Back to basics – Ashi style

Posted by on Nov 30, 2012 in Uncategorized | 4 comments

This year I was fortunate to be an extra body forMary-Claire,  my Ashiatsu instructor’s classes twice; first for Ashi-Thai and second for Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy Basics. The classes had odd numbers of students and I was the extra body to even out the number  so that each student gets to practice their new moves.

You may be envious of my free massages, I know. But trust me, extra bodies do have to put in some effort. The students learn from the receiver’s feedback. If the stroke is too hard, too light, in the wrong places or done just right, it’s the receiver’s duty to point them out. Even though the students are already massage therapists, they are almost always novices to using their feet (I sure was when I learned Ashi). Inevitably, but quite rarely, I would get a few knocks on the head by their uncertain feet, a couple long strokes that fell short, and maybe get stepped on a little. The worst part is, even when the student is excellent and the massage is a joy to receive, I have to stay conscious the whole time and give feed back. No zoning out for me!

However, being a brave extra body  has its perks. After almost four years of practicing Ashi, the moves have become second nature to me. I took all of the Ashi courses, from basics to advanced plus Ashi-Thai, and I like to blend them all. Just like most therapists would do with any styles of massage, I have created my own moves and tricks based on what I learned from each client’s need. So, lying in class and listen to Mary-Claire break down each move was great refresher for me. A couple of times I even wondered, ‘Hey, how did I forget this move!?’  As I provide feedback to the student, I reflect on how I normally perform Ashi. ‘Do I always do it right?’  ‘Does it feel this good when I give an Ashi massage?’ On top of that, to feel the great effects of these basic moves sure reminds me why I fell in love with Ashi in the first place!

I know that most of you have never seen Ashiatsu in action. How could you have? Majority of Ashi work is performed on the receiver’s back so if you’ve received it, you’d be facing down. Well, let me tell you that Ashi is very graceful when the therapist pays attention to the body mechanics. It is very similar to a dance: there’s rhythm, there’s flow, and it is memorizing to watch….well, at least when Mary-Claire is demonstrating! The gracefulness is not just for looks; it is the result of  proper body mechanics which help us therapists save our valuable hands and feet so we can work better, not harder. Again, back to basics!

Hmm, I wonder if I am as graceful when I give an Ashi session?

Anyways, if you’ve been receiving Ashi from me on a regular basis, don’t be surprised to feel a few old but classic moves in our next session. Going back to the basics, it’s good for the receiver, and great for me as well!




  1. YES, Tzu, you are graceful! My husband, Amlan sat and watched you do your magic on my body. He said, ‘she was so graceful, it was like a trance dance, slow and flowing.” He was amazed at your moves. On my end, it felt wonderful! I enjoyed particularly how the strokes could go from my shoulder all the way down to my tippy toes. And how detailed you were with the nuances of my body; you could really get into the form of the muscle with your feet. Really your techniques and methods were amazing, I wish I could have watched. 🙂 Hey, maybe you could put a mirror on the floor that could catch your position up there! 🙂

    • Thank you, Ren’ee! There is a mirror in the room for my clients to check their hair after each massage. I haven’t tried to look at it during a massage; may be too distracting!!

  2. Lovely blog, Tzu, and thanks for the kind words! To anyone who is interested in trying an ashi session but perhaps is uncertain: I have an appointment next week to drive from Cincinnati to Centerville to see Tzu. She’s wonderful and graceful and a joy to be with! 🙂

    • Thank you, Mary-Claire! I learned from the best!

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