalog of structural issues and things that cause musculoskeletal pain. When I began my work years ago I would ask clients questions, “What do you do for work, play, exercise? Where are you experiencing tightness or pain?” I began to dislike the answers I was given. The reason was that after about 500 clients I already knew what the answers were usually. Upper back and neck pain are the most obvious and I dedicated years of my life to studying the problem, working on my own pain from a whiplash and scoliosis.

Ten years later, I know what I’m doing. I still learn new things, new approaches and methods but I’m highly skilled at what I do. I’ve gone beyond just being a massage therapist. If someone tells me I’m just a massage therapist my hackles raise. You’ve not understood my teaching.

If you come to see me for bodywork I’ll do everything I can to help you. This includes the Thai massage you’re receiving but I’ll tell you to start doing yoga. Not if or maybe, I will mention it. It’s rare that I do not. I can have you be a regular client and help you, we can give you another massage. Bodywork is wonderful but active and passive forms of care are best and work together.

So here’s the deal. Do you want another massage or do you want to get better? If you want to heal, the best way to do that is take what I offer and work on your own healing. That is what I teach. It’s you. You can heal yourself. I’ve done it, continue to do it and best of all I can eat whatever I want. No worries or anxiety about food. My body hurts less, my joints improve, I dare say I’m mostly mentally stable and honestly yoga has helped me be one of the sanest people I know.

It’s not just me. Yoga is a tool. Use it. Bodywork and Thai massage are as well, use them. I teach and offer them both. I can give you the map, but you my friend must follow the path.

I’ll see you soon for your Thai massage and yoga class here in Austin and Round Rock.

Ma Roller for back pain pt.2

Here’s the second video in our series using the Ma roller. We begin working on the upper back and into the cervical spine. Keep in mind that I prefer you become comfortable using the roller on the lumbar spine first, then moving your way up. Share this with anyone who has back pain. It’s simple but extremely effective.

Link to purchase