July 31, 2012
What is it?
“Mindfulness meditation is not about achieving bliss or tranquility,” explains Sharon Salzberg, co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society (dharma.org) in Barre, Mass., and author of Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (Shambhala). “Rather, its aim is to see things as they really are more clearly.”
What’s it good for?
Mindfulness meditation is a form of “mind training,” says Salzberg. Bringing direct awareness to drinking a cup of tea, for instance, means that you really feel the warmth of the cup in your hands, and really taste the sweetness or the bitterness in your mouth. This applies to our emotional states, too—observe with awareness and perceive more accurately what your experience really is.
How long does it take?
Start with five minutes daily. Gradually add a few minutes to your session each day until you can sit for 20 minutes.
How do I do it?
1. Sit in a comfortable position on a pillow, chair, couch or floor.
2. Listen to the sounds around you while you relax. Practice letting the sounds come and go without holding on to them or pushing them away.
3. As you inhale, think “in”; as you exhale, think “out.” Let this action be a kind of home base.
4. When your mind drifts and thoughts start to wander, pay attention to what comes up. You may be aware of a pain in your shoulder, for instance, or think of an argument from the night before. Acknowledge this thought or feeling, spend a moment with it and then bring your awareness gently back to your home base. Rather than rushing past the new sensations you experience, bring your full awareness to them.
5. If you find yourself getting stuck in an emotion or sensation, it may help to put a mental label on it, to identify it as “anger” or “pain.” Then bring your awareness back to your breath.
6. The traditional way to end this meditation is to acknowledge the positive energy you’ve created and to dedicate it to others. Try saying: “May the merit of this practice be dedicated to all beings everywhere.” Stand, and continue to practice mindfulness as much as you can throughout the day.
July 30, 2012
It’s a fact. Every year, more and more people rely on therapeutic massage and bodywork for relaxation, pain relief, health concerns, rehabilitation and general wellness.
- Massage may be the oldest form of medical care – Egyptian tomb paintings show people being massaged.*
- A Chinese book written in 2,700 BC – The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine – recommended the “massage of skin and flesh”.*
- Today, 39 million American adults – more than one out of every six – get at least one massage each year.**
- Massage therapy has been proven effective in:
Relieving back pain
Boosting immune system
Lowering blood pressure
Decreasing carpal tunnel symptoms
Easing post-operative pain
Alleviating side effects of cancer**
- Because massage and bodywork directly or indirectly affects every system of the body, it promotes health, prevents illness and injury, and speeds recovery.
July 27, 2012
July 26, 2012
In this last installment of My Aching Back! we will discuss the remaining two myths to causing back pain. You can find the first segment and second segment on our blog.
MYTH #5 Alternative treatments don’t work
FACT Nearly one in six Americans has tried some form of alternative therapy to ease an aching back , according to the National Institutes of Health. And for good reason: Studies suggest these treatments may be more effective than conventional physical therapy and medications  in some cases. In fact, in a recent German study, half of the lower back patients who received two weekly acupuncture sessions over six months reported a significant reduction in pain . The needles may stimulate the release of pain-relieving brain chemicals, say experts. Find a licensed practitioner from the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Research also shows that seeing a chiropractor may help you feel better faster. These practitioners believe back pain is caused by dislocations in the vertebrae. During an “adjustment,” gentle force is applied to your spine to stretch your joints and realign them. To find a licensed chiropractor near you, consult the American Chiropractic Association.
MYTH #6 A superfirm mattress is best for your back
FACT Actually, it might be the source of your pain. Trying to find a back-friendly bed is like playing Goldilocks: A too-soft mattress doesn’t offer enough support, while a rock-hard one can increase pressure on the spine . A study in the journal Lancet found that those who snoozed on a medium-firm mattress experienced less back pain—and popped fewer pain relievers —than those who slept  on a harder one. Can’t afford a brand-new bed? Consider buying a pad such as those from Therapedic (from $30; bedbathbeyond.com) to cushion an extra-firm mattress. If your bed is too soft, place a bed board, like one by Duro-Med ($35; drugstore.com), beneath the mattress to prevent it from sagging.
Source: SHAPE Magazine
July 25, 2012
Create an at-home spa
If you don’t want to splurge on a spa treatment, turn your bathroom into a sanctuary and indulge at home. Light a scented candle. Breathe in the aroma and feel the stress drift away. Use a body scrub and loofah to exfoliate from head to toe. Get happy feet by soaking them in a tub and using a pumice stone to smooth rough patches and boost circulation.
Take a bath
Treat yourself to one long, luxurious bath a week. If you view your tub as nothing more than a place to get clean, you’re missing out on a world of pampering possibilities. Take the phone off the hook, hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign (make one if you have to) on the door and give yourself a seriously relaxing soak. For a true spa experience, add some bubble bath, attach a bath pillow onto the back of the tub to support your head and neck and feel the tension melt away.
Use your head
Nothing releases pent-up tension like a good scalp massage. Turn yours into a hair and scalp treatment by adding conditioning hair oil: Warm a cup of the oil in the microwave for no more than 20 seconds (test it first with the very tip of your finger to make sure it’s not too hot), then massage onto a dry scalp for up to 10 minutes. After using a wide-tooth comb to distribute the oil from the scalp to the ends of your hair, wrap your head in a warm towel for at least 10 minutes (you can heat the towel in the microwave for up to a minute). Tip: When it’s time to rinse, apply shampoo and work into a lather; then rinse. (Wetting the hair first makes oil harder to wash out.) Shampoo again to remove any remaining greasiness.
It’s hard to feel fresh faced when you look like something the cat dragged in. Dull skin emphasizes lines and wrinkles and makes you look tired. But when there’s no time or money for a professional peel or microdermabrasion, at-home masks or peels can help bring back that inner glow.
Tags: affordable massage, At Voorhees Town Center, benefits of massage, DIY At Home Spa, DIY Massage, DIY Spa, DIY Spa at Home, healing arts, Human Interest, massage therapy, Rizzieri School for the Healing Arts, Voorhees Town Center —
July 24, 2012
Basic Breath Meditation
What is it?
The cornerstone of all meditation techniques, this practice centers on something we always do but rarely notice: breathing. “You do not have to do anything with your breath but observe it,” says yoga and meditation teacher Rosen. Eventually, you can work on changing your breath, and sending it into new areas of your torso. But at first, just become aware of each inhalation and exhalation; let your mind track how the breath moves, mapping where it goes to develop an understanding of your own unique “breathing identity.”
What’s it good for?
Use this meditation to get centered anytime and anywhere. “You can retreat into your breath whenever you’re feeling dull, tired or stressed out,” says Rosen.
How long does it take?
Start with 10 minutes at first, then work your way up to 15 and finally 20 minutes.
How do I do it?
1. Sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed. Or lie on your back with your body straight and a firm pillow or rolled-up towel under your knees. Your arms should rest about 45 degrees from your torso.
2. Breathe quietly in and out through your nose. Feel each breath as it moves through your torso. Feel where in your body the breath is moving and where it is not.
3. Begin to notice how your breath changes as you focus on it, and how your awareness changes in turn. (Rosen likens this process to a feedback loop between the breath and “the witness,” who’s observing it.)
4. When your mind begins to drift, gently bring it back to your breath.
5. Begin to bring your breath into areas of your body that feel dull or “un-breathed.” Imagine your torso as a container, and try actively sending breath into the places it’s not reaching, such as your pelvis or the small of your back. Don’t force the breath, just allow it to follow your consciousness.
6. At the end of your session, wiggle your fingers and toes, then stretch your legs and arms. If you’re lying down, roll over to one side and pause before pushing up to a seated position. Roll up slowly, leading with your torso and raising your head last.
July 23, 2012
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Leaves skin feeling soft, supple and conditioned.
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After shower or bath–apply a few drops of Calming Composition™ to damp skin to seal in moisture.
Add to running water for a soothing bath.
Use for a calming scalp and body massage.
July 20, 2012
July 19, 2012
Last week, we briefly discussed two myths to the causes of an aching back. This week we continue with two more.
MYTH #3 Most exercise is hard on your back
FACT Researchers from Samsung Medical Center in Korea found that working out at least three times a week actually reduced the risk for developing chronic back pain by 43 percent. Exercise strengthens your back muscles and increases blood flow to the disks, helping them withstand daily strain. Hitting the gym  regularly also keeps your waistline in check, which has a huge payoff for your back: A study in the journal Spine revealed that overweight people were nearly three times as likely to go to the hospital with a back injury than those at a healthy weight. Even as little as 5 or 10 extra pounds can put stress on your spine, increasing your risk of injury. Opt for low-impact aerobic exercise , such as walking, swimming , or using the elliptical machine , to strengthen your back without putting excess pressure on your disks or joints.
Still, it’s important not to do too much. Overexerting yourself—by lifting too-heavy weights or stretching past the point of comfort—is a surefire way to injure your back. To protect yourself while working out: Warm up with at least 15 minutes of light cardio to increase blood flow to back muscles. Next, observe your form in the mirror when lifting weights. Your back should always be straight, whether you’re working your biceps or your legs. Finally, avoid overstretching or bouncing ; those movements jar the spine and muscles.
MYTH #4 Back pain is always caused by an injury
FACT Between juggling a huge work deadline and planning your sister’s bridal shower, taking a time-out may seem like a luxury. But when it comes to caring for your back, it’s essential. According to a study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, women who feel overwhelmed at home or work are more than twice as likely as their calmer counterparts to have lowerback pain. “Mental stress  causes the smallest units of the muscle, the fibers, to tighten,” says Ulf Lundberg, Ph.D., a professor of biological psychology at Sweden’s Stockholm University. Over time, clenched muscle fibers wear down, upping the risk for injury. And to make matters worse, your body’s natural response—an increase in muscle tension—can aggravate existing back problems.
So the next time you feel the pressure rising, make a point to work at least half an hour of relaxation  into your day no matter how frenzied you feel. A hot bath or shower is one of the best ways to decompress, because heat can relax your back muscle fibers. To boost the benefits even more, use lavender-scented bath beads or soap: In a Japanese study, people who sniffed the calming scent had lower levels of the stress hormone  cortisol. Your back already in knots? Get a massage . Find a massage therapist near you through the American Massage Therapy Association.
Source: SHAPE Magazine
July 18, 2012
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Ease tight leg muscles
Sit on the floor with legs extended. With hands in fists, press knuckles into tops of thighs and slowly push them toward knees. Keep pressing down as you return to start position and repeat. Continue, changing your direction and pressure to focus on sore spots, for one minute.
Soothe sore forearms
Make a fist with left hand, elbow bent and palm facing up. Wrap right hand around left forearm, thumb on top. Rotate left forearm so that palm faces the floor, then turn it back up. Continue for 30 seconds, moving right hand around to focus on tender areas. Repeat on opposite arm.
Work out back kinks
Sit on a chair with knees bent, feet fl at on the floor, and bend forward at the hips. Bend arms behind you, palms facing away from you, and make fists. Knead circles into your lower back on either side of your spine. Continue, working your way up, for a minute or more.
Relieve foot pain
Sit on a chair with feet on the floor and place a golf ball (or a tennis ball, if that’s all you have ) under ball of left foot. Slowly move foot forward and back for 30 seconds, then in circles for 30 seconds, pressing harder on the ball when you feel a tight spot. Repeat on right foot.
Source: SHAPE Magazine
Tags: affordable massage, At Home Massage, At Voorhees Town Center, benefits of massage, DIY Massage, healing arts, Human Interest, massage at home, massage for back, massage for feet, massage south jersey, massage therapy, massages for forearms, Rizzieri School for the Healing Arts, Voorhees Town Center —