How Movement Classes Reduce Pain

Pain conditions change the body, creating deep muscle tension, restricting the breath, and raising levels of stress hormones. Therapeutic movement classes can shift these biological responses to pain, reducing suffering and helping to create health.

Gentle, mindful movements improve balance, coordination, flexibility, strength, and stamina. This helps to release the deep muscle tension that comes from chronic pain, and increases blood and lymph flow through the body, carrying nourishment to stressed tissues.

As tension releases, it becomes easier to breathe. While in pain, the breath becomes shallow and tight as the body stays prepared to protect itself. As the diaphragm and core release excess tension, the breath is able to deepen, which in turn signals the endocrine system that the threat has passed and it is safe to relax. The relaxation response then lowers the levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, allowing the body to switch into nurture and restore mode, where it can focus on healing damage instead of protecting against it.

At Ha.Lé, all of our classes are designed for students at all levels, with a wide variety of health concerns. We see firsthand the benefits of regular practice for increasing range of motion, reducing pain, and lowering stress levels, and the sometimes profound improvements in health that can bring.

Mind Body Therapy

Restorative practices are key to maintaining and creating health. Our bodies are designed to regularly have deep rest in order to reset the nervous system, flush the effects of stress, and rebalance internal processes, which all supports health and healing on a deep, fundamental level. Without enough restoration, our bodies become locked into chronic stress patterns that create dysfunction in our physical, mental, and emotional lives.

Mindfulness principles support restorative practices, which in turn creates a cascade of health benefits in the body. As the body moves into rest and restore mode, the heart rate will slow, the breath will deepen, and blood pressure will decrease. Common areas of muscular tension like the diaphragm, pelvis, and neck and shoulders, will begin to relax and release. As the musculoskeletal tension along the spine releases, the vertebrae will be able to make subtle adjustments toward alignment. The nervous system will also re-regulate itself, which helps to turn down the volume of pain signals, and other systems of the body like digestion, circulation, and circadian rhythms, will also reset and rebalance.

Mind Body Therapy uses this effectiveness of mindfulness and restoration to address specific health conditions.  At Ha.Lé, we always begin with a conversation, and the initial conversation for Mind Body Therapy will assess your health condition and personal goals. We will also seek to understand your current physical, mental, and spiritual capacity. This allows us to create a personalized mind body practice for you that applies mindfulness principles to optimize your health.

Your personalized mind body therapy practice can provide specialized techniques for a variety of specific health conditions. It can help with chronic pain from musculoskeletal conditions, and cardiovascular disease including heart failure and coronary heart disease. Mind Body Therapy can also address conditions like diabetes mellitus, obesity, anxiety, depression, post traumatic disorder, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia.

Mind Body Therapy is the application of principles of mindfulness for wellness and specific health conditions. Mindfulness techniques are able to turn the complex systems of the body toward restorative states, which creates space for deep healing and rebalancing.

Dr. Gurjeet Birdee is a researcher, scientist, physician, and mind body therapist. He is now available for Mind Body Therapy sessions at Ha.Lé.

Triphala for Digestive Health

Triphala is an Ayurvedic blend that is used to support digestive health and overall vitality. It is tridoshic, which means that it works for most people regardless of their constitution. Literally meaning “three fruits,” Triphala uses the fruits from three Indian medicinal plants to support internal cleansing, regulate digestion, and improve the absorption of of nutrients:

Amalaki is also known as Indian gooseberry and helps lower cholesterol. It supports the liver and immune system, and is a high source of vitamin C,

Haritaki is the Tibetan “king of medicine,” supporting the brain and the heart. It help clear toxins from the body.

Bibhitaki is a fruit that supports the respiratory system and promotes good bone production. It is a powerful ancient rejuvenator.

Triphala consists of five different tastes: sour, bitter, pungent, astringent, and sweet. Ideally it should be taken in a form where you can taste it, either as a tea or tablet, and not in a gelatin capsule. The act of tasting primes your body to digest and assimilate the blend more effectively. The taste will probably change each time you take it, because Triphala supplies the taste that your body needs. Over time, it can begin to taste sweet, but you may find it astringent or bitter for a while at the beginning.

Triphala nourishes and rejuvenates the digestive system, which is key to supporting health. It gently cleanses and detoxifies the system, while kindling the digestive fire and supporting the body’s absorption of more nutrients. It is a natural antioxidant, and is said to support graceful aging and overall well being.

From Self-Criticism to Self-Compassion

Self-Criticism refers to the voice inside our head that criticizes our thoughts, actions, and/or appearance. We use self-criticism as a way to motivate ourselves to drive forward, do the right thing, or stay safe. However, it turns out this is not an effective way to change our own behavior, and we often use this voice to say mean things to ourselves that we would not be comfortable saying to others.

Research conducted at Stanford University shows that self-criticism is more destructive than helpful. The more people criticize themselves, the slower their progress toward a goal, and the less likely they are to ever achieve it. Looking at the neuroscience of self-criticism, it actually shifts our brain into a state of self-inhibition and self-punishment. This causes us to disengage from our goals because we feel threatened and demoralized.

In the end, self-criticism makes us more likely to end up stuck in a cycle of procrastination and self-loathing. Even when we are able to push through this, it still saps emotional energy that could be used more productively.

Self-compassion is the alternative to self-criticism. It improves overall mental health, making you more likely to be happy, resilient, and optimistic about the future. It is a way for our inner voice to become more of a supportive friend, helping us feel safe and accepted enough to see ourselves clearly and make the changes we need to make to become healthier and happier.

There are 3 main components to self-compassion. Self-Kindness refers to the tendency to be caring and understanding, and to offer yourself soothing and comfort in the face of suffering. A sense of Common Humanity means recognizing that all humans are imperfect, and we all make mistakes, which helps put things in perspective. And finally, Mindfulness is a form of self-awareness that sees painful feelings in a clear and balanced manner, neither ignoring nor obsessing about what you don’t like about yourself.

Combining these three things creates self-compassion. This allows you to be easier on yourself when your suffering occurs through no fault of your own. It also helps you support yourself when the external circumstances of life are simply too painful or difficult to bear, and eases the suffering that you cause for yourself.

Moving out of self-criticism to a place of self-compassion is a gentler and more effective way to reach your goals and become the person you would like to be. It creates the feeling of internal safety that allows us each to blossom and thrive, growing in the direction we choose for ourselves.

Acupuncture for Fertility

Acupuncture is an effective treatment for regulating the reproductive system and addressing imbalances that can impact fertility. It is considered very safe and can be used either as a primary course of treatment or along with western medical treatments and medications. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the goal is not just to get pregnant, but to stay pregnant and have a healthy baby as well.

Stress: Stress is a key factor in the fertility of both women and men. It causes the brain to release cortisol, which disrupts its neurochemical balance. There is a delicate interplay between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and reproductive glands that regulate fertility, and stress can directly upset these relationships. Acupuncture is especially helpful in reducing stress and rebalancing its effects on the body in order to support fertility and overall health.

Hormones: Non-stress related hormone imbalances can also affect fertility. For example, not enough progesterone will prevent implantation, and too much prolactin will prevent ovulation. Acupuncture helps to regulate these hormone levels. It can also help correct thyroid imbalances, which can also affect the reproductive system.

Women: Acupuncture helps provide better blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, which increases the chance of an egg being nourished and carried to term. It can help with spasmed tubes, helping them to release and return to full function. Trying to conceive can also take an emotional toll, and acupuncture helps reduce anxiety and regulate mood.

Men: Acupuncture can rebalance male fertility issues like low sperm count, low motility, and impotence. Many of the western fertility medications that adjust hormone levels are much less effective for men than for women; acupuncture can serve as an alternative route without the side-effects of the medications. There are also Chinese herbs that are especially indicated for male fertility.

Acupuncture helps regulate the complex systems of fertility, rebalance delicate hormone levels, and reduce the effects of stress and anxiety. Fertility issues are spread equally among men and women, and some issues are from unknown factors entirely. Bringing balance and harmony to the biological and emotional systems involved can restore the body’s ability to self-regulate, improving fertility and your overall sense of wellbeing.

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