Starting from a stable forward fold position, reach for the receiver’s wrists and gently lift them out to each side to help stretch and extend their arms and shoulders.
Maintain a soft but steady grip that avoids uncomfortably squeezing the wrist and possibly stretching or burning their skin.
Exert enough outward force to provide an effective stretch, but not too much to make the receiver uncomfortable. Listen to the receiver’s breathing and gently apply more force while they exhale…then wait while they inhale.
To help the receiver relax (versus fighting the stretch), occasionally swing them side-to-side slightly, then stretch them again. The video clearly shows how this is done.
This is an active pose, so pace your own breathing and effort to avoid getting tired or tense during this element.
The Forward Fold is an ideal position to release tension so
commonly held in the spine.
As you start massaging alongside the spine, you will often see it relax and stretch. As such, this is a very good element to begin any therapeutic session with.
This is the first chest opening element you can offer your receiver and should be practiced gently, as it is an invitation to help awaken their spine.
Start by passing your hands under the arms of the receiver and placing them on their upper back. Adjust your hands to create as much contact area as possible. This avoids putting too much pressure on a single part of the arm or shoulder that could result in pain or discomfort.
Once your hands are positioned, apply a little downward pressure on the receiver’s back while keeping their elbows open. Your legs must stay strong here to provide a little upward counterbalance to the downward force you are applying to the receiver’s back.
Note how the giver joins his hands on the receiver’s back in this video. If you are smaller than your receiver, this can be difficult to do. Don’t worry, you can still apply sufficient pressure with your hands apart.
It's always a good practice to ask your receiver about any injuries they may have before starting a practice. Much of the time, however, they neglect to mention long-standing and persistent problems such as neck pain. When performing this element, therefore, be sure to touch the neck carefully and delicately.
To start, place all your fingertips at the border of the head and neck on the occipital bone. Then make contact with the back of their head using the full length of all your fingers.
Once you feel stable in the forward fold position, start applying light downward pressure on the receiver’s head. Ask them if they are comfortable before exerting more force.
If you feel the receiver getting tense during this, release the pressure gently but quickly. You don't want to cause any unnecessary discomfort or pain during this element.
This is a classic Thai Massage technique.
Use the outside edge of your hands to gently “drum” on the receiver’s back. This percussive action is enhanced by keeping a loose and relaxed hinge between your hands and wrist.
Keep your fingers relaxed and separated. "Chop" is the sound your fingers make when they contact the receiver’s back.
To gain skill and confidence, practice this on your legs…it will help you gauge how much force you can comfortably use on a receiver.
Avoid chopping directly on the spinal vertebrae…aim instead for the fleshy area on both sides of it. If you or your receiver is uncomfortable with chopping for any reason, simply don’t do it.
This technique relaxes the body and helps releases tension, plus helps keep the receiver’s body awake during and at the end of a session.
Similar to “chop chop”, "tap tap" is another awakening and tension-releasing technique. Make it as soft or as intense as your receiver likes.
Keep your hand empty and held in a more cup-like position than chop chop…this helps make the tap smoother and more relaxing.
Once you and the receiver are comfortable and feel stable in forward fold position, move your hands under the receiver’s arms. Place your hands on their back, similar to the Chest Opener.
Instead of joining hands, however, place your hands over the sub-scapular space where the shoulder bones create a cavity. This is where you find the rotators of the arm, so massaging the short powerful muscles here can be very relaxing and pleasurable.
Start gently until you determine how much force the receiver is comfortable with. Move your hands and fingers as if you were kneading bread. Squeeze a bit toward the spine and increase the intensity if the receiver enjoys it.
This element is especially enjoyable for a relaxed receiver, but may feel a little uncomfortable if they are holding tension.
Reaching as high as you can with your hands, softly push in alternately pulses on either side of the receiver. If they respond in a relaxed manner as demonstrated here, they are probably greatly enjoying this. If not, you will exert a lot of effort for little effect, in which case, it's probably better to move on to another element.
Be sure to compensate for the swinging side-to-side movement of the receiver by alternately bracing more with your legs, otherwise they will tend to fall over in the direction you are pushing.
This can be a very relaxing and therapeutic position that offers many different possibilities for working on the back of the receiver.
It can become uncomfortable, however, if the receiver’s skull comes into contact with your knee bones, since this hard connection can be a bit painful. To avoid this, gently push the receiver’s head far enough through your legs so you can then re-close your legs and comfortably cradle their neck instead of their skull.
Note how the giver is moving the receiver’s body and taking her time applying thumb pressure on the back of the receiver.
This can be a very relaxing component of the forward fold element. Although your receiver may have concerns about their hair getting disheveled a bit, chances are they won’t complain about how good this feels.
Be sensitive about this and do it for as long as you and the receiver feel is appropriate.
Massaging the cervical spine can be especially relaxing and
therapeutic. Work gently here since the neck tends to be very sensitive to
If you feel the receiver tensing up instead of relaxing during this massage, simply move on to another element.