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!