August 31, 2012
August 30, 2012
To continue yesterday’s post – another method to help you sleep is that of the Ayurvedic.
Like traditional Chinese medicine, this 5,000-year-old Indian medical tradition treats illnesses and other conditions by working to create balance among three life forces, known in Ayurveda as doshas. Vata dosha, made up of air and ether, governs creativity and bodily processes; fiery pitta rules digestion and transformation; and earthy kapha governs stability and matter. Insomnia is largely seen as a vata imbalance (though pitta also often plays a role). “Vata governs all movement in the body, including the nervous system,” explains Claudia Welch, D.O.M., a faculty member at the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, N.M., and the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Mass. Because by nature it is light, mobile, cool, rough and unbounded—like the wind—vata is the most easily unbalanced dosha, she explains. Overworking, multitasking, surfing the Web and watching the news all upset vata, which in turn upsets body and mind. The best way to rebalance vata is to introduce the opposite qualities: heaviness, stability, warmth, oiliness and structure. Here are Welch’s ideas for a suitable nighttime routine:
Drink warm milk. “Warm whole, preferably nonhomogenized milk with a pinch of nutmeg can have a calming effect,” Welch says.
Find an herbal formula. One classic herb for calming vata is ashwagandha. “It’s a great choice when you are overworked, your body is tired and your mind feels fried,” Welch says. Try taking 500 milligrams of the herb twice daily, or look for a formula that combines ashwagandha with other stress-reducing herbs. For more immediate relief, look for a formula that combines ashwagandha with sedative herbs, such as bhringaraj, valerian, passionflower, chamomile and nutmeg.
Massage your soles and scalp. Welch recommends using warmed bhringaraj oil or a vata-specific blend such as Sarada Ayurvedic Remedies’ Vata Herbal Oil ($13.50 for 4 ounces at saradausa .com), which contains 80 herbs.
Strike a yoga pose. Performing Sun Salutations upon waking can help you get in sync with nature’s day/night cycle. “When you do these early in the morning, you’re telling your body it’s time to wake up,” Welch explains.
Try alternate-nostril breathing. Do this before bedtime, or when you wake during the night. Here’s how: Exhale fully through both nostrils. Fold your index and middle fingers toward your palm. Block your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale deeply through your left nostril. Then close your left nostril with your pinky and exhale through your right nostril. Next, inhale through your right nostril, block it with your thumb and exhale through your left nostril. Continue this pattern and finish by exhaling through your left nostril.
Tags: affordable massage, At Voorhees Town Center, ayurveda for insomnia, benefits of massage, DIY Massage, healing arts, Human Interest, Insomnia, massage school, massage therapy, massage therapy program, Rizzieri School for the Healing Arts, Voorhees Town Center —
August 29, 2012
Are you reading this—or doing anything else besides sleeping—in the middle of the night? If so, you have plenty of company out there. One in 10 Americans suffer from chronic insomnia, and chances are good that most of them, including you, have already read plenty of advice about how to deal with the problem. You know to lay off the caffeine and alcohol before bed. You reserve your (dark, cool) bedroom for sleep and sex. You avoid scary movies and news shows in the evening. You schedule your exercise at least four hours before bedtime. You’ve tried everything from lavender sachets to chamomile tea to prescription sleeping pills. So why are you still struggling to get the rest you need? It may be that you need to approach the problem in a whole new way. Here’s how two ancient medical traditions can help you identify the underlying source of your insomnia and address it in a more holistic manner.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)
In TCM, any sleep disturbance is seen as a disorder of the heart, says North Carolina-based Randine Lewis, Ph.D., L.Ac. “We’re not just talking about the anatomical beating heart,” she says. “Our spirit makes its home in the heart. If it can’t find rest there, it will agitate the mind.” What affects the spirit affects the body instantaneously, Lewis explains, so it pays to examine your life for symptoms of emotional or spiritual unrest. These are unique to each person but likely to fall into one of three patterns:
KIDNEY YIN DEFICIENCY In TCM, “the kidneys are associated with survival, and they represent our life’s purpose,” Lewis explains. “If we are not living in alignment with our own true purpose, we can’t get grounded and will never find rest.” When you’re not rooted in kidney yin (the soothing watery force that offsets the heart’s fire), you feel fearful or anxious and may lie awake worrying.
INADEQUATE NOURISHMENT FOR THE HEART “The blood carries messages to the heart,” Lewis says. “If you’re living in an imbalanced way in which your spirit is not honored and nourished, there can be restlessness and incessant chatter in your mind that keeps you awake at night.”
LIVER CHI STAGNATION This refers to both the actual organ and the metaphorical one, which helps us process and assimilate all that comes our way. “The liver governs our ability to accept life,” Lewis explains. “If we are resisting what is, we’re frustrated and angry.” If you’re up at night replaying a fight with your husband or ruminating about office conflicts, liver chi stagnation might be your problem. Regardless of the source of your insomnia, a heart-soothing nighttime routine is essential. Lewis recommends this routine:
Soak your feet. Fill a tub ankle deep with warm water and immerse your feet for 10 minutes. “The evening foot soak dilates the vessels in the lower extremities, which draws energy away from the head,” says Lewis.
Visualize. While you’re soaking, try this simple visualization-based meditation. “Imagine that all your thoughts are gathering at the center of your forehead,” Lewis advises. “Then visualize them dropping down, as in a waterfall, to the pool of the heart. Let the water wash your thoughts away and simply allow everything to be as it is. Nothing is resisted, nothing is denied.”
Get out your journal. Using your non-dominant hand, write down your feelings. Don’t try to organize your thoughts, analyze them or aim for an epiphany—just let them flow. “If you have unresolved issues, this will help you get into that part of your brain that’s holding on to hurts,” Lewis says.
Do acupressure. Resting comfortably, close your eyes, breathe deeply and massage your temples in a circular motion as you relax your jaw. “This draws your focus and energy away from the external world,” Lewis explains. Next, find your Anmian (translation: peaceful sleep) points: Midway between the indentations behind your earlobes you’ll find another indentation at the base of the skull—massage them gently for three to five minutes. “This will activate the chemicals that produce sleep,” Lewis says.
Let sleep happen. “There is no trying in falling asleep,” Lewis notes. “Chinese medicine arises from the Taoist concept of nonresistance.” Relax, and allow sleep to come and find you.
Try herbs. You can see a practitioner to get a formula tailored just for you or try one of these combinations (find each at maxnature.com):
ANMIAN PIAN These “calm sleep tablets” are the best place to start if you’re not sure about what’s keeping you up or if you have an undernourished heart.
TIAN WANG BU XIN DAN This is the best choice for treating kidney yin deficiency.
SUAN ZAO REN PIAN (aka Ziziphus formula) is the best choice for liver-related insomnia.
Tags: affordable massage, At Voorhees Town Center, benefits of massage, healing arts, Human Interest, Massage, massage for sleep, massage school, massage therapy, massage therapy program, Rizzieri School for the Healing Arts, sleep, Voorhees Town Center —
August 28, 2012
In this relaxing ritual, you’ll gather stones to stimulate the body’s seven main energy centers, or chakras, in the Ayurvedic tradition. While many massage therapists use large stones to massage out tension in muscles, simply placing stones at strategic points on the body can encourage relaxation.
On a sunny day, take a stroll along the beach to gather seven dark-colored, smooth, round stones, preferably 1 or 2 inches in diameter. Set them down in a sunny spot and allow them to warm up for 10 to 15 minutes. When you’re ready, lie flat on your back and place a stone on each of the seven chakras , one by one. Let your body relax and sink into the ground; feel the weight of each stone and the sensation it creates on your skin. Visualize energy radiating from each chakra through your body, from the top of your head through your toes. Relax for about 20 minutes, and then remove the stones.
Source: Whole Living Body+Soul, Volume 11 July/August 2006
August 27, 2012
Massage therapy has a beneficial effect on the immune system, according to new research—and “there are sustained cumulative biologic actions for the massage and touch interventions that persist for several days or a week, and these differ profoundly depending on the dosage (frequency) of sessions,” investigators noted.
This study gathered preliminary data about the biologic effects of repeated Swedish massage therapy compared to a light-touch control condition on healthy, young adults, according to an abstract published on www.pubmed.gov.
“The study design was a five-week comparison of repeated Swedish massage and light touch on oxytocin (OT), arginine-vasopressin (AVP), adrenal corticotropin hormone (ACTH), cortisol (CORT), circulating phenotypic lymphocyte markers, and mitogen-stimulated cytokine function,” the press release noted. “The study comprised 45 minutes of Swedish massage or light touch, using highly specified and identical protocols, either weekly or twice weekly for five weeks.”
Among the results, according to the abstract:
• “Compared to the touch control condition, weekly Swedish massage stimulated a sustained pattern of increased circulating phenotypic lymphocyte markers and decreased mitogen-stimulated cytokine production, similar to what was previously reported for a single massage session, while having minimal effect on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function.”
• “Twice-weekly massage produced a different response pattern with increased OT levels, decreased AVP, and decreased CORT but little effect on circulating lymphocyte phenotypic markers and a slight increase in mitogen-stimulated interferon-?, tumor necrosis factor-?, interleukin (IL)-1b and IL-2 levels, suggesting increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.”
The research was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Therapies, published by Mary Ann Liebert Inc. Publishers.
August 24, 2012
August 23, 2012
Tags: affordable massage, At Voorhees Town Center, benefits of massage, healing arts, Human Interest, massage school, massage schools new jersey, massage schools Philadelphia, massage therapy, massage therapy careers, massage therapy jobs, olympics massage therapy, Rizzieri School for the Healing Arts, Voorhees Town Center —
August 22, 2012
Need a massage in less than five minutes? Ok, how about four? Always keeping our time constraints in mind, Massage.com’s Shaun Benzies offers relaxation technique exercises perfect for that office self-face massage.
Relax! “Forget the oil. All you need is your own touch and to monitor your breathing. Every self-massage technique should start with a few deep breathes. Breathe in through your nose, hold and then exhale through your mouth,” Benzies states.
Warm Up: Rub your hands together and have the friction generate some heat. Place the palms of your hands on your face, fingers up. Feel the warmth from your hands as you take a few more deep breathes. Move your fingers up to the middle of your forehead so they interlock in the center. Slowly trace each hand down your jaw line to meet in the middle of your chin. Repeat two to three times,” Benzies adds.
Jaw Tension:“An amazing amount of tension builds up within the jaw during a work day, so to relieve this tension, start by slacking your jaw, letting the bottom jaw hang loose. Perform small circles using your index and middle fingers, starting at the joint and working towards your chin. Repeat a few times. Hold your lower jaw in both hands (palms under your chin, fingers at the joint) and pull slightly forward to reduce the pressure on the joint. Hold for 30 seconds,” Benzies suggests.
Sinus Pressure:“Air-conditioned offices often cause a person to feel ‘stuffed up’, so relieving sinus pressure should be part of any self-facial massage. Place both index fingers above the bridge of your nose and one thumb on each side of your nostrils. Perform short strokes with your thumbs along your cheek bones away from your nose to relieve any sinus pressure.”
Between the Eyes & Temples:“Massaging the area right between the eyes is thought to affect the body’s natural circadian rhythms (sleep cycle), so pinch this area for about 30 seconds with mild pressure, breathing deeply throughout. Do the same thing for your temples. Apply minimal pressure and simply hold these points. You will quickly feel why pressure applied here is often used to treat headaches.”
Courtesy of Shecky’s DIY Massages You Can Do At Your Desk. Image Credit: thehairstyler.com
August 21, 2012
What is it?
This component of numerous meditation traditions slows the walking process with the intention of bringing into awareness its most basic parts—lifting the foot, swinging it, placing it down—in order to bring a greater consciousness to daily life. When we break down the motion of walking, we realize how each action is a collection of sub-actions, and how the mind and body work together to create movement. “This is not walking for transportation, it’s walking as a tool for developing mindfulness in the present moment,” says John LeMunyon, L.M.T., co-owner of Heartwood Yoga in Birmingham, Ala., and a meditator for 30-plus years. You can practice walking meditation by itself, or combine it with one of the seated styles on the preceding pages. Used as an interlude, the walking technique is a good way to embody the insights gained during seated practice and to heighten their relevance in your daily life. Walking meditation shows clearly the Buddhist precept that “all action is preceded by intention,” says LeMunyon. “There’s always an intention; and when we are present to the moment, there is always a choice. It’s at the level of intention that we make our choices of how skillfully we want to live our lives.”
What’s it good for?
When you find yourself feeling restless or agitated, a physical practice like walking is a great way to quiet your mind and find grounding in your body. It can also help ease your transition from sitting meditation to the motion of “real life,” and vice versa.
How long does it take?
To begin, try walking for about 15 steps in two directions, about five minutes total. Or try interspersing this with five minutes of seated meditation.
How do I do it?
1. Find a private indoor or outdoor place with level ground and at least 20 feet of space to move.
2. Stand in a relaxed position with your feet parallel, shoulders loose, arms draped at your sides or clasped lightly in front of or behind you. Focus your eyes softly on the ground about 6 to 8 feet ahead (looking right at your feet can be distracting).
3. Breathe in as you lift your right heel. Pause and breathe out, leaving your toes resting on the ground.
4. Breathe in again as you slowly swing your right foot forward. Place the heel of your right foot on the ground as you exhale and roll the rest of the foot down, transferring your weight so it’s balanced between both feet. Pause for a full breath.
5. Repeat the entire sequence with your left foot, again matching each movement with an inhalation or exhalation, alternating for 15 steps. The goal is to keep your mind fully focused on your bodily sensations; it may help to think or softly say, “Lift, pause, swing, place, transfer, pause,” as you perform these movements.
6. When you’ve completed your paces in one direction, come to a stop with your feet parallel and pause for a few breaths. Then turn slowly, using the same movement pattern and matching each movement with an inhalation or exhalation. Pause again, facing the path you just walked. End by retracing your steps back to where you started.
August 20, 2012
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