I want to start this post with a HUGE thank you. For the past three months, a lot of my time, energy, and brain space has been dominated by massage school. It’s sometimes grueling, and there were times when keeping up with my job, school, my yoga teaching and my personal life were already too much to take on, and I wondered why I even try to keep up with blogging and felt like I was losing my blogging mojo. But I received the sweetest comments and emails from readers, which never fails to remind me how much I get out of it. And even those of you who haven’t left comments or sent emails, I know you’re out there, and I so appreciate all of you who take a few minutes of your day to read the gf-gf. So, really, thank you.
Today is a momentous day – I’m in an intensive, 7-month-long program for massage therapy, and today marks the halfway point. The last day of my first term of massage school. My last finals were actually yesterday, but today we have our last lecture of the term on HIV/AIDS, which is required for licensing in Washington state (as is CPR/first aid).
These first few months of school have flown by – but at the same time, it’s been a long journey. I’ve learned 73 muscles, six body systems, countless massage strokes, one song, and a lot about myself and my own body. For instance, I have a chronic knot on my left shoulder that I thought was related to my shoulder blade – it’s actually related to my neck.
My classmate models my handiwork – the forearm flexors.
… That’s the short version. If you’re just here for the food, feel free to close this page and move on – come back Friday for a new recipe.
For those of you who want the long version, here it is …
My school is a private massage school in my neighborhood and is very small. The curriculum is very science-heavy, and is really focused on therapeutic massage. That means that in addition to massage, I’m learning kinesiology and anatomy, and next term, we’ll also have a clinical massage class and learn massage for specific conditions. I’ll also take a business class as required by Washington state law.
But in this first half, I had Massage Theory and Practice two nights per week. We started off with some basics (the history of massage) and moved on to the different Swedish massage strokes and then deep tissue massage, we’ve talked about some of the more energetic effects of massage and how to manipulate those, and spent a lot of time talking about how to interview clients and thorough charting. Most of the work outside of class was actually putting my hands on people – I had to give 10 hours (I gave 12+, I’m an overachiever) and receive 5 hours of massage.
My other classes, kinesiology and anatomy met twice a week on the same night, so on Tuesday and Thursday nights, I had two hours of kines, a short dinner break, and two hours of anatomy. It made for long, late nights, but I actually really loved both classes. One of my driving motivators in deciding to go to massage school was that I wanted to learn more about the body, and I got what I wanted.
In kinesiology, we learned 73 muscles – their attachments, actions, and a little about why some particular muscles tend to be out of whack in almost everyone we’ll work on. It’s a difficult class, and required a lot of memorization, but it came fairly easily to me. Also, as I hoped it would, it completely changed my understanding of certain yoga postures!
And anatomy turned out to be my favorite class. After slogging through an overview of biology and chemistry and an overview of disease prevention (in a word – handwashing), we learned about the skin, muscles, skeletal system, the nervous system (including the brain, spinal cord, and sensory organs), and finally the endocrine system. We also talked about pathologies for diseases under each category and how they can be affected by massage. It was a lot of information, and mostly conceptual information, but like I said, my favorite class. Bodies are so cool.
I feel like I’m where I should be in my learning at this point, but I want more. I’ve learned enough that I can give a relaxing, integrative full body massage, but not much specific work. It’s a frustrating place because when I’m practicing, people will tell me they have a knot in a particular part of their bodies – I can make them feel better and bring relief, but I don’t know yet how to make it disappear. But I know there’s more to come, and I’ll just keep learning more tricks and tools.
And I’m so happy with my choice in massage schools. Mine is much smaller than other schools in the area, and I get more individual attention and hands-on time. Their curriculum also includes two or three tests a week in my various classes – a daunting task at first, but I’ve become a very good test taker, and know that will come in handy when I go to take my licensing exam in the spring.
Next term promises new challenges, but for now, I’m glad to have a breather. To catch up on my sleep and enjoy the holiday season. And reestablish my blogging mojo!