On the 6th of March 2014, six students joined to take a four-day Traditional Thai Massage foundation course on La Palma “La Isla Bonita.” La Palma is an island in the Atlantic Ocean and part of the Canary Islands (Islas Canarias).
An unlikely mix of students assembled — a travel designer (Spain), a holistic healer (Italy), a whale watcher (United Kingdom), an airport fireman (Gran Canaria), a crop-farmer (La Palma), and a biker accessories designer (Germany).
Speaking three languages simultaneously explaining the basics of Thai Yoga Massage was in itself interesting enough, but in addition to that I needed to prepare quite a lot because it was my first course in Spain and in Spanish.
One should think about translating course material from English and French to Spanish (those were the languages I had my materials in), finding the right place in La Palma to print, reproduce, and bind material, setting up a suitable course-schedule, and organizing the course infrastructure.
As for the latter, think of food, mats, location, pillows, blankets and such, that is, the things one needs to accommodate a Thai Massage course.
With regard to the actual study contents of the course, I decided to do things differently this time. For instance, I started every class day with a warm-up session of Reusi Dat Ton aka Thai Traditional Yoga.
That, I think, was a success, not only to efficiently prepare the students on the physical work following, but also to let them better understand the foundations of Thai Massage.
Another thing I tried is letting them take a kind of “exam” the last course-day (like many schools in Thailand do, by the way). I intentionally never did that before in my courses, because I just didn’t want to put unnecessary stress on my students.
And I think I was right about the latter. I didn’t like that “exam” part at all. I feel it creates this funny, solemn atmosphere I’ve already seen too many times in the massage schools in Thailand.
Next time I’ll go the old way: letting them do the full massage sequence they’ve learned, but with continuous support, corrections, and full opportunity to ask questions, thereby avoiding the “test-nerves.” I had good experiences with that before, and for the moment I’ll stick with it.
It was also the first time I played some soft background music (Thai and Tibetan) while teaching. Not too bad, but on the other hand, well, can do without. I don’t feel it really brings a lot extra.
But maybe I do repeat this by launching a track of music occasionally, just to change the dynamics of a class-day a bit and bring in something different. I reckon that’ll be just fine.
Anyway, all in all the students were happy enough with the training course, and me too.
Now of course, we always learn from the courses we give. Not only each student group is different, but when we bring in new stuff we always take a risk.
That’s not a problem though. We need always go other, new directions if we want to improve. If we want to go deeper. There’s no other way. It’s how things work.