1. Be Brave. When I was a kid in Minneapolis it was actually kind of bold to be a skateboarder, especially being a girl. When I first started skating I was self conscious about it. My skill level wasn't that good and skating is loud and brash. If I had listened to my doubts I would have never gotten off my own block, but Instead I traveled by board and bus all over the city. Sometimes I would skate in a skirt just for the reaction. Ashiatsu for me is like skating was back then, different than the mainstream, but in an awesome way. I can feel shy sometimes about trying out new moves, but mostly I'm just glad I can do this cool, awesome thing.
2. Bend your knees. Skateboarding is all about balance. You can take someone super strong or smart and they could suck at skating. However, if a person can maintain their center of gravity, while standing on a moving, wobbly object they're good to go. Ashiatsu is like skating in that it's dynamic and the terrain is always changing. Being nimble and flexible is the name of the game, so bend your knees and roll with whatever your client is giving you.
3. Do more of what's fun. Skateboarding is hard work. It's not easy to balance, while maintaining speed and Ollie-ing (jumping) over obstacles, but it's a whole lot more fun than walking. It's the same with Ashiatsu massage. It's hard work and your whole body is being utilized to make the magic happen, but it feels good and it's so amazing what is possible with Ashiatsu! I have fun when I work or I wouldn't do it. Favorite quote from a client after getting a massage, "That was wicked."
4. Use your intuition and creativity. With skateboarding each person has their own way of doing things. Well-known skaters are identified by their original style. Some play fast and loose, while others have textbook form, and most of the best have signature moves that they're recognized for. The same is true of massage therapists (and their clients!), no two are the same. I have learned to trust my intuition and use my creativity to give the best massage I can, to that client, on that day.
5. Give It Your All to Get the Best Result. With skateboarding it's so much better to be all in. If you're not confidant you won't maintain momentum. Then you'll hit a bump, your board will stop and you will stumble. With Ashiatsu it's no different. The client's body is your terrain and it's knots and muscles are the bumps and curves that guide you. If I get a client who is one big band of tightness, with no differentiated muscle groups, I have to confidently dig in and go deep, moving by memory over where I know those separate muscles should be. If I know they need my more advanced or creative moves I go ahead, because if I don't, I'm not giving my client everything I have. With Ashiatsu, as with skating, I'm all in.
6. Practice Makes Perfect. Just as I was a little awkward at skating to begin with, so was I with Ashiatsu. But now I'm a pro at both. Well, I'm much better at Ashi. And I'm always learning new things the more I practice. That smooth, seamless massage is no accident. Interesting side note, the more I work on an individual client, the more I become a pro at massaging THEM. I learn their specific needs and become an expert at what works best for them. Just like skaters know all of the cracks and grooves of their own neighborhood park, I learn my client's muscles like the back of my foot.
A call out to all of the skaters, snowboarders and surfers too, I encourage you to study Ashuatsu massage!
And those of you who haven't tried this kind of massage I encourage you to try it!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!